One after the other the fishermen on the wharf reeled in their catch as we looked on from the timber deck on the historic cargo shed-turned-restaurant above. Watching the sunset with 180 degree vistas of ocean, lake and mountains was nothing short of magnificent. The freshness and quality of our meals—coupled with salty air and the theatre of the anglers on the fishing platform below—made for a most memorable evening.
We dined at the Merimbula Wharf Aquarium and Restaurant during our recent trip to Merimbula on the beautiful Sapphire Coast of New South Wales. Fresh local seafood is a feature on the menu, so I was very keen to try the seafood linguini. Owner, Anthony Daly, is a qualified chef and I took the opportunity to chat with him briefly about the dish which, I might just add, was simply delicious! Anthony said he was surprised that I'd noticed the inclusion of anchovies. 'Most people don't pick that up,' he said with a smile. I asked if he'd mind if I shared my take on the dish when I got back home and he kindly obliged (many thanks, Anthony!).
In my creation of this dish I used our home grown garlic, chillies, baby spinach, basil and parsley; together with store bought cherry tomatoes (as my own crop had largely failed in the extreme summer heat). The seafood component included extra large Australian prawns, Australian calamari and flathead, and New Zealand green-lipped mussels (as they were only ones available). For the pasta, I used spaghettoni, as that's what I had in the larder, but you can substitute linguini if you prefer. The recipe is loosely adapted from Rick Stein's linguini ai frutti di mare in his book, Rick Stein's Seafood (BBC 2001).
Bear in mind that you'll need to work quickly when preparing this dish, as the freshness of the ingredients is imperative and there is nothing worse than overcooked seafood! And take care not to 'cook down' the tomatoes too much.
SPAGHETTONI WITH SEAFOOD A LA LIZZY
About 1kg mixed seafood: green prawns, calamari or squid, mussels, scallops and white fleshed fish
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup good olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bird's eye chilli, chopped
3-4 anchovy fillets, chopped
350g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
1/2 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
baby basil leaves, to garnish
Prepare the seafood. De-beard and scrub the mussels, set aside. Peel and devein the prawns, set aside. Slice the squid or calamari into rings, set aside. Cut the flathead into large bite sized chunks, set aside.
Start boiling the water for the pasta in a large heavy-based pan. Add a little salt to the water, then add the pasta and cook for around 11 minutes until it is al dente.
Meanwhile pop the mussels into a saucepan with half the wine, cover and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the mussels have opened. Tip them into a strainer, reserving the cooking juices. Now heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan over medium heat; then add the garlic, chilli, anchovies and tomatoes and cook, stirring gently, for 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the wine and the cooking juices from the mussels and simmer briefly; then add the prawns, calamari or squid, scallops (if using) and the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Add the mussels and stir until heated through. Stir in the baby spinach leaves at the last moment.
Drain the pasta and return it to the large pan. Pour the seafood and sauce mixture over the pasta and toss over a very low heat until heated through. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with the fresh chopped parsley and serve garnished with baby basil leaves. Serves 4.
Merimbula Wharf Aquarium and Restaurant is situated on the point at Lake Street in Merimbula. The restaurant is open daily from 10am through to the evening, and fish feeding takes place at 11.30am Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Aquarium.
Note: Peter and I visited the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales for the EAT Festival and we were generously hosted by Sapphire Coast Tourism. Please watch Good Things for my upcoming postcards and morsels about the EAT Festival, our special guided tour of the Aquarium with Anthony Daly, and more about the food we enjoyed and the other foodie folks we met in the district.
Tell me dear readers, do you enjoy fishing? And where's your favourite fishing spot in your part of the world? Do tell! : )
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.