Chef's Recipes

Paul Carmichael's creole fish

Restaurant Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael has added a modern twist to his Mother's Creole sauce recipe. Rather than smothering the snapper in the spicy sauce, Carmichael encloses the sauce and the fish in a banana leaf parcel, en-papillote style.

By Paul Carmichael
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 15 mins cooking plus resting
Paul Carmichael's creole fish

"The term Creole refers to a mix, in this case the combination of African and French that created this distinctive style of cooking," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael.
"Creole cooking is typically characterised by the use of indigenous ingredients that are cooked with a base of tomatoes, capsicum and onions. In our household back home, Creole sauce was a quick sauce that could be whipped up to pour over rice or anything for that matter. The following recipe is refined in comparison to what I would make as a kid. In a pinch, if you only have tomato, capsicum and onion, add a bit of garlic, ketchup and water and you can make something tasty. My mum would steam this fish and smother it in Creole sauce, but I switch it up a bit and cook it en-papillote using a banana leaf as the wrapper. Tip: save some sauce to serve with your peas and rice."
The green seasoning here makes enough also for the Bajan roast pork and peas and rice.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 banana leaves for wrapping
  • 2 red snapper (substitute another snapper if red isn't available), scaled, gutted, fins trimmed (800gm each)
  • 2, plus extra to serve halved limes
Green seasoning
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large spring onion, chopped
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley (loosely packed)
  • 3 tsp thyme (loosely packed)
  • 3 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 habanero chilli
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Creole sauce
  • 350 gm onions, thinly sliced (2 medium)
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated
  • 200 gm red capsicum, cut into julienne (1 medium)
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 habanero chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 small fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 250 ml fish stock (1 cup)
  • 25 gm tomato sauce
  • 1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 20 gm butter, diced

Method

Main
  • 1
    For green seasoning, process ingredients in a food processor to a slightly coarse paste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup; you'll need 50gm for this recipe and reserve remainder for Bajan roast pork (½ cup), and for peas and rice (20gm, about 1½ tbsp).
  • 2
    For Creole sauce, sauté onion in olive oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat until softened (7-8 minutes).
    Add garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, then add capsicum and celery, and sauté until softened (4-5 minutes). Add remaining ingredients except butter and cook over low-medium heat until liquid has reduced and vegetables are tender (25-30 minutes). Adjust seasoning and stir in butter. Cool.
  • 3
    Preheat oven to 200C. Trim thicker edges on banana leaves and wilt each leaf over a gas flame (10-15 seconds per leaf, or blanch them). Place snapper on plates and squeeze a lime over each, stand for 5 minutes, then lightly pat dry. Season both fish with salt and rub green seasoning inside and out. Place each fish on a large piece of wilted banana leaf, slather with Creole sauce, then top with a second, smaller piece of banana leaf and tuck the sides under, then bring sides up from bottom leaf to enclose fish completely and secure with toothpicks, ensuring there are no gaps that will leak. Place fish parcels on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch any drips, and bake until fish is cooked and a skewer inserted meets little resistance (25 minutes). Serve fish with extra lime.

Notes

Drink Suggestion: Wine suggestion Adelaide Hills pinot noir, such as Manon 2015. Drink suggestion by Ambrose Chiang