Chef "Big Les" Leslie Cannold Narrates these featured recipes:
Initial Notes: Never take a recipe as the only way to do it. Start with the way a Chef or a book describes, try it - then change it to suit what you like. With seafood especially - use the freshest seafood you can get. Avoid anything that has been frozen, and if you know where it was caught - pay a lot more for seafood that was caught really close to where you live, instead of in another country.
If you ask when you go to buy your seafood, you will be surprised by how revealing the sales staff often are. Tell them seafood ingredient topics you are thinking of and ask them what the best is that they have or of say three options. For example: 'I was considering doing prawns, scallops or some kind of fish... what is the best local seafood you have at the moment? Or is there something else I should consider?'
Often they will tell you which the best prawns are for example that they have at the moment or they might promote a fish to you that is particularly good. Always ask and you can take that seafood home and cook with it and if it impresses you - obviously the trust will go up next time you ask questions.
If you are cooking seafood on a budget - always buy the best produce you can get: just buy less. If you are cooking with a healthy budget - remember if you have heard of something interesting you want to try and it's not available - you just ask the seafood store if they can buy it for you when they go to the fish markets - and if available they will always be able to get it for you - it will just be a question of cost.
"Brilliant seafood meals don't have to be expensive - but if you get the best quality seafood from your fish shop (even in a small quantity) and use some of these recipes I provide - you will enjoy some really great meals." Leslie "Big Les" Cannold.
Garlic Prawns on Heat
There are many recipes for garlic prawns, they don't vary a lot, but it's the understanding of the cooking method and how things change as you cook them that will transform your garlic prawns from passable to best ever.
- Dozen Unpeeled King Prawns
- 4 tbl Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 2 Fresh Chillies
- 3 Tbl Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 Bunch Parsley
- 1 Lemon
Pick the parsley leaves and cut them medium fine asside. Peel your garlic cloves then slice them in half lengthways, take the stalk out of the middle of each half of the clove as this is the part of the garlic that becomes bitter most easily. then finely chop the rest of the garlic
Finely cut your chillies and leave the seeds in for hotter or exclude them for milder. Cut your lemon in half lenghtways. Put asside one half of the lemon, with the other half, slice into wedges.
Leave the shells on the prawns, but remove the heads. Cut the heads in half lengthways. Then cut along the prawn in half lengthways and remove the dark digestive tract. Remembering to leave the shell on.
Here is where the understanding of the recipe method becomes important.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the butter and prawn heads, then add the garlic and chilli. At this stage you are flavouring the oil and butter with prawn, garlic and chilli. It's this concept of flavouring the butter and oil that sets your final dish appart from the rest.
Add the prawns flesh side down, cooking briefly. Then add in half your parsley and toss the prawns. Then squeeze in half a lemon. Toss the pan again, then quickly remove the prawn halves with tongs into a bowl. Add another large piece of butter to the pan.
With tongs divide the prawn halves over the number of plates you are serving them on. Sprinkle with more parsley.
Remove prawn heads from the pan, then spoon the remaining mixture over the prawns. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge.
Tip: Some people like eating the prawn heads. In this recipe, the prawn heads become more pleasant to eat the crispier they are so you may need to return then to the pan with a bit more oil and butter and fry them for a few minutes.
Note: When you squeeze lemon over seafood while it's cooking in a pan, the sugar in the juice increases temp quickly and chars onto the seafood and the rest steams away off the pan. You let the steam subside then remove the seafood from the pan.
Crumbed Whiting Fish Fillets
Whiting is one of the best eating fish in Australia. This method is about adding some crunch to the eating experience, also protecting the delicate flesh of the whiting fish as you cook it.
- 8 whiting fillets (skin on)
- 100g plain flour + potentially more
- 2 eggs
- packet bread crumbs (300g+)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil - around 4 tbl
- lemon wedges to serve
On one dinner plate place around 100g of plain flour with some salt and pepper. On the next plate place 2 wisked eggs. On the third dinner plate put about 300g of bread crumbs. Place a fourth plate for the breaded fish to be reserved on before you cook them.
One by one, dust the whiting fillets in the flour, shake off excess flour. then submerge in the wished eggs... allowing the excess to dripp off. Then place on the bread crumbs and cover to coat fully. Place each fillet on the final plate, as you repeat for the remaining fillets.
Please cook them this way the first time. Then if you want to add spices and mess with the flavour I suggest you add the spices to the egg - not the flour.
Gently cook the breaded whiting fillets in a pan with hot olive oil. You are aiming to cook the bread crumb covering - as a guide. With minimal coking the fish inside will cook perfectly. Think 30 seconds each side.
Remove from the pan (having cooked them in batches) and serve with lemon wedges as finger food.
Piri Piri Prawns
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) oil
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1kg prawns, peeled, deveined, tails intact
- 75g unsalted butter
- 60ml lemon juice
Place the oil, chilli flakes, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a large non-metallic mixing bowl and mix well. Add the prawns and coat them with the mixture. Refrigerate for around 3 hours.
Preheat the griller to very hot. Put the prawns in a single layer on a baking tray and brush with the remaining oil and chilli mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once or until cooked through.
Meanwhile melt the butter with the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Serve hot drizzled with the lemon and butter mixture drizzled over the top with some rice.
Piri Piri is a type of chilli (if you want to look it up - see also: pili pili) - 'piri piri chicken' is very popular at the moment, emerging from a Portuguese brand typically. But all it is - is: chilli, lemon, oil, capsicum and garlic (as in the description above).
There are some pre-prepared sauces you can buy, always go with the Portuguese ones and buy all three to start with: mild, medium and hot. Experiment with each to your taste. What I've found though is what is available for sale is usually a dipping sauce or pouring piri piri sauce. When I've used it during cooking it's lost some of it's taste offering.
Sauces are always better if you home make them without the preservatives, sugar or corn derivatives. So please try the recipe above first... then as I always say - adjust from there.
- Whole bream (scalled and gutted)
- Sea Salt
- Olive Oil
On a large piece of alfoil, put some olive oil and a few good grinds of sea salt. Place the fish on the alfoil and wrap into a loose but air tight packet.
Preheat oven to 200c place the packet on a baking tray in the oven for 12 minutes. To check if the fish is cooked properly - open the packet and pull gently at the flesh with a fork. If it gives easily and comes away from the bone - it is ready to serve.
Serve with wedges of lemon, and salad / chips.
While the three key ingriedents in French cooking are "butter, butter and butter,' the key ingredient with seafood is 'restraint.'
The fresher your fish is - the less you have to dress it up with further flavours for it to be exceptional. Restraint is a core intelligence when cooking, especially with seafood.
If your guests aren't likely to find a whole fish on their plate appealing, simply take the flesh off the frame before you serve it.
- 24 large prawns, peeled and deveined (uncooked)
- 150ml Chinese rice wine
- 2 red chillies, thinly sliced
- Teaspoon finely grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Put the prawns in a non-metallic bowl. Mix the rice wine with the chillies, ginger and sugar and pour over the prawns. Leave to marinate for half an hour.
Heat a wok until very hot. Take 60ml of the rice wine out of the marinade and add it ot the wok. Heat it till very hot, then light it by holding a match above it, or tilting the wok towards the gas flame.
Let the flame burn and die down – then add all the prawns and the rest of the marinade to the wok. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the prawns turn pink. And serve immediately.
I haven't messed with this recipe yet, perhaps just because I just like it as is - and perhaps also because I haven't had the time yet. The only thing I've adjusted so far is the chilli content (as that is my primary area of exploration at the moment).
I'm most interested at the moment in learning about chillies. I am very much not interested at all in the chilli heat. But the flavor of all chillis minus the heat. I believe chillies have a lot to offer on a taste level way beyond the 'heat' perspective so many chefs use them for.
I'm growing chillies in my home garden at the moment, drying some and doing other interesting cheffyy stuff with them and other interesting gardening stuff with them.
Spicy Fish Cakes
- 2 small dried red chilies, stalks removed
- 500g fish fillets (skin removed) (either: snapper, groper, halibut or barramundi)
- 1 stalk of lemongrass cut into 3 pieces
- 1 onion peeled and cut in half
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- Generous pinch of ground turmeric
- 60ml coconut milk
- Teaspoon of grated palm sugar
- Teaspoon ground coriander
- Teaspoon shrimp paste
- Tablespoon unsalted macadamia or peanuts (unsalted)
- Tablespoon chopped mint
- Tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
Soak the chilies in boiling water. Put the fish in a food processor and blend to a think puree. Scoop it out and into a bowl.
Drain the chilies and put in the processor along with the other ingredients and a pinch of salt.
Blend to a paste. Add the paste to the fish and mix well.
Make into paddies and wrap each of them in foil. Use a couple of tablespoons or larger if you want.
Cook them on the barbecue or in a frying pan and cook for 5mins (longer if the paddies are larger than 2 tablespoons).
I wrap them in banana leaf for presentation instead of foil (you can still cook these on the BBQ wrapped in banana leaf). If you are pinning the banana leaf together for cooking with toothpics - make sure you soak them in boiling water so they don't burn.
This is a base recipe you can work with to create your own variation. You can make them hotter - or increase the amount of fish you use or type of fish.
But I want you to try the recipe I presented first... be happy with that - then vary it. If anything - to make these fish cakes better you use lower heat and fewer ingredients... and feature the fish more. But realistically this isn't a meal that features the fish very well. It's more of an all the things mixed together flavor with fish just used as the protein.
At any rate - you can get some really great outcomes with fish cakes - just experiment with them, and enjoy.
Salmon with Creamy Tikka Sauce
- Tamari or Soy Sauce
- 2 or 3 Salmon Steaks Cubed (2cm)
- Sesame oil
- Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, potato, baby spinich, bok choi)
- Sesame Seeds
- Coconut Cream (400ml)
- Water (400ml)
- Vegetable Stock Paste
- Quinoa (200g)
- Cashews (2 handfuls)
- garlic (2 cloves)
- Ginger (1cm)
- Honey (teaspoon)
Cube the salmon into a bowl, drizzle with tamari and sesame oil then put to one side).
In a saucepan, coconut cream or milk and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and add quinoa, turn down and simmer for 20 minutes.
Chop vegetables and steam, add the salmon cubes (for the last 2 minutes and sprinkle the salmon with sesame seeds).
Tikka Sauce - drain the quinoa and set asside (pour the liquid into a blender).
Add cashews, garlic, ginger, teaspoon vegetable stock paste and a dash of tamari. Blend on high till you have the desired consistancy.
The tikka sauce is quite exceptional, and can be used in several other dishes.
If anything, cook the salmon less rather than more. If it is pink in the middle that is preferrable, but cook to your own preference.
Oyster po' boys
- 60g self-raising flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 egg
- 125ml milk
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- 18 oysters shucked
Sift the flour, spices and a pinch of salt into a bowl.
Beat the egg and milk together and gradually add to the flour, whisking to make the batter smooth.
Prepare deep frying oil to 180 degrees celcius.
Pat dry the oysters, dip into the batter and deep-fry in batches for one or two minutes or until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels, then serve.
Let's get serious about oysters - if you can get the best fresh oysters you want to eat them raw - perhaps - PERHAPS if anything only a squeeze of lemon only on them.
But if you can get fresh oysters very regularly, maybe you may want to try some alternate things you can do with oysters.
At any rate - only ever use fresh oysters no matter how you prepare them... and care for them well before serving.
It pains me sharing this recipe, as I only eat them raw. But have at it if you want something different.
Tagliatelle with Prawns and Cream
- 500g fresh tagliatelle
- 60g unsalted butter
- 6 spring onions finely chopped
- 500g prawns, peeled, devained and tails intact
- 60ml brandy
- 310ml thick cream
- Tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- 15g chopped flat leaf parsley
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, then drain.
While that's cooking, melt the butter in a big heavy based pan, add the spring onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Add your prawns and cook stirring for a further 2 minutes. Remove the prawns from the pan and set aside.
Splash in the brandy and boil for two minutes or until the brandy is reduced by half. Stir in the cream then add the thyme and half the parsley.
Season with pepper freshly ground.
Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Return the prawns to the sauce and cook 2 mins, then season to taste.
Toss the sauce through the pasta, and taste. If you want the sauce thinner - add a little hot water or warm milk... a little at a time.
Just before serving - toss in the remaining parsley.
Making fresh pasta is very easy to make and once you get use to doing it and cooking with it - you will always cook your own home made pasta fresh every time - it's fifty times better than bought pasta.
A good way of understanding fresh pasta - is:
Q: If mangoes were in season, would you buy a fresh mango or buy a can of mangoes that were picked and canned at their best in season?
A. If you would buy a fresh mango - then you are the type of person who would really enjoy and value fresh pasta - because it's just that much better and "nothing can touch it."
Personally, I'd try making fresh pasta if you have not already and just practice. It doesn't take long to master - just watch a few videos online and remember to fold it over and again. It really is worth it to make fresh pasta. Chef Leslie Cannold.
Leslie Cannold's Teriaki Salmon
- Salmon steaks or fillets
- Salt & pepper
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1cm Ginger
- 3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Rice Wine (Mirrin)
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- Dash Olive Oil
Grate garlic and ginger into a large zip lock bag, add all other ingredients and mix - add salmon. Place in fridge for between 20 minutes and an hour.
Cook marinated salmon in a non-stick pan with a dash of olive oil - to preferred doneness. Serve with rice or pasta and gently steamed vegetables.
Cook once as above, then try adding chilli to the marinade or to the rice.