Fish ham, eye chips, smoked spleen, glazed throat… shall I proceed? How about swordfish bacon, milt mortadella, a sardine-caramel sauce on your custard tart or cod-fat ice cream?
All of those are concepts from the Australian chef Josh Niland, whose scale-to-tail or fin-to-gill strategy to fish goes far past sucking the goodness from bones.
Sydney restaurant proprietor Niland burst on to British horizons in late 2019, publishing his first cookbook, The Whole Fish, to worldwide acclaim. The 32-year-old received prestigious trade accolades and reward from Jamie to Nigella and each different chef value their saltwater.
However he additionally developed a picture because the unapproachable clinician, dissecting his specimens in black rubber gloves in heavily-stylised pictures with extra in widespread with a forensics lab than a kitchen.
He included recipes in The Complete Fish solely as “a gesture of the formality of writing a cookbook”, he says, acknowledging that this made for a “actually intense” learn.
It feels like he’s kicked again a bit throughout lockdown and rediscovered the connections between wonderful and informal eating and residential cooking. His new ebook, Take One Fish, asks us to waste much less and experiment extra to get twice the everyday yield out of a single fish. If we used 90 per cent of every fish as an alternative of simply the fillets most of us go for, we may go away half of them within the ocean, he says.
He describes Take One Fish as a “joyful, tangible providing”. The recipes should not for inexperienced cooks, however they’re actually extra accessible. “I by no means thought I might have written a cookbook with a lasagne in it,” he admits.
“There are crispy bits and burnt bits and me consuming the meals to indicate I’m human, not simply this man posing together with his arms crossed.”
A decade in the past, Niland and his spouse, Julie, did a four-month stint 0 identified in hospitality as a stage – within the take a look at kitchen at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, Maidenhead. Each had been supplied jobs however turned them down.
“We needed to make infants in Sydney,” Niland says, chatting with i from his house earlier than heading to his kitchen, although within the midst of a strict Sydney lockdown they’re making ready at-home meals solely.
As we speak he has three kids, two eating places, a retail area and the books to his title, with Julie as chief government of the lot. It’s spectacular.
“I preserve a reasonably tight listing of issues I wish to obtain in my life and I make certain I obtain them,” he says, with neither modesty nor the swagger baked into so many cooks.
What fires his ambition? His expertise of affected by most cancers as a baby has performed its half. Niland was identified with a Wilms’ tumour (a sort of kidney most cancers) aged eight and several other years of chemotherapy adopted.
“My mum was cooking my lunch most days. I favored the gesture of a meal cooked by someone else, and the power of a meal to make me really feel actually good. I fixated on the concept of being a chef and have been cooking for 17 or 18 years.”
You’ll often discover him in his fine-dining restaurant Saint Peter or Fish Butchery, a fishmonger by another title, which shows produce in glass cupboards as in the event that they had been Cartier watches.
Many individuals stated it was a “silly title for a fish store” Niland tells me, however inside the trade he was met with a “actual sense of inspiration”. Why? As a result of he needs us to deal with fish like meat, ageing it and curing it and utilizing each edible morsel, within the method of the nose-to-tail strategy to consuming animals pioneered within the UK by Fergus Henderson of St John, in Smithfields, London.
In fact, neither Henderson nor Niland invented consuming offal and pores and skin; they’re reintroducing these concepts to largely Western audiences. Dry-ageing strategies, already broadly utilized in components of Asia, have gotten extra widespread within the UK. There’s five-day-aged turbot at Ikoyi in London (“If it isn’t the most effective restaurant on this planet in 5 years, there’s one thing amiss,” says Niland), and tuna bresaola and trout pastrami at Fish & Forest in York.
Niland can also be impressed by James Lowe, who pushed the marvel of prawn heads at Flor in London Bridge, by serving them on their very own in a scarlet stack.
If a little bit of crunch and slurp tickles your fancy, you’ll discover entire cod’s head at each A Wong and Fallow, additionally in London. In Cambridge, deli and restaurant Fin Boys describes itself as a fish butchery and serves aged and strange cuts of fish.
Niland presents a sensible path to preserving fish and seafood for future generations, however can we actually eat our approach out of depleted shares? Now we have now entered the period of Seaspiracy, the headline-grabbing Netflix film which inspires us to surrender fish altogether. The documentary reveals the trauma industrial fishing inflicts upon marine life, from dolphin massacres to lice-infested salmon rotting in fish farms, and questions if such a factor as sustainable fishing can ever exist.
The film-maker, Ali Tabrizi, investigates transparency, accountability and the ethics behind not solely business fishing but additionally main certifying our bodies together with the Earth Island Institute and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), typically held up because the gold commonplace of inventory intelligence and administration.
Tabrizi concludes there isn’t a such factor as sustainable fishing, that the one method to safeguard the way forward for our oceans – and our planet – is to surrender consuming fish and seafood altogether. “Clearly there’s no falsifying what received offered in that documentary,” says Niland, “however I feel the overarching remark on the finish – don’t eat fish – is a really biased opinion and I don’t suppose the answer. Over a billion individuals depend on fish as their primary supply of protein.”
Is there an answer? “Boycott Japan,” says Niland. Is he severe? “That’s perhaps a harsh remark however the need positioned on one single fish species [bluefin tuna] must be alleviated.”
Take One Fish has 60 recipes for fish grouped into 5 sizes. Niland encourages us to eat extra small fish resembling sardine and herring, which get better their shares shortly, however he consists of massive and additional massive fish resembling kingfish, tuna and swordfish as a result of he is aware of individuals will use them and needs to share his strategy.
With tuna, for instance, Niland sees it as beef. His recipe for tuna lasagne includes mincing offcuts to make use of in a ragu. It’s a bit extra advanced than an ordinary bolognese, however the effort pays off and I make a lasagne with wealthy umami depth and a meaty texture – consolation consuming and an fascinating new dish rolled into one.
“If we purchase these extra sinewy cuts for a lesser worth, it’ll make us really feel we are able to use tuna like this on a extra day-to-day foundation, as a result of it’s not constructed as much as be a extremely costly and extraordinary expertise.”
Seaspiracy claims the certification marks on many tinned manufacturers of tuna, in addition to different seafood merchandise, aren’t well worth the ink they’re printed with, taking a selected swipe on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which certifies over 400 fisheries worldwide, together with many within the UK.
Tabrizi alleges that the organisation isn’t rigorous sufficient, and that its mission is unimaginable anyway as a result of the oceans are a wild west the place it’s harmful for impartial observers to do their jobs.
The MSC has revealed a detailed response to the Seaspiracy accusations, insisting that sustainable seafood is a actuality and in reality a necessity to feed our rising inhabitants.
“One of many superb issues about our oceans is that fish shares can get better and replenish if they’re managed fastidiously for the long-term,” claims the organisation, including that its evaluation course of is clear and all fisheries should present proof that they’re “actively limiting undesirable catch”.
“Whereas we disagree with a lot of what the Seaspiracy documentary-makers say, one factor we do agree with is that there’s a disaster of overfishing in our oceans. The necessity to harness our pure assets extra responsibly is extra pressing than ever,” stated MSC.
In the meantime Niland has ventured into informal eating with a brand new restaurant, Charcoal Fish, impressed by Australian charcoal-chicken outlets.
“There might be a fish and chip choice,” he explains forward of opening final month, “however it received’t be a A$12 [£6] fish and chips. It is going to be A$30, and it will likely be perceived as costly. Finally all fish is pricey.”
Little question he knew his limited-edition prawn scorching canine, produced from minced prawns and styled to appear to be a daily canine, would get essentially the most consideration. “Individuals suppose that what I’m doing is a lot greater than it’s,” he says.
“It’s super-duper easy. When a pig involves market there’s a plan for each a part of it, but plans don’t appear to be constructed round fish. I’m in the beginning of a protracted journey to make a distinction on this subject.”
Take One Fish: The New College of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Consuming by Josh Niland, with pictures by Rob Palmer, is out now (Hardie Grant, £26)
Josh Niland’s tuna lasagne
8 dried lasagne sheets
100g (3½ oz/1 cup) finely grated Parmesan
50g (1¾oz/⅓ cup) finely grated mozzarella
For the ragu
½ bunch of thyme
1 contemporary bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, toasted
1 star anise
300ml (10 fl oz) grapeseed oil
3 garlic cloves, finely grated sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
1 massive onion, finely diced
1 massive carrot, finely diced
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
150ml (5 fl oz) pink wine
200g (7oz) tinned peeled tomatoes, crushed
250ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) water
250g (9oz) minced (floor) yellowfin tuna
For the béchamel
500ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) full-cream (entire) milk
1 Parmesan rind
50g (1¾oz) butter
50g (1¾oz/⅓cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
Freshly grated nutmeg, to style
Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked
To make the ragu, tie the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and star anise in a chunk of muslin (cheesecloth) to make a bouquet garni. Warmth 150ml (5 fl oz) of grapeseed oil in a big heavy-based frying pan over a medium warmth, add the garlic and a pinch of salt and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the onion and one other pinch of salt and cook dinner for 10 minutes, or till the onion is translucent and starting to color.
Add the carrot, fennel and one other pinch of salt and cook dinner for 10 minutes till softened, stirring each couple of minutes. Stir within the tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes, then add the bouquet garni and pink wine. Convey to a simmer and cook dinner till decreased and thickened to a glaze consistency, about 10 minutes.
Add the crushed tomato and water, deliver to the boil, then cut back the warmth to very low and simmer for 45 minutes, or till the sauce is thickened. Season to style with salt and pepper and put aside.
Warmth 75ml (2½ fl oz) of the remaining oil in a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over a medium warmth.
Add half the tuna and fry, stirring to separate the strands, till colored. Season frivolously then add to the tomato sauce. Repeat with the remaining oil and tuna, and stir to mix. Depart to chill utterly, then switch to the fridge.
For the béchamel,put the milk and Parmesan rind in a saucepan over a medium warmth. Convey to a mild simmer, then cut back warmth to low for 20 minutes.
Soften the butter in a separate saucepan over medium warmth. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes with a picket spoon to kind a roux. Take away the Parmesan rind from the milk, then steadily add to the roux, whisking after every addition.
Convey the sauce to the boil, then take away from warmth, stir in a bit grated nutmeg and season to style.
Carefully cowl the sauce with plastic wrap or baking paper to cease a pores and skin forming, then refrigerate till utterly chilly.
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
To assemble the lasagne, spoon a layer of the tuna ragu right into a 1.5-litre baking dish. Cowl with a layer of béchamel, then a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat the method with the remaining substances, ending with a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle over the grated cheeses and canopy with aluminium foil.
Bake for half-hour, then take away the foil and cook dinner for one more 10 minutes till golden brown and effervescent on high.