A chat with... Wallace Mua
Auckland executive chef Wallace Mua has just taken the reigns at FISH restaurant, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge about Polynesian cuisine and six years of experience working in Europe.
What’s the biggest challenge in creating dishes for a predominantly seafood restaurant?
The toughest part is availability. If a bad storm rolls in, the fishing boats can’t head out, which means we have to get a bit creative!
What do you think will be the ‘next big thing’ in seafood?
I see Polynesian cooking as an upcoming food trend – it’s all about showcasing the soul of the dish without overcomplicating it with too many extra flavours.
What’s the biggest mistake homecooks make when cooking with seafood?
Overcooking. You should know your fish is cooked when you see the milky protein start to seep out of the fish. It’s always better to undercook seafood.
What makes white-fleshed fish sing?
If I had to pick one accompaniment
for white fish, it would be brown butter – the nuttiness it adds is delicious. I’m also a fan of tarragon and chervil.
What is the best kind of fish to cook on a barbecue?
My mantra with all seafood is to keep it simple. You can’t go wrong with a whole snapper. Start if off with a splash of olive oil, and halfway through cooking, rub it with crushed garlic and mixed herbs.
What’s your quick go-to fish meal if you are at home?
Fish en Papillote. A fillet of fish thrown together with some fennel, a squeeze of lemon and some pastis all in a paper bag for around 10-15 minutes in the oven.
Can you share a good batter recipe for fish and chips?
Combine 300g potato flour, 100g rice flour (plus additional for dredging), ½ teaspoon baking soda, 3g sea salt, 1½ cups sparkling water and the zest of 2 lemons.
Can you suggest a dish to whip up for a dad on Father’s Day?
Something hearty like a Surf and Turf – a scotch fillet or rib eye, some scampi and deep-fried pommes fondant.
Which seafood do you think we should eat more of, and why?
Cheaper fish that are in abundance, like mackerel or kahawai. Embrace their earthy flavours!