Book review: Take One Fish: The New School of Scale to Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland

19 August 2021 by
Book review: Take One Fish: The New School of Scale to Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland

Chef Josh Niland of Sydney restaurant Saint Peter revolutionised fish cookery in 2019 with the publication of his first book The Whole Fish Cookbook. His approach applies Fergus Henderson's nose-to-tail philosophy to seafood, "shifting the focus to valuing diverse species and all parts of their edible components", allowing chefs to achieve up to a 90% yield from a wide range of fish, rather than the usual 45% that is represented by the fillets alone.

Niland's second book shows there's still much milage in the idea, with a collection of strikingly original creations. Fish offal is put to imaginative use in dishes such as salt and pepper John Dory tripe (deep-fried cured stomach) and a John Dory liver terrine that looks like a foie gras equivalent, made with rendered fish fat harvested from species such as snapper and kingfish.

Niland often treats fish like meat, aging some species for up to four weeks. He transforms yellowfin tuna loin into ‘nduja by adding a ground spice mix of paprika, black pepper, fennel seeds, nutmeg and chilli flakes (and more of that rendered fish fat), while whole flounder is butchered down to French trimmed bone-in chops and prepared gai yang-style, a spicy Thai dish usually made with marinated and charcoal-grilled chicken.

You'll need to bone up on your knife skills to reverse-butterfly red gurnard that is then flavoured with tikka marinade and served with spiced chickpea yogurt, or to remove the spine and gut a mackerel from the top down so that it can be stuffed with shallots, pine nuts and currents and served with an agro dolce dressing. But there are less demanding recipes too, like swordfish schnitzel, and salted sardine fillets and globe artichokes on grilled bread.

Not every chef wants a dehydrator full of snapper's swim bladders or mason jars of heads fermenting into garum (to make into a caramel to top a custard tart), but Take One Fish is so full of delicious, different and doable ideas that no kitchen should be without a copy.

Take One Fish: The New School of Scale to Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland (Hardie Grant Books, £26)

Continue reading

You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.

Already subscribed?

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

close

Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking