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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Friday, January 29, 2010
Surf 'n' Turf
A fairly common menu item that pops up in not a few pubs and the occasional restaurant is a marriage of meat with seafood, colloquially known as surf 'n' turf, usually a steak topped with a couple of prawns, though Jamie Oliver does an over-the-top version with fillet steak and lobster.

In most cases, meat is the dominant partner and the seafood acts as a garnish, but what if this convention was turned on its head?

Fish topped with a bit of meat!

Don't groan, listen up, I'm here to tell you it works.

But you need to know something too, something that Asian cooks have always known, seafood isn't some tender virgin bride needing to be handled with kid gloves, it can handle flavour, strong brutal flavours; think spicy fish curry or hot and aromatic tom yum soup.

Also, think of fish as acting in the way pasta does, carrying other flavours to your mouth and just like pasta, has to be cooked just so, there is nothing worse than limp, soggy pasta or the dry accusing strands of overcooked fish.

So be bold with your flavours and careful with your cooking.

Surf 'n' Turf Flathead Tails
(serves 4)

extra virgin olive oil
200g small pancetta*, cut into thin strips
2 stalks rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, chopped if large (optional)
glass of dry white or rose wine
1kg flathead tails i.e. boneless, or other chunky white fish fillets
salt and fresh ground pepper
few stalks fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a fry pan, gently heat some olive oil and gently brown the pancetta and rosemary. Add the capers (if using) and the glass of wine. Scrape any sediment into the liquid and reduce slightly. Season the flathead tails and place them in a baking dish coated with the extra virgin olive oil. Evenly pour over the pancetta/rosemary mixture and tuck the thyme stalks amongst the fish and drizzle over some more oil. Loosely cover with foil or baking paper and cook in a preheated oven(180c) for about 20 minutes. Insert a knife into the fish to check if they're done and if ready, sprinkle over the parsley and serve. Make sure everyone gets some of the delicious juices.

*small pancetta, sometimes known as Ukrainian ham, is simply pork belly rubbed with a spicy mixture that includes a lot of garlic, rolled and then cured. It's more like ham in texture than regular pancetta. If you can't get small pancetta, you can use ham or regular pancetta instead.
  posted at 3:42 pm

At 6:35 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

Just had some flathead tails yesterday but no meat on them, just the usal dusting of flour and a squirt of lemon juice.

This post brings to mind the late, great 1970s meat-and-fish dish almost unseen today - carpetbag steak. The combination of oysters and scotch fillet actually works really well but too many people turned their noses up so off the menus it went.

At 11:12 pm, Blogger Katie Zeller said...

Thanks for the reminder... Mon mari is not a fish person; I am. I also think he should eat it once a week or so (good health and all that) So.... I could make me Surf & Turf and him Turf & Surf. What a great idea!
Oh, and your recipe is pretty good, too ;-))

At 11:18 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kh, I did carpetbagger a few years ago, but something was missing, still brewing on that one.

Hi katiez, my brother-in-law would eat fish...then find some meat afterwards on the grounds he hadn't eaten any!


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