"Cooked over charcoal at a low heat, the hapuku skin crisps while the large white flakes stay translucent and soft," says Jordan Toft. "At Bert's we complement the sweet flesh with a salsa picante of house-preserved lemon rind and brined vine leaves made crisp by frying in oil. A twist of black pepper and you're ready to go."
- 6 hapuku fillets (250gm each), skin on, at room temperature
- 75 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 12 preserved vine leaves (see note), dried flat on paper towels
- ¾ preserved lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1Burn coals on a charcoal barbecue in a pile until embers are ashed over and reduced to low heat (about 45 minutes), then spread embers out in an even layer. Alternatively, preheat a barbecue to low heat.
- 2Brush fish with 3 tsp olive oil and season. Grill indirectly, skin-side down, until cooked halfway through, but still rare in the centre (25-30 minutes), then turn and grill on the flesh side until medium-rare (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to rest.
- 3Meanwhile, heat sunflower oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 180°C. Deep-fry vine leaves in batches until crisp (30 seconds per side) and drain on paper towels.
- 4Remove and discard flesh from preserved lemon, finely chop pith and skin, then coarsely crush with a mortar and pestle. Whisk remaining olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl until emulsified, add preserved lemon and mix well.
- 5Dress hapuku with preserved lemon dressing, season to taste and serve with crisp vine leaves.
Preserved vine leaves are available from delicatessens.
Drink suggestion: A subtle chardonnay such as the 2016 "Brunnen" from up-and-coming vignerons Schmölzer & Brown, from Beechworth, Victoria. Drink suggestion by Adrian Filiuta.