Painted and smoked kingfish

Painted and smoked kingfish

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

I’m inspired by the memory of the finely wrought forms of my grandmother’s carefully made coconut crescent pastries. Their memory is also associated with the greenery surrounding the place where she lived. The remembered smell of scrunched leaves on her farm pushes me to experiment with ways to preserve the green colour and floral scent of sorrel, which disappear when the leaf comes into contact with heat.

For the painted kingfish


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
100g sorrel leaves, central stems removed
1 tablespoon white soy sauce
400g kingfish fillets, without skin
1 cupful smoking chips, (eg hickory or applewood)
1 small handful green tea leaves, reconstituted in cold water

For the pistachio paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon noilly prat
60ml white wine
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
500ml light chicken stock
100g shelled pistachios
20 shelled pistachios, to garnish
small sorrel leaves, to garnish


  1. Paint and smoke the kingfish:
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, soft and sweet. Add the garlic and thyme and continue cooking until the smell of raw garlic has gone. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Use a hand-held blender to purée the onion mixture with the sorrel and white soy sauce. Add salt to taste and season quite generously with freshly ground white pepper. Put through a fine sieve. Cut the fish into long pieces along the natural separation of the fillet (so there will be larger and smaller pieces). Brush all over with the onion mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Light smoking chips in a hot foil-lined pan until they give off smoke, place thoroughly drained green tea leaves over the chips, then transfer the pan to the bottom of the oven. Put the fish on a rack in the oven and smoke for 15 minutes. The intention is to flavour the fish, not cook it through, so keep an eye on it. If in doubt, remove the fish from the oven and check whether it has enough smoked scent. Return to the oven if necessary.
  4. Make the pistachio paste:
  5. Put the noilly prat, white wine and vinegar in a saucepan and simmer until reduced to one-third of its original volume. Pour into a clean pan with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the pistachios and simmer gently for about 1 hour until the pistachios are soft. Place the pistachios in a food processor or blender. Mix together equal amounts of strained braising liquid and water and gradually blend into the pistachios until the mixture has the consistency of a smooth nut paste. Pass through a fine sieve and season with salt if desired.
  6. Assemble the dish:
  7. Cut the fish into small slices. Arrange a few pieces on each plate and add a little pistachio paste. Scatter with pistachios and garnish with sorrel leaves.
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