28 May 2024

From the ocean to the plate, new cookbook highlights South Coast seafood

| Claire Sams
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South Coast seafood will be put under the spotlight in a new cookbook. Photo: Andrew McLaughlin.

More than most, Lynda Sloan knows how important it is to pick the right seafood.

“A lot of the customers that I see constantly ask what species to buy and what to do with it, what’s local and what’s fresh,” she said.

“All those questions are fired at you every day at the shop.”

Those questions were answered in the first cookbook in the Port to Plate series, which showcased seafood from the Port Stephens area in the NSW Hunter region.

“What I wanted was a write-up on the local species. I collaborated with local artists to illustrate the species for us and spoke to local chefs,” Ms Sloan said.

“The book was about educating consumers and trying to encourage them to eat different species – ones that are just as sustainable and available to them as the more well-known ones.”

A new cookbook will focus on the unique seafood found on the NSW South Coast, which covers the waters from Wollongong to Eden.

“There are just so many stories to tell,” Ms Sloan said.

“The South Coast is really prominent in seaweed, their oyster production, abalone farming and also their sea urchin harvesting. All of those industries will get quite a good showcase.”

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While the first book looked at sustainable seafood practices, the second will have a different focus.

“We’re going to talk about the supply chain, how cooperatives work and feed up into the Sydney Fish Market,” she said.

“But that supply chain really starts when the fish comes out of the water. This book links the fish in the water to when it hits your plate.”

The pages will feature recipes and menus developed by South Coast chefs and producers.

“The chefs that are involved in this book are all high-end chefs, but a lot of the recipes have been developed so you and I will be able to cook from our own kitchens,” Ms Sloan said.

“This book is going to cover everyone: from someone who just wants to cook something really basic to the person who really wants to be challenged.”

A drawing of a snapper

Artwork from Huskisson’s Judy Panucci will find a home on the book’s cover. Image: Judy Panucci.

A QR code featured in the book will also let readers access video content filmed during the project.

“It will show them the auctioning process, the fish coming in [for sale],” Ms Sloan said.

“When you go to a recipe, the chef will pop up and he’ll talk about the dishes and what inspires him and a little bit about his career.

“They’re the guys that have the responsibility for picking up these products and making something really special that we eat.”

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A passion for seafood was a common sight, Ms Sloan said.

“When you come down here to the South Coast, people are so committed to supporting their industries and having local produce,” she said.

“In general, consumers of seafood are really interested in learning about species, where they come from, how stock is managed and how they are caught.”

An upcoming third book in the series is set to profile seafood from the NSW North Coast region.

“I really enjoy working with these people, collaborating and working with everyone,” Ms Sloan said.

“You forge relationships that you hold on to forever.”

Port to Plate cookbooks are available for purchase online. The South Coast-focused edition is set for release in November 2024.

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