A chat with... Wal­lace Mua

Food - - Food For Thought -

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!

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