Look, there really isn’t much more that I love than alcohol and seafood. Honestly, name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait. Cold beer and fish ‘n’ chips. Shrimp and white wine. Abalone and saké. See what I mean?
Recently I went on a little spearfishing trip and came home with a pair of beautiful kingfish; one of my absolute favourite fish. The reason I love kingfish so much is not only are they particularly fun to catch but they also taste really good –cooked or raw. In fact, kingfish sashimi would be my all-time favourite raw fish.
I brought my kingfish home, sliced up the fillets and knew this beautifully oily, white flesh was destined for greater things than simply ending up in the frypan.
I skinned the fillets and trimmed up some of the edges and the bloodline. Typically, I’d make sure the fillets are nice and chilled then simply thinly slice and serve with some soy – easy and delicious. Whilst this is certainly an option I recommend, I was entertaining and needed a little more of an interesting touch to the dish. This is when I grabbed my favourite bottle of gin!
I won’t get too science-y today, but simply put, alcohol is a hydrophilic substance just like salt and sugar, so when it comes into contact with other liquids (i.e. the wet flesh of a fish) it wants to draw out and attract the moisture, thus dehydrating the meat and ‘curing’ the fish.
Not only does it give the fish a fantastic texture but using spirits like gin is a great way to impart interesting flavours into fish. You could even try curing trout with whisky before smoking it.
I took the fillets and cured them with salt, sugar, and gin for about 24 hours, turning the fillets at the half way point. After they were done, I gave them a quick pat down with paper towel and then thinly sliced them. This ended up being one of the entrées for a beautiful dinner party with a big group of my closest friends. And remember, waste not, want not – we used the salty, sweet, gin juice left over from the curing as a dipping sauce. Stunning.
Have a go at curing fish the next time that you’re entertaining friends, or just for a nice dinner at home. Get experimental with different types of fish that might be available to you and of course different types of gin and spirits. Think about the flavour combo and how it will match, and choose nothing but the freshest fish!
Here’s my recipe:
For 1 medium sized fillet of kingfish, I used:
• 150mls Gin
• ¼ cup white sugar
• ¼ flaky sea salt
The day before serving:
1. Skin your fillet and trim the edges, then put it into a tray and simply douse the fillet in the gin then evenly sprinkle with the salt and sugar on both sides. Turn after about 12 hours to ensure the curing is even.
The day OF serving:
2. Pat down your fillet with a paper towel. The salt and sugar should have turned to liquid by now, so no need to rinse it off.
3. Slice into pieces 3-4mm thick and arrange on a platter. The gin juice makes a nice dipping sauce – feel free to add some finely chopped spring onion and green chilli.
I’d love to see your pics! Share them with me on Instagram by tagging me, @hazfos
Harry Foster is a former Masterchef Australia contestant and NQ lad who each edition gives us a taste of his energetic approach to food.
Follow Harry’s foodie adventures on Instagram @hazfos