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MasterChef Australia

Weds - Fri at 7.30pm TVNZ 1

Ep 62: Crispy-scaled snapper

Crispy-scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling, ink sauce

Crispy-scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling, ink sauce

Serves: 6

Calamari crackling
Vegetable oil, for frying
1.6L water
500g tapioca
Small handful bonito flakes
15ml fish sauce
1 tablespoon squid ink
Salt flakes
Dehydrated smoked calamari

Seared and confit calamari
1 large, thick calamari, skin peeled, inside cleaned
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes
Lemon juice

Ink sauce
60ml olive oil
3 eschalots, peeled and sliced
½ bulb garlic
4 fennel stalks, roughly chopped
1 strip lemon rind
3 basil stalks
6 coriander seeds
100g Serrano ham, diced
3 over ripe tomatoes, deseeded
1 tablespoon squid ink
100ml white balsamic vinegar
700ml vegetable stock
1/3 teaspoon xanthum gum

Crispy-scaled snapper
1 whole snapper 3-3.5kg, scales on
200ml grape seed oil

Ink potatoes
1 desiree potato, peeled and cut into tubes with an apple corer
50ml olive oil
1 small stick rosemary
1 clove bashed garlic
1 teaspoon squid ink
70ml vegetable stock

Smoked potato puree
500g desiree potatoes, peeled and chopped
175g smoked butter, softened
110g smoked crème fraiche
Salt flakes
Milk, optional

To assemble

Radish, finely sliced on mandolin
Lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Baby spinach leaves
Black garlic powder

1 For the calamari crackling; Preheat oven to 85°C. Fill a deep fryer with oil and heat to 180°C.

2 Place water, tapioca, bonito flakes, fish sauce and squid ink in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes or until tapioca is tender.

3 Place all of mixture in a thermomix and blend until ¾ of the beads have been blended.

4 Smear a very thin layer of mixture onto a baking paper-lined tray and bake for one hour 20 minutes until dry enough to peel from the baking sheet. Cut into large uneven shapes roughly 15cm long and 3cm wide. Keep in a dry place until ready to fry.

5 Fry in a deep fryer for 1 minute or until popped. Drain on paper towel, sprinkle with salt flakes and finely grate some smoked calamari over the top.

6 For the seared calamari; Clean calamari and scrub gently to remove second skin. Trim and cut in half.

7 Place half in freezer to be later sliced on meat slicer. Score the other half, slice on an angle to about half the depth and criss cross. Portion into small pieces about 2cmx6cm.

8 For confit calamari, thinly slice frozen calamari on a meat slicer and poach in oil in a small saucepan at 62°C for 8 minutes. Drain and season with salt and lemon juice.

9 For seared calamari, oil the scored side of the calamari and place scored side down in a very hot dry pan. Season with salt and serve.

10 For the ink sauce; Heat oil in a large saucepan, add eschalots, garlic, fennel, lemon, basil, coriander and ham and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft but with little colour.

11 Add tomato, increase heat and keep stirring until moisture has evaporated. Add squid ink and cook on high heat for 5 minutes then add vinegar and reduce by 1/3. Add stock and cook for 20 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then pass through muslin.

12 Pour into a clean pan, reduce by half, add to thermomix with xanthum gum and blend for 1 minute on medium. Pass through a fine chinoise.

13 For crispy-scaled snapper; Preheat oven to 180°C. Dry snapper, remove both fillets, taking extreme care.

14 Once filleted, place a fillet on a clean chopping board and cut down fillet along the bones right down the length of the fish, then fan the blade under the belly bones to remove them. Repeat with other fillet. Portion and trim each side into 3 portions leaving 6 altogether. Place in fridge on a tray until required.

15 Carefully pull back the scales keeping them intact with the scales sticking up. It doesn’t matter if you lose a few, it’s important not to have areas too dense. The temperature control of the pan is very important, moderate heat to start, being very gentle so you do not crush the scales with the weight of the fish as it hits the pan.

16 About 1-2 minutes rendering on stove top then about 1-2 minutes in the oven, still on the scales, take out of oven, tip out the fat, kiss the flesh on the pan and serve, remember to keep the fish slightly under as it will continue cooking on the plate.

17 For the ink potatoes; Preheat oven to 180°C.

18 Cut potato tubes into 3 different lengths. Heat oil until fairly hot in a small saucepan and add potatoes, rosemary and garlic and shake around in the hot oil for a couple of minutes.

19 Add ink and shake vigorously keeping a high heat in the pan, deglaze with half the stock, cover with a lid, place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove pan, shake to dislodge potatoes, add remaining stock, place back in oven and cook until black and liquid has evaporated, season.

20 For smoked potato puree; Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook until soft, drain well, place back in pan and allow steam to evaporate for a few minutes. Pass through a fine drum sieve. Fold in smoked butter and crème fraiche and salt. Add milk to thin if desired.

21 To assemble, dress radish in lemon juice and a little olive oil. Dress spinach leaves in a little olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

22 Smear some smoked potato puree and ink sauce on the plate, place snapper on puree and add confit and seared calamari, ink potatoes, radish, leaves and crackling.