Lightly smoked barramundi, clams, mushrooms, seaweed broth, guanciale

Lightly smoked barramundi, clams, mushrooms, seaweed broth, guanciale

New Classics
Mark Roper

A dear friend of mine, having eaten this for the first time, said: ‘This dish doesn’t have a home!’. She felt it was kind of Asian but also Mediterranean and French all at the same time. A native freshwater fish, surf clams, Asian mushrooms, ginger, seaweed and locally made but Italian-style cured meat … let’s just call it an Australian dish.


Quantity Ingredient
600g fresh clams
1 tablespoon plain
1 fillet from a 3 kg fresh barramundi or a mild white-fleshed fish, such as cod or pike
10g salt
1 litre water
2 cups hickory chips
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 sheet kombu seaweed, broken into small pieces
40g fresh ginger, thinly sliced
50g jasmine rice, roughly crushed
120ml light olive oil
garlic, crushed
1 sprig thyme
100ml dry vermouth
400ml Chicken stock
50ml light soy sauce
salt and pepper
6-8 mushrooms, stalks trimmed, per person,from a combination of Asian mushrooms, such as enoki, shimeji, shiitake and chestnut mushrooms

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
1 bunch samphire or coriander sprigs
12 guanciale, super-thin slices


  1. Purge the clams in a bucket of cold water with the flour whisked in. Agitate with your hand in the water occasionally then drain after 30 minutes.
  2. Trim the wings and tail excess from the fish fillet and make sure there are no scales, but leave the skin on. Either portion the fillet into 6 or alternatively leave the fillet whole to serve banquet-style on a platter. Dissolve the salt in the water. Place the fish in a shallow dish and pour over the brine. Remove after 8 minutes for smaller portions or 10 minutes for the whole fillet. Drain and gently pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Meanwhile, place the hickory chips into a heavy baking tray and place over high heat, shaking the pan, until the chips ignite, this should take about 4–5 minutes. Stir so all the chips smoulder and smoke then turn off the heat and place a wire rack over the chips. Put the fish on the rack and cover with a lid or aluminium foil. Leave to cold-smoke for 30 minutes.
  4. In a wide-based saucepan over medium heat, sweat off the fennel, shallots, button mushrooms, seaweed, ginger and rice in the light olive oil until they start to colour slightly, about 4–5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme then add the liquids and bring to the boil. Add the clams and cover with a lid.
  5. Cook the clams, shaking the pan for several minutes until they start to open. As the first ones open take them out with tongs, so they don’t overcook. When all the clams in the pan are open pour the rest into a colander set over a bowl. Discard any clams that have not opened. Pick the excess vegetables and ginger off the clams then set aside.
  6. Strain the reserved broth through a very fine sieve. Check the seasoning, remembering that the clams can be quite salty.
  7. Bring a steamer up to a simmer over low heat and put in the fish. Steam the smaller portions for 8 minutes or the larger fillet for 12 minutes.
  8. Warm the broth in a large saucepan over low heat and add the mixed mushrooms. Bring to a simmer then add the clams to warm through.
  9. To serve

    Serve the fish in bowl plates or a deeper platter for the larger piece. Ladle over the clams and mushrooms. Garnish with the samphire or coriander and the guanciale and serve.
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