Author Alastair McLeod
My Grandfather, Thomas Guivarra, was born on Erub Island in the Torres Strait. So, when the opportunity arose to head north to learn about the food culture, meet family and explore this little known region, I jumped at the chance.
The Torres Strait islands form stepping stones between the tip of mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea. The region is a melting pot of cultures – indigenous, Asian and European – and this results in a dazzling array of food – one might say a true ‘taste of harmony’.
Kazuyoshi Takami has devoted his life to farming South Sea pearls. At his property on Friday Island, he offers stunning sushi and sashimi that includes his highly sought after sweet salty pearl meat. Despite it being worth up to $100 a kilo, he considers the meat a by-product to the pearl itself, so gives most of it away to friends and family. It forms a great base for the pickled fish dish, numus. But if you’re not lucky enough to source Kazu’s castoffs, substitute it for firm fleshed fish such as coral trout or mackerel.
I was surely the only child in Ireland to have been raised by such ballast as this and other dishes from the Torres Straits and tropical north Queensland, but hats off to my Australian mother to have replicated the food of my forefathers.
Lay the slices of coral trout, side by side on four plates. Cover each one with cling film and refrigerate.
To prepare the dressing, combine the orange, lemon and lime juice, olive oil, chilli, sugar, coriander, chives and season to taste.
To serve, uncover the coral trout, spoon over the dressing and spread it over the fish with the back of the spoon.
Leave for 10 minutes to allow the fish to cure then scatter with sesame seeds and green shallot
Chef’s tip… Substitute strained passionfruit pulp for the orange juice in the numus for a tropical nod. To gild the lily, scatter with cooked spanner crab meat.
- 400g coral trout fillet, skinless thinly sliced
- 40ml orange juice
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs lime juice
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 golden shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tbs fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 tbs chives, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
- ½ tbs white sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ tbs black sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 green shallot, trimmed and finely chopped