"Brining is a good way to make the texture and flavour of raw seafood a little more pleasant," says Ben Devlin. "It can firm up the flesh, soften the sinew a little and season it nicely. This works with a wide variety of fish and shellfish, but for this recipe I'd recommend Spanish mackerel, amberjack, albacore or kingfish. If you have the opportunity, blending the macadamia for the milk a day ahead will give a better flavour, but this method on the day also gives a great result. I also like to roast the nuts for the nut milk on a wood barbecue for extra flavour, but roasting them in the oven does a good job too."
- 25 gm sea salt (1¼ tbsp fine)
- 200 gm boneless skinless Spanish mackerel fillet, cleaned of sinew
- 75 gm macadamias, plus extra coarsely chopped, to serve
- 30 ml macadamia oil
- 2 lemon myrtle leaves
- ½ tsp dried native pepperberry
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- To serve: mustard leaves or baby rocket leaves, lemon balm or wood sorrel, and edible flowers (optional)
- 1Preheat oven to 200C. Stir salt and 500ml iced water in a bowl until salt dissolves, then place fish in a container large enough to fit snugly, pour brine over and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- 2Spread macadamias on an oven tray and roast until browned and toasted (3-4 minutes), transfer to a blender while still hot, add 1½ tsp macadamia oil and 80ml water and blend until smooth. Place in a piece of muslin or a clean tea towel then squeeze to extract as much milk as possible (discard solids) and refrigerate until required.
- 3Pound lemon myrtle leaves, pepper berries and lemon juice with a mortar and pestle, until aromatic, then add remaining macadamia oil and pound to combine. Strain dressing through a fine sieve and season to taste.
- 4Drain fish from brine, pat dry with paper towels, slice thinly across the grain and arrange the slices on a serving plate. Pour macadamia milk into spaces between fish, spoon native pepper dressing over fish, scatter with chopped macadamias, leaves and flowers, and serve.
Note Lemon myrtle plants are available from native plant nurseries. Native pepperberry is available from Herbie's Spices (herbies.com.au); if it's unavailable substitute black peppercorns. Lemon balm is available from Flower Power (flowerpower.com.au) and select nurseries. Wood sorrel, also known as oxalis, is not available commercially; substitute baby sorrel leaves.
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