17 Jun 2019

Trash to treasure: unpopular fish that deserve to be on your plate

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 17 June 2019

Any fish treated well can be delicious eating, says chef Tom Hutchison from the Wellington restaurant Capitol.

He's challenging New Zealanders to reconsider eating fish that are more commonly used as bait – 'Waste nothing!'

Tom Hutchison

Tom Hutchison Photo: supplied

Fish species that Tom says New Zealanders are underusing and not appreciating, include:

  • Oily fish such as mackerel, mullet, sardine, pilchard and piper
  • Kahawai – very available here, but not very popular
  • Red cod: "Red cod can be juicy, the skin can be crispy and lovely and you wouldn't think it's a cheap fish."
  • Monkfish – highly regarded in Europe, but often considered a "secondary fish" here: "It goes fabulously in curries, it chunks up really nicely and cooks and caramelises."
Trash Fish ?

Trash Fish ? Photo: Tom Hutchison

Keep an eye out for fish cheeks which are "very very tasty", Tom says: "Groper have got wonderful cheeks, big monkfish have got good cheeks, tuna… Albacore tuna."

Also fish wings, which are good when you chargrill them then flake the meat off.

Fish skin has a lot of flavour so Tom recommends cooking it skin-on.

"You can take a fish that doesn't necessarily have a lot going on and the skin, once it crisps up, adds a lot of flavour and a lot of oil into the fish."

  • First, season the skin side generously with salt
  • Then place it in heavy skillet skin-side down.
  • Cook it 85-90 percent on the skin side before flipping it over.

Tom usually cooks fish with a low-flavour oil such as canola or rice bran: "Olive is not so good, butter is always a winner."

On 4 August, Tom Hutchison is hosting a 'long table party' called Trash Fish and Second Thoughts in Wellington as part of Visa Wellington on a Plate.