Steamed Murray cod with roasted lobster consommé and young ginger

Steamed Murray cod with roasted lobster consommé and young ginger

William Meppem

Murray cod is an unique native freshwater fish. It is caught between 6 and 12 kg, which makes it the king of Australian steaming fish. There is a ban on commercial fishing for Murray cod in some states but farmed Murray cod are an excellent alternative. The flavour can be a little earthy hence Asian flavours suit it best. Coral trout, red emperor and wild barramundi are very good steaming fish too, and could be used instead. A highly respected Chinese chef once told me that all fish that feed on the bottom are good for steaming and all that feed on the surface are good for frying. I have found there is a lot of truth in this and you can try it as a guide.


Quantity Ingredient
1 live crayfish or lobster
4 x 200g murray cod fillets, skin on, scaled and pin-boned
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50ml chinese shao xing rice wine or sherry
75ml sesame oil
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 root young ginger, finely julienned
1 bunch micro coriander or small coriander, with some root attached

Lobster consommé

Quantity Ingredient
50ml sesame oil
8 egg whites
pinch salt
1 large root young ginger, finely minced
1 leek, finely minced, white part only
1/2 small carrot, finely minced
12 dried shiitake mushrooms, minced
1 small bulb fennel, finely minced
1/2 bunch coriander roots, well washed
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
2 long red chillies
2 litres Chicken stock
150ml light soy sauce
150ml mirin
50ml chinese shao xing rice wine or sherry
light soy sauce


Quantity Ingredient
2 garlic cloves, minced
50ml sesame oil
400g fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1⁄2 cm thick slices
2 bunches spring onions, chopped into 3 cm pieces, white part only
2 roots young ginger, finely julienned
2-3 green chillies, finely sliced


  1. Place the crayfish or lobster in the freezer to go to sleep. When it is asleep, wearing rubber gloves, remove the head from the crayfish, reserving the tail in the refrigerator until required.
  2. To make the consommé, cut the head into small pieces – it is advisable to lay some newspaper down as this can be a messy business. Put the shell pieces into a hot frying pan with the 50 ml of sesame oil and seal all over until well roasted and caramelised, for about 5 minutes. Then transfer into a large saucepan or stockpot.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to form soft peaks, combine gently with the minced vegetables, coriander roots, spices and chillies.
  4. Pour the chilled chicken stock, soy sauce and mirin over the shells then stir in the minced vegetable and egg white mixture. Bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring quickly all the time so the mixture does not catch and burn on the bottom. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer. A crust will form on the top of the stock – make a hole in one side of it and skim any impurities that rise to the surface. Continue to simmer gently for 1 hour, then pass the stock carefully through muslin or a fine sieve, pouring from the side where you made the hole in the crust. Season the broth with Chinese cooking wine or sherry and light soy sauce to taste. Keep warm, covered with a lid.
  5. Assemble a Chinese-style steamer over a pot of boiling water. Remove the crayfish tails from the refrigerator and cut into medallions, giving 4 even-sized pieces, and remove the dirt sac from each medallion. Once the steamer is boiling, season the crayfish medallions and the Murray cod lightly with salt and pepper. Place the cod in the steamer skin-side up resting on a suitable plate (to catch the juices), sprinkle with Chinese rice wine and steam for 6–8 minutes over a medium heat.
  6. To make the stir-fry, heat a large frying pan over a high heat and combine the garlic and sesame oil. Add the crayfish medallions to the pan and gently sear for 1 minute on each side. Add the shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, ginger and chillies and stir-fry together for 2 minutes.
  7. Now the Murray cod should be cooked. Pierce with a fork – if it pierces easily it is ready. Heat the 75 ml of sesame oil in a small saucepan until hot, then pour it over to scald the fish. Divide the stir-fried vegetables – reserving the crayfish pieces – between 4 deep bowls. Arrange a portion of cod over the vegetables, and pour the consommé over and around the fish. Top with 1 piece of stir-fried crayfish and sprinkle with spring onions, ginger and coriander.

Chef’s note

  • For a less complex delicious alternative you could simply infuse some clear chicken stock with soy, mirin, ginger, other Chinese aromatics and some Chinese rice wine. But making a consommé is a rewarding culinary process and once you master it you can apply it to many dishes.
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