Fishing on the Reef

Saffron Tomato Relish-The Beginnings

Saffron Tomato Relish-The Beginnings

We have never pretended to be particularly good at fishing-we’re more enthusiastic than skilled-but we catch more than enough fish etc. to feed ourselves, give a little away, and freeze to take home.

After 6 visits to Coral Bay and this part of the Ningaloo Reef, we are pretty good at knowing where to fish for particular species.

We fish mostly drifting over the coral (and the coral is dense), using big hooks, big baits and no sinkers. We let out a little line to attract the smaller, pretty fish, they then alert the big ones. When we feel a decent bite, we retrieve our line as quickly as possible-if we’re not quick enough, we get taken into the coral. We lose a bit of gear, but not much and I would say 99% of the time, we are out there doing it all on our own.

Yesterday, we came home with 8 red throat emperor (we are allowed 4 each), 2 Charlie Court Cod and a stripy sea perch. We released as many, or more, size emperors too. No one else put in a line over the coral.

Depending on the tides and swell, we can go straight to a spot and catch 60cm spangled emperor, we know where the goat fish live, where we’ll definitely catch spotted cod, or Charlie Court Cod, or the red throat emperors. We can fish to order!

Russ made us a yummy brunch before we went out yesterday of smoked fish slice (it wasn’t quite and omelette or a frittata so I’ll call it a slice). We ate it with grilled Carnarvon tomatoes and toast.

Smoked Fish Slice

  • 4 eggs,whisked
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 100g smoked fish, flaked
  • Salt and Pepper
Smoked Fish Slice

Smoked Fish Slice


  1. Preheat grill (broiler)
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Heat a pan over medium heat, spray with oil.
  4. Pour the mix in turn heat off and allow to stand for two minutes.
  5. Place under the grill for a further 2 minutes, or until set.
  6. Slice to serve.

For dinner I made us a recipe I’ve made quite often. It’s posted on by Felix 4067 and is called Ralf’s Pretty Good Pistachio Baked Fish. It tasted great as usual, but the photos were a disaster! The original recipe uses butter-I used olive oil as that’s what we travel with.

Ralf’s Pretty Good Pistachio Baked Fish

  • 1 lb (about 400g) fish fillet ( I used red throat emperor)
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used panko crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled, chopped fine and divided
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (I used olive oil)Ralf's Pretty Good Pistachi Baked Fish (Jan's Bad Photos)


  1. Cut fish into serving-size pieces and check for bones.
  2. Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup pistachios, cheese, parsley, and mustard in shallow dish.
  3. Dip fish in milk and roll in crumb mixture; place in shallow greased baking dish.
  4. Drizzle with butter; sprinkle with remaining pistachios.
  5. Bake at 450°F allowing 10 minutes per inch of thickness measured at its thickest part or until fish flakes when tested with a fork.
Ralf's Pretty Good Pistachi Baked Fish (another of Jan's Bad Photos!)

Ralf’s Pretty Good Pistachi Baked Fish (another of Jan’s Bad Photos!)

Today (Friday 9th) we’re not fishing so I’m making tomato relish using those beautiful Carnarvon tomatoes once again.  Weather Willie told us it would be too windy to fish today, but it’s not really! We’re quickly losing faith in the Bureau of Meteorology  especially when the weather for Coral Bay comes from Learmonth 107kms away.  Learmonth is on the Gulf of Exmouth rather than the Ningaloo Reef too, so that makes it even worse.

I’m making a triple batch of a Maggie Beer recipe. She says to use her verjuice (of course) but it would cost me around $40 to do that so I’m using cider vinegar instead. I made one small batch using verjuice the first time I made it, but since then, have used the cider vinegar. To my mind it works a (cheap) treat.

The flavours of this relish are simple, but it’s one of my all time favourites and I make it often. I have to really love someone to give them a jar of it!

NB When I triple the recipe, I only double the salt!

Saffron Tomato Relish

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 700 ml verjuice
  • 1 pinch saffron thread
  • 600 g ripe tomatoes, skinned (see the intro)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Saffron Tomato Relish-The Finished Product

Saffron Tomato Relish-The Finished Product


  1. Place sugar and verjuice in a stainless steel saucepan and stir over a low heat until sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil over high heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until reduced and syrupy.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the saffron threads and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for ten minutes or until softened.
  4. Add the tomatoes, verjuice, saffron syrup and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 -2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the syrup has reduced and thickened. Season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Immediately transfer to a sterilised 500ml jar and seal, then turn upside down to ensure lid is sterislised by the hot mixture.

Relish will keep in the refrigerator for a few months once opened or unopened in a cool place for up to a year


2 thoughts on “Fishing on the Reef

  1. Jo

    Hi Jan – I hope you are planning to publish a travel / recipe book with all these fabulous photos and recipes. Move over Maggie Beer…….


  2. Pingback: Ranch Eggs My Way | jan and russ round oz~fishes and farm gates

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