There are three essential things to a good trip away anywhere in the world: a place to stay, food, and people.
If you’re visiting Australia you’ll likely start in Sydney.
Once you’ve sorted yourself out some sweet Sydney accommodation you’ll want to find somewhere good to eat.
For an insight to Sydney culture and its culinary fame look no further than the Sydney Seafood markets and the incorporated Seafood School, at Pyrmont.
The classes are packed with Sydneysiders from all over the city and it will be a night to remember, to savour; more unique and interesting than a night at the pub to be sure.
Last night I went to my second cooking class and as I looked over the recipe booklet today there was a subtle sensory reminder of the eve’s fare. No, not because of a cut finger, or words or pictures, but smell.
The paper was pungent with cooking oil infused with Sichuan pepper, lime, coriander, deep fried squid and prawns.
Our task was to prepare salt and pepper prawns with a prickly ash (that’s a Sichuan peppercorn and salt mix), alongside chilli salt squid with a side of lime and coriander noodle salad.
In groups of six – ah, too many cooks in the kitchen, not enough… – we set to work at our cooking stations after having watched the guiding chef, one Ms Coralie Riordan, prepare the seafood feast in the school’s auditorium.
Meticulously peeling two kilos of raw prawns is no mean feat, friends. But it’s an Australian tradition, so get into it!
We six struggled to perfect the art of pulling apart the prawn heads complete with digestive tract, until Coralie’s happily buxom and boisterous assistant Fiona, taught us the tricks of her trade.
Prawns peeled, it was time to prepare the squid. Again, not a job for those too easy to be queasy.
Chop below the eyes, fiddle around ’till you find the squid’s inedible beak (mouth) and discard, wriggle fingers into the tube to move apart sinews holding the guts in place, pull the guts out, mind the ink, retract the plastic-like spine, cut off a wing, peel the skin off, wash, rub dry, cut and score.
Prawns, check; squid, check; salads…salads?!!
As with cooking any meal, success is in the timing. It was essential that the prawns and squid not be dipped in egg white and tapioca starch until both salads were made, and the peanut oil is at least 180 degrees for quick fast frying.
Mmm, deep fried seafood.
An hour later our party of six sat down to a beautifully prepared dinner table, with a bottle of crisp Tatachilla Sauvignon Blanc Semillon to boot.
Toasts all ’round we shamelessly delved into the prawns and squid, licking fingers, adding salt, swilling wine. Eyes lit up: the prawns were out of this world!