Spring 2015

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How Tassie finally spawned the salmon industry

Hello folks

Chris with a plate of salmonDid you know Tassie’s love affair with salmon began 150 years ago? That was when the first live salmon and salmon eggs arrived by sailing ship from Britain, comforted by large blocks of ice as they crossed the Equator.

Anticipating their arrival a fish hatchery was constructed upstream from New Norfolk – and optimistically it was named Salmon Ponds.

The migrant salmon were given a very nice home indeed – deep ponds filled with sparkling fresh water from the Plenty River and the ponds were surrounded by young deciduous trees. Our
forebears wanted these salmon to think they were back home in the northern hemisphere.

They reckoned the salmon, once released, would swim down the Derwent, have a good time in the sea and return to their new home to breed – and so would begin a seafood business in the colony. But the ungrateful salmon had another idea – once safely out to sea they decided not to return to Salmon Ponds. They were never seen again.

So Tassie’s salmon love affair way back in the 1860s was, as they say in the romance paperbacks, unrequited love.

The good news for the colonialists, however, was that a small number of trout eggs that arrived in Tasmania, along with the ungrateful salmon, decided to hatch at Salmon Ponds. They thrived and so began Tasmania’s now world-famous recreational industry – trout fishing in the highland lakes and rivers.

The famous fish hatchery still carries the name Salmon Ponds, but it’s stocked primarily by trout – brown, rainbow, brook and tiger trout (a cross between brown and brook).

One of the six ponds does house some salmon – they are there exclusively for the tourists.

It’s worth visiting the hatchery to see them – and the various trout species – glide through the dark waters under the overhanging deciduous trees. I digress ...

Around 30 years ago, Atlantic salmon from Nova Scotia in eastern Canada were sent to the Snowy Mountains in NSW. They thrived and some eggs were sent to Tasmania.

And so, finally, was spawned the salmon industry in Tassie. Now in the coastal waters of southern Tasmania are growing some of the finest salmon ever harvested in the world.

While we produce just 2% of the world’s commercial catch, salmon reared here are sought after, not just across Australia but also in Asia, especially in Japan. Those Japanese are fine judges of culinary maritime delights (whales excepted).

We’re so lucky to have a plentiful supply of salmon, both fresh and smoked, or even prepared gravlax style (which you can do yourself as I’ll show you inside).

Not only does salmon taste good – and I’ll show you some of the exciting ways to prepare a meal – it’s great for your health.

Every salmon, being an oily fish, is packed with Omega 3, which is essential for your good health. It helps lower cholesterol and stimulates the brain (and I could do with some of that!)

Now the salmon industry has some powerful stats to back that healthy eating claim. It says to achieve your recommended weekly level of Omega 3 you must eat just over 200g of salmon – or more than 14 kilos of lean beef! Yes, folks, that works at around 60 large steaks a week. Well, that’s what our salmon industry says, so who am I to question their stats.

Another solution for a healthy outcome, of course, is to swallow copious amounts of fish oil tablets – but to me Tassie salmon is much more palatable!

Despite the drug cheats and the bad behaviour ... THRIVE on the challenges

 

Tristan at the start line with  a dope cheatSport, my old friend, is a form of competitive exercise that’s been around since the dinosaurs. I obviously love it but I do sometimes wonder where it fits into today’s world.

I’m one of the first generation of video games kids, but in my time growing up they were only just finding their feet. Sure we would sometimes play a soccer game on the classic Sega Mega Drive, but most of the time we would prefer to be out the back using our imaginations to emulate our heroes.

Things are very different today, but for me at least sport will always be special. But this is something I have to remind myself lately because of some negative moments in the sporting timeline taking place.

Recently we have seen everything – from the booing of Adam Goodes, to the bad behaviour of some Aussie tennis players, to the news in my sport that one-third of medallists from 2001 to 2012 could have been on drugs. These stories are a stain on sport’s reputation. But in my opinion they are all examples of actions that make sport invaluable ... but just taken too far.

Perhaps Goodes shouldn’t have pretended to throw a spear at opposition fans and those fans definitely should not be booing or using racist remarks. But these actions aside, I see what has gone on as positive displays of emotion, excitement and passion. Sport is the perfect way to experience and express emotion and it is certainly a much better method of letting off steam then having a fight at a local pub.

This passion is life and when harnessed in the correct spirit there is nothing else like it.

As a dismayed supporter of the shocking Brisbane Lions AFL team, I have instead turned my attention to Rugby League and last year watched the South Sydney Rabbitohs win the Grand Final. That night was one of the best of my life and my adrenaline flows just reminiscing about it.

 

‘To think some opponents who ran fast enough to deny me the chance to run in an Olympic final could have been cheating is a depressing realisation’

 

Everyone in the stadium would boo when an opposition player made a dangerous tackle, but the bottom line is they loved seeing the challenge unfolding and respected all the men out on the field. I’m not saying people should turn booing into bullying though and it all comes back to respect.

This is why I’m on the fence when it comes to our tennis players. I do cringe when I hear Nick Kyrgios disrespecting match officials as things go wrong, and Bernard Tomic’s arrest for a late night party goes against everything I believe in.

But as a sports person I love their passion and think this is something society needs to keep as we become more and more driven by computers. Again it is all about maintaining a balance and despite emotion wrongly thrown at referees, I try not to judge people on the way they express themselves on the field.

One must remain respectful of others but I’d far prefer to see a kid over-celebrate after a goal than walking back robotically without emotion. Life has to be fun and sport is a domain where people should be able to let their hair down a bit.

The last example I raised is not an issue of passion. Discovering that people have taken performance enhancing drugs is one of the most frustrating things an athlete can hear. To think some opponents who ran fast enough to deny me the chance to run in an Olympic final could have been cheating is a depressing realisation.

While cheating is obviously a low blow to any legit competitor, and I wouldn’t do it myself, I still believe it stems from something good, just taken over the edge.

Athletics in particular is all about pushing yourself to reach your maximum potential and our limitations can sometimes be
an annoying thing to accept. Sadly that’s life though and as one learns through

the journey there are three ways to deal with it.

Cheating is one way, but in my mind this is similar to conceding defeat. It says, ‘I’m not good enough to achieve my goals and I’d rather take shortcuts and travel the easy road’. It is one thing when people are cheating themselves but it is another when other people are disadvantaged by this selfish approach.

The second option, which for me is the least desirable, is to simply not try and quit. Life throws us many challenges and there are moments when good objectives seem hard to reach, but it does make me sad to see people give up on dreams through lack of faith.

The option that is clearly the most beneficial is to accept that the challenges will be hard, but work your backside off to give it a go anyway. Every great achievement, whether it be in sport or Einstein’s discoveries, at one point seemed impossible. But in the end people’s success is a result of pushing themselves hard enough to make what seemed impossible, do-able and then done.

This is one of the great lessons learned through sport and I love that idea of fighting to become as good as you can be to get the challenges done. This applies for fitness too and these are lessons that are valuable through anything life throws at you along the way.

Objectives that are hard to attain is a great thing, so keep biting off more than you can chew. Combine this with the sense of passion and I truly believe you can achieve anything.

On that note my girlfriend’s plans to join a fun run are going well and, where a few weeks ago she could only do half a lap of a course, now she can do two.

Go get ’em Brighton! Tristan

 

Getting HOOKED on salmon

Salmon is not an inexpensive protein. If you’re planning to buy salmon fillets or steaks, they’re lying alongside some very tasty fish that are cheaper. Other varieties, of course, are more expensive – especially boned and skinless flathead! Salmon is a rich-tasting oily fish, and therefore a small portion – around 150 g or even a bit less – can form the basis of a satisfying meal. And of course fresh salmon portions are much more economical than prepacked smoked salmon.

I reckon some of my favourite salmon recipes will get you hooked!

HOW TO MAKE A BASIC FISH STOCK

Ironically while some of my salmon dishes need a fish stock, for a basic stock it’s best not to use salmon bits. The remnants of white fish are best.

A good fish stock depends on fresh frames and heads. When using fish heads, remove the eyes and gills, split the head in half and wash thoroughly to get rid of all traces of blood.

Don’t cook the stock for too long. If you do it produces an unpleasant ammonia pong!

 

To make 1.5 litres of fish stock you need:
1.5 kilos fish frames and heads cleaned and roughly chopped
1 medium leek chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1 stick of celery chopped
1⁄2 bulb of fennel chopped
2 cloves of unpeeled garlic
100 ml olive oil
300 ml dry white wine
2 sprigs each of thyme and parsley 1⁄2 lemon sliced
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper

 

Do not salt the stock.

 

Put the leek, onion, celery, fennel and garlic in a large saucepan or stock pot.

 

Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to sizzle. Gently sweat the vegetables on a low heat for about 15 minutes until softened.

 

Stir in the fish bones and head and the wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

 

Pour in 2 litres of cold water and add the herbs, lemon and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, skimming the scum off the surface with a wide spoon.

 

Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the stock settle for about 10 minutes.

Line a large sieve or colander with a wet muslin cloth and strain the liquid into a container. Let cool and use within three days. Or freeze in smaller useable quantities and use within one month.

You can also BBQ or pan-fry thick fillets of salmon, skin side down until about 5mm of the fish just above the skin is cooked, leaving the rest still raw. Slide the skin off and serve the fish on a bed of mescaline. Dribble some sauce from the reduced stock over it and place the crispy skin on top.

 

SALMON ORANGE STOCK

Fresh orange juice adds acidity to the oily salmon.

Follow the recipe for the fish stock but use salmon bones including the cleaned head and substitute freshly squeezed orange juice for the wine.

Before making the stock roast the salmon bones in a 200C preheated oven for 20 minutes. This improves the flavour and stops scum forming during cooking.

 

PAN ROASTED salmon on creamy cabbage

4 x 200 g skinless salmon fillets
1⁄2 large pale green cabbage finely shredded
40 g butter
60 ml olive oil
1 shallot chopped
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
75 ml dry white wine
90 ml double cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil and sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Remove pin bones in the fillets and trim. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the cabbage. Drain well and refresh in cold water. Drain again.

 

Heat the butter in a pan and gently sauté the chopped shallot. Add the cabbage and cook for 3 minutes. Add sherry vinegar and cook, stirring until liquid has evaporated, then pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the cream and bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and keep warm while cooking the salmon fillets.

 

Heat a large pan and swirl the oil in it, reduce heat and add the salmon fillets and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Stir the herbs into the creamed cabbage, divide amongst four plates and sit the salmon fillets on top of the cabbage. Garnish with sprigs of chervil and serve.

GRAVLAX with a sweet mustard sauce

(this dish takes six days to prepare – but it’s worth the effort!)

Whole salmon filleted into two sides with the skin on. Remove the pin bones.

 

150 g sea salt or rock salt
100 g sugar
2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper
75 g fresh dill chopped
pernod, gin or whisky

 

Lay one fillet skin down in a rimmed plastic tray. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, then sprinkle evenly on the fillet and put the other fillet on top. Pour a generous amount of alcohol of your choice over the fish.

 

Cover with plastic wrap and place an oval plate on top of the salmon and weigh it down (with a brick or whatever is handy).

 

Refrigerate for about five days, turning the fillets over each day.

 

When the salmon is infused with the mixture, drain off the liquid and rinse the seasoning off the fillets with cold water. Pat dry with paper towelling. Sprinkle with some more chopped fresh dill and wrap tightly in plastic wrap again and put in the fridge for another day.

 

The vinaigrette

50 ml sherry vinegar
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
50 ml peanut oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Whisk all the ingredients until you have a light emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Store vinaigrette in a screw-top jar for future use. Shake well before use.

 

The sweet mustard sauce

1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon clear honey
3 tablespoons of vinaigrette

 

Whisk the ingredients into a creamy sauce and serve with your finely sliced gravlax. The fillets can be sliced a bit thicker than smoked salmon.The skin, with its sugar and salt content, makes it go very crispy and delicious when grilled on a barbecue.

 

PASTA with smoked salmon sauce vierge

250-300 g pappardelle or fettuccine
15 g butter
200 g sliced smoked salmon

 

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain and toss with a little butter. Fold the salmon strips into the pasta. Serve on warm plates and spoon the sauce vierge over it.

 

Sauce vierge

50 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 coriander seeds
1 ripe tomato skinned, deseeded and finely diced
6 large fresh basil leaves shredded
1⁄2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

In a small saucepan heat 2 teaspoons of the oil and gently fry the chopped shallots until softened. Add the remaining oil and lemon juice and gently reheat. Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan with the tomato, shredded basil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and stir well. Let the sauce infuse for about 5 minutes with the heat turned off.

 

HOT SALMON mousse(six serves)

250 g skinned fresh salmon fillets, pin bones removed, then cut into chunks.
1 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
500-750 ml fresh cream
300 g fresh whole spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
50 g salmon eggs (lump fish eggs are a suitable cheaper alternative)
500 ml fish veloute (see below)

 

Blend the salmon in a food processor until smooth. Scrape the sides of the processor and be prepared to blend for quite some time. Season with the salt and white pepper and mix in the lemon juice.

 

For ultimate lightness, pass the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing it through with a plastic scraper.

 

In a large bowl put some crushed ice and cold water. Put the mixture in another bowl and stand it in the ice water to keep cold.

 

Lightly whip the cream until it just starts to thicken. Using a large spoon, gradually fold the cream into the fish, making sure it is folded through before adding the next portion of cream. Continue the process until you have a soft mousse that holds its shape if piped. You may not need to use all the cream. Chill the mixture.

 

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again.

 

Pick out only the whole leaves and put them on a kitchen towel to dry.

 

Preheat the oven to 190C.

 

Lightly grease six ramekin dishes and line the bottom and sides with the spinach, leaving some overhang all around. Spoon the mousse into a piping bag and pipe into the centre of each ramekin, making sure the bottom is covered. Tap the ramekin on a bench-top until the mixture is level. Make a small hollow in the middle and fill with the fish eggs. Smooth the top with some more mousse, then fold over the overhanging spinach leaves. Cover with a round, oiled disk of aluminium foil.

 

Stand the ramekins in a roasting dish, pour hot water around them, half-way up the sides.

 

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the mousse feels just firm when lightly pressed.

 

Allow to stand for 5 minutes before turning out on to warm plates and serve with a creamy veloute sauce.

 

The veloute

500 ml fish stock
250 ml milk
50 g butter
2 level tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cream
salt and pepper to taste

 

Pour the stock and milk into a saucepan.

 

Bring to the boil, remove from heat while you make a roux. In another saucepan melt the butter, stir in the flour and on a gentle heat stir until it becomes a golden colour. Pour in the milky stock a little at a time and stir with a wooden spoon, mixing it to a paste. Take care to blend each amount until smooth and creamy before adding the next lot. When all the liquid is used, simmer for a few minutes, stir in the cream and season to taste.

 

Put the veloute on warmed plates, then carefully turn out your individual mousses in the centre and garnish with a few more fish eggs or caviar.

 

Now invite me for dinner!

 

SALMON CAKES with sorrel sauce

400 g floury potatoes peeled and diced
15 g butter
1 teaspoon fresh chervil chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chives chopped
500 g salmon fillets skin off
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
100 g dried fine breadcrumbs
75 g ghee or clarified butter
150 ml sunflower oil for frying
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and just cover with salted water. Boil for 12-15 minutes until tender. Drain, return to pan and dry over a gentle heat for a minute or so. Mash the flesh until smooth. Beat in the butter, chervil, chives and seasoning. Set aside to cool.

 

Blend a quarter of the salmon in a food processer and puree until very fine. Finely dice the remaining salmon. Mix the puree into the cooled mash, then add the egg yolk and the diced fish. Mix well.

 

Dust your hands with flour and shape mixture into six round cakes.

 

Whisk the whole egg in a shallow dish. In another dish put the breadcrumbs.

 

Dip the fish cakes in the egg wash and cover well with the breadcrumbs. Put them in one layer on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Now prepare the sorrel sauce.

 

Sorrel sauce

 

This is the same as the previously described veloute, 250 ml of cream with 40g of shredded sorrel leaves and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

 

Heat the clarified butter or sunflower oil in a shallow pan until hot, but not burning. Slide in the fish cakes one at the time and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

 

Carefully turn over and cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

 

Drain on kitchen paper towels but do not cover or the fish cakes will get soggy.

 

Reheat the sauce and serve with the fish cakes.

Uncle-chris-960Okay folks, at first glance you’ll think our cartoonist George Haddon has gone too far.

Now we all know salmonella is a nasty bacteria that can make you seriously sick.

But did you know that salmonella has absolutely nothing to do with eating salmon. Trust your Uncle Chris!

The bacteria was discovered back in the late 1880s in the United States and it was named after the pathologist who led the discovery. His name: DANIEL SALMON.

So George’s cartoon is not in questionable taste (heh heh) after all. Is it Ella?

Now I should have told you something about George when he first started drawing unflattering cartoons of me.

Back in 2004 he was voted Australia’s cartoonist of the year by his peers around the country. So we’re very lucky to have George creating his cartoons exclusively for the residents of Brighton municipality.

I just wish he would be a bit kinder to me.

How to get your TOMATOES growing

a hand full of tomatoesTemptation can be a terrible cross to bear.

I know because I’m afflicted by it this time every year without fail.

The merest hint of warmer spring weather and this old fool rushes off to the nearest nursery to buy a few tomato plants.

Shame on the nurseries. They’re preying on pathetic temptation-riddled creatures like me who lust for the taste and aroma of fresh-picked home tomatoes.

They well know soils are still far too frigid to grow tomatoes. Yet still they tempt.

You see, if you plonk these lush, hothouse-coddled seedlings in icy dirt now, they’ll hang their heads in misery and succumb to a myriad of ailments.

I know, because that’s what my too-early tommies do year after year.

The cruel reality is that daytime ground temperatures need to be 20C or more to support tomato plants – and at the moment they’re about as warm as a mother-in-law’s kiss.

Things really won’t be warm enough until the first Tuesday in November and that race that stops a nation. It’s been that way for yonks and, global warming permitting, will continue to be so.

Yet there are devious ways to sate a little temptation on the side, to get the tomato-growing bug out of the system.

I’m doing it now. Tempted to join me?

All it takes is the purchase of two or three of those seductive little tomato seedlings to be grown in the warmth indoors.

The trick is to find a cosy spot near a window that gets maximum daytime sun.

Plant them in small pots on saucers. The smaller the pots the better, because for some perverse reason young tomato plants perform better when subjected to seemingly torturous over-crowding.

‘Never plant where tomatoes have been grown in the previous few years’

And hold back the fertiliser, except for a pinch of sulphate of potash (you can buy it at the nursery when you get your seedlings) around the pot.

Yes, it seems super cruel but it’s all got to do with the tomato plants’ fight to survive, to preserve the species.

When the going gets tough a plant, in its desperate attempt to flower and thus preserve the species, will try that little bit harder.

The sulphate of potash encourages this flowering and, as a follow-up, improves the taste of the fruit.

Just to tighten the screws in the torture department, only give the plants enough water to survive. That really riles them into action.

If you can get tomato plants bearing flowers indoors, then once they’re planted into warmer soils outdoors in late October or early November they will streak away.

That means earlier tomatoes, maybe even before Christmas.

Yet there are provisos. For starters, your window pot plantings need to be in a warm yet not overly dry room. And because the plants will be drawn toward

the sunlight, you will need to regularly turn the pots to keep plants vertical.

Once plants are outside in warm soils, they can be properly fertilised.

Then the normal tomato-growing principles apply.

Plant them into good-draining soil containing plenty of organic matter.

If your soil is poor, dig it up well beforehand and mix in compost.

Frugal gardeners make their own compost from autumn leaves, kitchen scraps and the like, or you can cheat and buy a bag of compost.

If drainage is poor and water hangs about, build up the bed by 10-15cm above the nearby ground.

Again, those tomatoes will need plenty of sun.

Never plant where tomatoes have been grown in the previous few years.

Oh, and when you are first buying those plants for indoor growing, seek early- fruiting varieties.

I often grow a French one called Rouge de Marmande, and other early ones worth seeking out are Apollo Improved and Stupice.

And don’t ignore the cherry tomatoes. For a couple of years I have been growing a beauty called Tomatoberry that’s producing right up to the end of autumn. And there’s a good one called Cherry Fountain.

But much of the fun is in experimenting with several varieties and discovering the ones that ring your bells.

Got to finish up now. Temptation’s got me again.

Am off to get a couple of plants for the windowsill.

Tomato tips

  • Stake tall-growing varieties when planting out to avoid excessive root damage. Most plants will require at least two stakes.
  • You don’t need to, but pinching out the laterals (new growths that form between the joint of two stems) prevents over-crowding and makes maintenance easier.
  • Water around the plants, not on the plants.
  • Once plants are growing well, cut off any low leaves near the ground that look to be ailing. This is where fungal disease is often introduced, caused by water droplets bouncing up off the ground and on to the foliage.