Three kinds of fish

Three kinds of fish

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

Remembering past birthday feasts of claws and shells made me think about the different textures of seafood and how best I like to enjoy them. Coral trout is always on my wish list of favourite fish, although you could use any firm- fleshed white fish here. Have the fishmonger shuck the live abalone, then slice it yourself at home. A 400 g abalone with shell usually yields 30 slices and you will only need 12 slices here. A mature abalone is preferred over the smaller-sized ones because of its better developed flavour, so freeze the excess to use later in simple sautés or long braises.

For the marron tails


Quantity Ingredient
50g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, bruised
1 bird’s eye chilli, lightly crushed
2 marron tails, each 150 g shelled, deveined
lemon juice, to taste

For the abalone

Quantity Ingredient
12 slices raw greenlipped abalone
50g unsalted butter
3cm piece of ginger,, crushed
2cm piece of galangal, crushed
1 garlic clove
2 thyme sprigs

For the coral trout

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
400g coral trout fillet, skin scored
a little olive oil, for frying
4 spring onions or bab y leeks
1 tablespoon cognac
100ml brown chicken stock
lemon juice, to taste
4 large shiso leaves, wilted in the stock, (see glossary)
1 teaspoon marron roe, extracted from the head


  1. Roast the marron tails:
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter with the garlic and chilli in an ovenproof frying pan. When the butter is nutty and redolent with garlic and chilli, turn down the heat and sear the marron tails for about 1 minute on each side. Season with lemon juice, salt and white pepper and finish in the oven for 5–10 minutes until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and take the marron out of the butter, reserving the butter.
  3. Prepare the abalone:
  4. Place the abalone slices on a tray or in a shallow dish. In a frying pan melt the butter with the ginger, galangal, garlic and thyme until the mixture smells of the aromatics and the butter has an appetising nutty smell. Take off the heat and strain over the abalone. As soon as the butter hits the abalone, quickly take the slices out of the butter and check that they have become pliable. The abalone will toughen with too much heat but will remain with its raw toughish texture if not enough heat. Reserve the butter.
  5. Prepare the coral trout:
  6. Combine the liquids, rub over the fish and leave for 30 minutes at room temperature. Steam over slowly simmering water for 10 minutes or so until the flesh easily flakes off. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes and then cut into 4 square portions for each person.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. Heat a frying pan and sprinkle with salt. When hot, add a little oil. Add the spring onions and roll them around to pick up the heat. Add 1 teaspoon of water to the pan, put the lid on and let the spring onions soften a little for a couple of minutes. Place one on each serving plate. Combine the reserved marron and abalone butters in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the cognac and let the alcohol dissipate, then add the chicken stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture looks separated, like unemulsified salad dressing.
  9. Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice. Arrange the marron, abalone and trout on each plate over the spring onion and scatter some of the sauce on the plate. Decorate with some torn leaves of wilted shiso and marron roe extracted from the heads of the marron that have been blanched and dried.
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