The simple joy of having a charcoal chicken and a salad for an easy dinner from your local takeaway is the inspiration for a new eatery by one of Australia’s pioneering chefs, Josh Niland, and his partner (in business and life), Julie Niland.
“So many Australian families, ours included, on a near-weekly basis enjoy the convenience of a healthy meal of grilled chicken and salad. And yet this same simple luxury does not extend to fish,” said the Saint Peter restaurateurs in a statement.
Opening in late June, Charcoal Fish will be the charcoal-seafood equivalent of the suburban cooked-chook shop, and will serve crowd-pleasing, everyday food – made just as you’d expect at a restaurant. But unlike a regular fish’n’chips shop, Charcoal Fish will only serve one fish: sustainably farmed Murray cod by Aquna, sourced from Griffith, NSW.
“We have always championed diversity in the fish we use, but Charcoal Fish is about being dynamic and diverse with one fish,” they said.
Whole Murray cod (with stuffing) will be cooked on the rotisserie over charcoal until crackled to perfection. Boneless fish fillets will then be hand-picked and added to rolls and covered in gravy. The same meat and the crisp skin will then be added to a salad of butter lettuce, avocado and charcoal tomatoes.
The show stopper, they say, will be the butterflied, boneless Murray cod cooked over the smoky charcoal grill, available as a whole fillet or a half, quarter or single serving. There will also be fish collars served with a fermented tamarind hot sauce; seasonal salads; charcoal-grilled vegetables; and a Murray-cod-fat caramel ice-cream made with rendered fish fat. Sadly, there’s no mention of the chips just yet.
Murray cod was chosen for its sweet white meat that both grills and travels well, so it will remain crisp on its journey from the shop to your home. “The Murray cod also provides for an innovative use of all its parts (92 per cent), in line with our waste-minimisation practice,” Josh says.
Like Saint Peter and the Nilands’ fishmonger, Fish Butchery, the new shop will have a strong sustainability focus.
“Gravy will be made from the heads, frames and fins. The gravy will be spooned over floury baps filled with picked rotisserie cod fillet. The offal from the fish will be removed and allocated to the team at Saint Peter and Fish Butchery, where we will continue to make our charcuterie selection for retail and restaurant.”
While Charcoal Fish will be like a suburban takeaway shop in many ways, its practices and produce mean it can’t have the prices to match. “The generation before me grew up in an era where fish had always been relatively cheap and lesser celebrated. Often thoughtlessly captured or processed fish, i.e. tap washing, trawling etc, were dredged in batter and fried for the lowest price. Unfortunately, the damage this has done to perception when purchasing fish takeaway is not to spend more than $12 a portion.
“We are setting out to elevate the standards of fish and how we cook, prepare and store our fish, but we are also trying to create a fish shop that the next generation can walk into with their families – a fish shop where the meal exceeds all expectations while remaining accessible. Our guests will see the provenance, science, love and attention that has gone into creating their meal,” Josh says.
Charcoal Fish is slated to open at 670 New South Head Road, Rose Bay, in late June.