Sunshine, family and seafood is a winning combination on most Australia Christmas menus.
To get the lowdown on serving the perfect seafood feast, I recently caught up with one of Queen Victoria Market’s fishmongers, Gary Rapley from Gazza’s Gourmet Seafood (cover photo: Yianni from Seafood & Oyster Spot). Here are his tips and tricks for getting Christmas seafood right:
Shop the best of the season. While prawns, oysters and crayfish are all popular choices for Christmas Day, it’s also a great time of year to buy a whole snapper or blue eye. Roast or grill it and pop in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.
Know what fresh looks like. Not exactly sure what to look for when purchasing seafood? Me either! But, Gary has some simple tips for knowing whether you’re buying the freshest of the fresh…or seafood that’s seen better days!
- Whole Fish: bright and lustrous skin or scales, shiny eyes and bright pink-red gills
- Fillets or cutlets: bright and firm flesh, no discolouration or bruising.
- Opened oysters: look wet, have not sunken into the shell and have a fresh sea smell.
- Unopened oysters: closed (or close when tapped) and have a fresh seafood smell.
- Prawns: brightly coloured, firm and intact shells that aren’t slippery to touch and no discolouration particular at joints.
Buy your prawns frozen. Modern blast freezers maintain far better quality in seafood on a boat that’s a few days away from harbor than a fridge. This is why most prawns are snap frozen on board.
If possible, buy your Christmas prawns frozen and thaw them at home. That way, as soon as they thaw you can cook them and enjoy at their peak.
Beat the rush and hit the market on 23 December. Even if you’re up bright and early on Christmas Eve, expect Queen Victoria Market to be very busy from dawn. For a more relaxed lead up to the big day, shop for your seafood on 23 December.
Since seafood is also in such high demand, it’s worth speaking to your favourite fishmonger and placing an order in the lead up to Christmas, so that you know they’ll have what you’re after.
Keeping your seafood fresh is as easy as 1-2-3. It might sound obvious but seafood will stay fresh longer if it’s kept cold. Just follow these three steps:
- When shopping for seafood, use a chiller bag or esky. You can also ask your fishmonger to pack some ice with your purchase.
- Once you’re home, take your seafood out of the plastic bag. Place on a plate or in a lidded container. Cover with a damp cloth and then with plastic wrap or the lid.
- Always store seafood in the coldest part of your fridge.