Lamingtons coated in fish scales are on the MasterChef dessert menu this Sunday night as seafood guru Josh Niland shows contestants how to make the most out of one fish.
The St Peter and Fish Butchery co-owner and world renowned chef will skilfully carve his way through a 4kg Murray cod to create three courses: an entree, main and dessert.
Niland’s sustainable approach and dry-ageing technique have been labelled game-changers for the industry and his The Whole Fish Cookbook took out two awards in the most prestigious food publishing awards for the industry last year – the James Beard Foundation Media Awards.
After appearing on MasterChef Back to Win last year, Niland’s episode received more than 90 million views online.
“To go on the show and actually speak to the work that we do at both St Peter and Fish Butchery, and some of the work that I put forward in The Whole Fish Cookbook, it was a way of showing fish in a different light to a lot of people,” he said.
“And it was just by breaking down a fish in a very different way, it was more indicative of how you break down an animal.
“I feel the biggest thing to come away from this Sunday’s episode is that not only can you derive three courses from a single fish but the fact that you can make a lamington, with no coconut, using fish.
“The dessert will be a real eye opener for a lot of people.”
For too long fish has been viewed in one way, according to Niland, and it is his mission to change this and hopes one day every part of the fish will be available in a supermarket setting, not just the fillet.
“Right now, we’re at the very beginning of this conversation from getting everybody to stop feeling that icky, slimy, bony, smelly feeling that they carry around fish and getting them really celebrating what is really a very unique protein,” he said.
“How is it that in Japan you can celebrate the texture of an eyeball or of other soft organs coming from a fish yet come to Australia and everybody couldn’t think of anything worse? I couldn’t think of eating a fish’s eyeball but if I can package it to appear to be far more delicious, far more removed from that slimy eye, then that’s a wonderful thing.
“The legacy that I hope to have within the industry is that people see fish now as a hugely opportunistic product that should be shown reverence and attention the way meat is seen.
“If a pig came into a butchery and you would only then cut the loins off the back of the pig and then throw the rest of the pig into the bin, that’s just something you would never see and yet that’s what we’re talking about here with fish.”
This encouragement of viewing fish the same way we view meat is a theme in Niland’s next book, Take One Fish, to be out in August.
“Part of what I try and project domestically speaking is to treat fish as though it was your chicken,” Niland said.
“If you go to the shop and buy a chicken breast or thigh ready to go, it’s the same as just buying a fillet. So you’re removed then from the waste that was created by singularly cutting out that part for market.
“I’m not going to be a martyr in that you shouldn’t buy a chicken breast but if you can see the potential in buying a whole fish over buying a fish fillet so that you can realise three meals rather than one single meal, then that’s a great thing.”
MasterChef airs Sunday to Thursday, 7.30pm on Ten.