This is the last guest post in a 3-part guide for fish lovers by fishing expert Ben Caddaye.
Ben has been fishing for more than 35 years and writing about it for 20. He's a feature writer for Fishing World magazine and has been a columnist for Canberra's Chronicle newspaper since 2005.
Best fresh fish in Canberra
Canberra seafood fans can be excused at times for feeling like second class citizens.
While we’re just 90 minutes from the coast, the seafood we see in our shops has often been out of the water for days.
Why? Because, in the vast majority of cases, even a fish caught within sight of Batemans Bay has to make the trip from the south coast to Sydney before it comes back to the nation’s capital.
It makes selecting and buying seafood a dicey business if you’re a Canberran. But that doesn’t mean fish lovers in our landlocked city are completely without options.
I recently conducted a straw poll on social media to find some of the best places in Canberra to buy fresh fish.
I received lots of feedback from seafood fans across the city. Hopefully their tips and advice help you the next time you’re buying fish locally.
According to my straw poll, when buying seafood in Canberra, the overwhelming advice is avoid the supermarkets and focus on the fresh food markets.
There were plenty of “thumbs up” for the fishmongers at Belconnen and Fyshwick markets. The regular farmers markets at EPIC and Woden also rated highly amongst fish fans.
I have personally tried the fish from Moruya Seafoods, which sets up a stall at the Woden CIT Farmer’s Market, and it’s excellent.
Down south, Jardin Fresh Life at Tuggeranong got a few special mentions. And if it’s oysters you’re after, the outlet at Cook Shops is apparently well worth a try.
Regardless of where you buy your fish, there are a few tips you can use to choose the freshest fish possible from your favourite supplier.
Firstly, when buying whole fish, always pay attention the fish’s eyes. Clear eyes are a sign of freshness; slightly off-white or “foggy” eyes are a bad sign.
Secondly, trust your nose. Fresh fish, whether they’re whole or fillets, don’t have a strong smell. So avoid fish shops where the odour is overpowering. It’s a sign of a stale product.
Finally, ask questions. If you’re not sure about what you’re getting, ask the person behind the counter about the species and where it was sourced. If they choose to be vague or evasive or just plain unhelpful, shop somewhere else!
To round off my series of blogs on seafood, I thought I’d finish with one of my favourite fish recipes. This one comes courtesy of my mate and dead keen angler, John Cziesla, who is a bit of seafood cooking guru.
Recipe: Spicy tomato fish in flour
This is a quick and simple dry coating for fish fillets my father handed down to me that can be made up quickly and kept for future use. It is suitable for most types of fish, especially fish with a white flesh.
I have found it works particularly well with fillets of luderick, bream, leatherjacket, tailor, garfish and morwong amongst others.
- 200 to 250 grams self-raising flour
- 2 packets (80 to 90 grams) tomato soup powder
- 100 grams chicken or fish booster
- 15 grams Italian herbs
- 1 heaped teaspoon of Paprika
- ½ teaspoon of white pepper
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- The recipe is quite flexible and the above amounts can be varied to individual tastes.
- Optional Ingredients
- Chilli powder to taste
- Dried dill can be also added to the mixture
Combine all ingredients in a bowel and mixed well. Store in a glass jar or air tight container for future use.
The mixture should last for a couple of years provided it is kept in an air tight container and away from moisture.
Transfer the required amount of spicy tomato fish flour onto a plate and thoroughly coat the fish fillets, pressing the coating lightly into the fillets.
While the fillets can be cooked immediately after they have been coated it is best to place the coated fillets in the fridge to allow the flavours to absorb and the coating to stick. When doing this place a small amount of spicy tomato fish flour on the bottom of a plate, placed the coated fillets separately onto the plate (do not stack) and then sprinkle a small amount of the spicy tomato fish flour over the fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and place fillets in the fridge for 10 to 30 minutes.
Shake off any excess coating and cook the fish fillets in a pan where the oil has been pre-heated. Only heat the oil to a medium heat before cooking to avoid the spicy tomato fish flour burning and overcooking the fish.
Where have you found fresh fish in Canberra? Share with us in a comment below!
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