The world’s best seafood.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - MATT PRE­STON

AUS­TRALIA is justly fa­mous for its seafood but some things over­seas are too good to ig­nore. Th­ese five treats show that the rest of the world can al­most keep pace with us – and that great seafood sel­dom needs a great res­tau­rant to make it spe­cial.

MAZARA DEL VALLO RED PRAWNS

Th­ese small red-shelled prawns that they pull deep from cold sea off Si­cily are so sweet, so ten­der, that they’ll make you for­get your name let alone your prob­lems. Fleshier than the deep-wa­ter, sweet shrimp (amebi) caught off Hokkaido but just as sweet, they need lit­tle more than a splash of olive oil and a dot of salt to make them sing.

I once ate a kilo of them at Da Vit­to­rio, a cute fam­ily-run res­tau­rant close to where the prawns were landed. This orgy per­fectly ended a 10-day love af­fair with them as I ate my way across the is­land. I still think of them as fondly as any great hol­i­day ro­mance.

SEA URCHIN TOAST AT SAISON

San Fran­cisco is new-age foodie heaven and the 3-star Saison is one of its high al­tars. Chef Joshua Skenes tops a fat soldier of toasted sour­dough with a cold tongue of Cal­i­for­nian sea urchin roe, and then soaks the base in a warm emul­sion of soy, brown but­ter and egg yolks.

It’s crunchy, oozy, rich, hot and cold all at the same time but not so much that the foamy, crashed-wave fresh­ness of the sea urchin doesn’t shine through.

We raved so much about it that he sub­tly sent an­other wave of them out three cour­ses fur­ther on through the de­gus­ta­tion. It was just as good the sec­ond time.

FISH COOKED OVER COCONUT HUSKS ON LOM­BOK BEACH

Lom­bok might be named after the chill­ies that grow ev­ery­where but it has none of the in­ter­na­tional res­tau­rant heat of neigh­bour­ing Bali. Not that it needs it when you can sit with the ocean lap­ping your toes, eat­ing a small white snap­per cooked whole over a flar­ing fire fed with the hairy husks of coconuts that have fallen from the palms that sur­round you.

RICE THIEF CRAB

The name says it all. This Korean dish of raw crab mar­i­nated in a soy sauce brine light­ened with aro­mat­ics is so mind-numb­ingly mor­eish you’ll won­der where all the rice that’s served with it has gone.

Made with noth­ing more fancy than com­mon horse crab, which is the most caught crab in the world, the se­cret is cor­rectly bal­anc­ing the mari­nade so it brings out a del­i­cate, al­most umami sweet-salti­ness of the crab flesh.

Choos­ing fe­male crabs for the best “gan­jang ge­jang” means that there’s roe as well as rich toma­l­ley to mash through the last of your (third) bowl of rice once you’ve fin­ished suck­ing the soft flesh out of the legs.

TUNA BELLY

The com­bi­na­tion of fatty rich­ness and raw fish is es­pe­cially prized in Ja­pan where the fat­ti­est cuts of tuna com­mand top dol­lar and blue fin belly is at the pin­na­cle of this price pyra­mid.

Known as o-toro in Ja­pan, tuna belly is mar­bled pale pink, won­der­fully creamy and melts on the tongue. It can be eaten as sashimi or blazed but I like it warmed marginally on a bed of sushi rice which ac­cen­tu­ates that creami­ness.

Given that Ja­pan has cor­nered the mar­ket for tuna belly – the na­tion con­sumes 80 per cent of the world’s catch – Tokyo is the best place to get it even though much of it is ac­tu­ally im­ported from Aus­tralia and you will oc­ca­sion­ally find it on the menus of the best Ja­panese places here.

Sea urchin.

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