Jason Staudt knows seafood. Though he grew up in the landlocked Canadian city of Calgary, he fell in love with seafood while employed as a private chef on a yacht in Alaska. More recently he’s flexed his knowledge at Matt Moran’s Aria and Bea in Sydney, and now in Melbourne.
As the Van Haandel Group’s executive chef, Staudt champions Australian seafood across three restaurants in the same seaside building in St Kilda: beachfront fish’n’chips kiosk Paper Fish, casual, family-friendly downstairs eatery Pontoon and the elevated Stokehouse diner upstairs.
So when it comes to devising a seafood spread for Christmas, Staudt is bursting with and know-how. We asked him to suggest three standout seafood dishes to savour over the holidays – and the perfect drop to pair with each.
Sydney rock oysters with cucumber mignonette
Oysters are a classic seafood starter for Christmas day. While Stokehouse serves hand-selected Appellation oysters, Staudt says fresh Sydney rock oysters are perfect for home, served with a nice (and easy to make) vinegary cucumber mignonette. He recommends pairing the oysters with Bollinger Special Cuvée champagne because of its signature “toastiness”.
King prawn cocktails with a smoky tomato vinaigrette
If a prawn cocktail seems stock standard, wait until you’ve tried it with a smoky tomato dressing. You could go with generous king prawns, or level up again to Australian soft-shelled scarlet prawns, which Stokehouse serves in its ceviche and elsewhere on the menu. Paired with the surprisingly complex Ten Minutes by Tractor Estate Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula, these humble prawns take on a new life. “The prawn is quite rich,” says Staudt. “The chardonnay really counteracts that richness, and then the smoky tomato flavour is absolutely stunning with the chardonnay.”
Chargrilled baby octopus skewers with a capsicum and capers dressing
Whether or not you source baby octopus from Fremantle like Staudt does, chargrilling it on skewers brings a welcome Mediterranean influence to the Aussie beach barbeque that Pontoon channels every day. “Australia has some of the best octopus I’ve ever had, and I’ve travelled quite a bit,” he says. “The texture just holds like no other.” The Amisfield Pinot Noir – a lighter red from New Zealand – pairs well with the sheer meatiness of the octopus, especially alongside a summery dressing that heroes capsicum and capers.
“It’s almost like eating a steak,” adds Staudt. “It’s quite textural, especially over a barbeque char. And there’s no reason you can’t put seafood with a red.”
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Dan Murphy’s. For more inspiration on holiday entertaining - recipes and drinks included - check Dan Murphy's website.