We talk a lot about waste these days. And a great deal about the horrendous pilfering of the oceans and the devastating effect this will have on our futures and the future of the planet. It is a subject many of us grapple with every day in our choices. Many would say the choice is simple, just live differently and give up all foods that continually damage the planet. Unfortunately the problem is never that straightforward and the solutions entail a complex dismantling of the world that has evolved.
The world’s food cultures are based on practices and environments that existed long ago. We have not always been as absurdly greedy or wasteful as we are now. If you look carefully you will find myriad inspiring dishes that use everything edible from a creature. One of the things I like to do is target these recipes that use what are usually discarded ingredients. If we are going to fish our oceans, which man has done for more than 40,000 years, it is incredibly important to use every part of the fish that we possibly can.
This is the most beautiful fish soup recipe – it hails from Provence, France – which uses the bones and, sometimes, the head of the fish. It’s easy to forget when you buy an expensive fillet of fish that there’s a whole head and skeleton going to waste, and there is so much good meat left on those bones. This recipe also reminds us that, as years go by, we need to remember the lessons from the past and use food in a way that respects both the beast and the earth.
This recipe is colloquially known as a Provençale fish soup. It’s a rich, hearty dish best served with garlic croutes and rouille. I have made it here using just the skeletons, as cleaning fish heads can be a bit of a struggle for a novice. For best results the soup needs to be passed through a food mill or mouli with the medium disc fitted. This creates the distinctive texture of the soup. And if you happen to find yourself in Paris in the next little while, I can certainly recommend the version you will
• find at Le Dôme.
Photography: Earl Carter
ANNIE SMITHERS is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.