About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The Dentist's Fish
The 1993 movie Jurassic Park was memorable to me for two reasons. Firstly, for the sudden onset of full bladder syndrome suffered by my then four year old son, necessitating a dozen trips to the lavatory; those monsters were pretty scary! Secondly, it was the first time I ever heard mention of Chilean sea bass, which was served in one of the scenes.

Chilean sea bass is just one of the names given to Pantagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) a deep water fish found throughout large areas of the sub-Antarctic oceans, primarily the Southern Ocean and adjacent southern parts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The adult fish feed on prawns and squid and have only a couple of predators besides man, namely sperm whales, southern elephant seals and colossal squid.

Pantagonian toothfish is a relatively new commercial species, first fished for by South Americans who were forced from their traditional fishing grounds by large factory ships, which ironically then targeted toothfish when their popularity became established. The flesh is a pearly white with a high oil content that is particularly prized in some countries, notably Japan. Even though Australia has its own fishing grounds for this species, it has been very hard to come by here. The only taste the Australian public had, was stories of pirate fishing vessels being chased across the oceans.

I was wandering through Prahran Market on the weekend when I came by a chef setting up for a cooking demonstration. On the sign behind him, it said Pantagonian toothfish. I was in a state of high excitement! It was the first ever time I had seen it. It was $40 a kilo, but what's a foodie to do? Of course I bought some and took it home. Over the course of the weekend there was no opportunity to cook it, but plenty of time to think about which way to cook it.

I'm not going to tell you what exactly I did with it, because there is an event coming up which I'm entering (don't tell sam) and some of the ideas were tested out with the fish and will be posted about later on. However I can tell you that the fillets were pan fried, which was interesting in itself as the flesh barely changes colour when cooked, so requires a little bit of attention to make sure it's not overcooked. When cooking, a little bit of oil is released from the flesh, so not much oil is needed to start with.

The fillets cooked to a lovely sweetness, not dry at all and the flesh became thin flakes of fish that fell apart at the slightest touch. My daughter M though so much of it that I had to give her some of mine. Would I buy it again? Definitely, but only for special occasions. The upside is that the price of the toothfish makes the cost of wild barramundi look a whole lot better!
  posted at 8:21 am

At 7:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a tease but it sounds ultimately good especially daughter M's behavior!!!

At 11:14 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, all will be revealed on the 13th September!

At 3:35 pm, Blogger Gillian said...

Sorry, but I'll leave no comment on the Patagonian Toothfish. It goes in the list of Halibut and Sea Bass as endangered and I was lucky to eat them thirty years ago.
Cheers Gillian

At 3:57 pm, Blogger neil said...

It wouldn't be so bad if the pirate fishermen could be stopped. The fish I had was legally caught from around Heard Island, but I do understand what you mean.

At 4:05 pm, Blogger Gillian said...

Thankyou for letting me know that so soon. Of course, now, I want some.
Cheers Gillian

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