Category Archives: Seafood

Mallacoota

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

In February of this year, we bought a Travel Auction package we saw advertised on TV to a Mallacoota caravan park. In these auctions, you are told what it would cost, then you make a bid-the top 50 bids win. The parks RRP for a 10 night stay was $330, we bid $180 and won. We then had to pick a date for travel within 12 months of winning. Mallacoota is right on the Vic/NSW border, so close to 520 kilometres from Melbourne OR Sydney you wouldn’t argue about it, and considered one of Victoria’s most remote towns. It has a population of around 1000 that swells to about 8000 over the summer holidays (that’s why we came just before!)

We left Daniel’s place in pouring rain (the wettest we have ever had to pack up in) and headed east of Traralgon for the very first time with the van.  As we travelled, we realised why we’ve never come this way before with the van-the roads are a disgrace to the state of Victoria. So very rough towing a van!

One patch of about 1 kilometre of road outside Stratford was so potholed, we just knew we’d arrive to all sorts of mess inside and we weren’t wrong. We have a portable oven, hotplates and fruit bowl that fit neatly into a spot on the bench beside the fridge and above the built in hotplates in the van. That stuff has travelled all over Australia sitting there but when we arrived and opened the van door in Mallacoota, it was all strewn all over the floor. Squished tomatoes, avocados and electrical goods covered the floor!

Mallacoota

Mallacoota

We set up in the rain and it continued for the next 20 or so hours without a let up, but Sunday afternoon it cleared for a while so we managed a drive 3 ks out of town to the very beautiful Betka Beach to take a look and some photos. Wow, what a lovely spot to have to ourselves.

Betka Beach

Betka Beach

Monday, we braved the wind and took the boat out for a bit of a fish. The boat played up-coughing and spluttering and generally being a bit scary to be out in that wind. The fish were hiding and it was a waste of time for a number of reasons. We came back in and Russ arranged to have the boat looked at by a local mechanic the following morning.

Tuesday was a perfect day for fishing, so after collecting the boat from the mechanic, followed by an early lunch, we set off out. The boat seemed to be going well, then once again, it started spluttering and coughing-so much for the miracle fix we’d just paid for! Never mind, it was a super calm day, so we just limped out a tiny way, parked up in a pretty spot and started to fish.

We only brought 7 fish into the boat, but all were well over size so we counted it a great success. We came home with 5 flathead and one bream, returning one 33 cm flathead as that’s just too small to bother with at the fish cleaning table. Fish for dinner Wednesday night, and some for the freezer.

Tuesday night, we had a yummy dinner at Lucy’s Handmade Rice Noodle Shop here in town. A funny little place where you grab your own wine glasses, water,condiments and hope the food you ordered makes it to your table. We had the best steamed bbq pork buns I’ve ever had, fried pork dim sims I’d have not known were dim sims if I hadn’t ordered them (hand made and so different from shop bought), really delicious chilli prawn salad and fried rice. The bbq pork buns were ordered as pork noodles but somehow got lost in translation so we missed out trying the handmade noodles. Oh well, now we have to go back!

Shipwreck Beach

Shipwreck Beach

Today we hung around the van, watching the cricket, until the boat-motor-fixit-man called to say it was done. By the time he called, it was too late to go fishing, so we went out to Shipwreck Creek and Beach and Pebbley Beach for a drive. Back home, we had our flathead tails for dinner.

Flatty tails

Flatty tails

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Crab Enchiladas (for want of a better name!)

Crab Enchiladas salsa on

Crab Enchiladas salsa on

Sunday we took the day off fishing and crabbing to do some vanwork (as opposed to housework). With no undies left, my bath towel (which hangs by the kitchen sink in here) smelling distinctly of garlic, and our fishing clothes walking to the boat ramp ahead of us, it was time to do the laundry. Three loads later and before lunch, we headed back out to the old bore on the former Peron Station to continue down the road and find the elusive shearing shed Charlie and Beaty had told us about.
Shooting up the shearing shed must be how the locals have fun

Shooting up the shearing shed must be how the locals have fun

They also told us there was very little to see, which proved to be true. Not a particularly old shearing shed, it must have been built just before the station was handed back to Conservation and Land Management (CALM). Nor was it particularly photogenic but I tried.

Old fences on the former Peron Station

Old fences on the former Peron Station

After visiting it, we drove down a couple of tracks on the coastal side of the Denham road finding some old cattle yards and wells-once gain not particularly pretty but still, interesting.  Lunch, a cuppa with Charlie and Beaty, folding the loads of washing, then lamb chops and silky, buttery mashed spuds finished a lovely day!

Yesterday (Monday 21st July), we went out to Monkey Mia just before lunch to do some crabbing. Unlike last time, the crabs were very scarce. It took about 3 hours to come home with 7 crabs and 14 good sized sand whiting (we fish while the pots are down). As usual, it was gorgeous out on the water with scores of dolphins out fishing, playing and minding their sex slaves (go see the video at Monkey Mia and you’ll learn all about sex slaves!). Back at home, Russ cooked the crabs and filleted the fish. We had homemade pasties (just like my mum used to make) for our dinner.

Tonight, I took half the crab meat (the rest went into the freezer) and made  Crab Enchiladas. Not traditional enchiladas which have a sauce I can’t get here in Shark Bay, but my version of the dish. I got a similar recipe from our son Todd many years ago, but his uses cooked chicken. I also added in cumin powder and  coriander to my versions of his recipe. Call it what you like, it’s still a good way to use crab (or a bought BBQ chicken).

Crab Enchiladas (my way)

  • 1 cup crab meat (or thereabouts)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 190g can corn
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sliced pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Tabasco sauce
  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 jar salsa ( I used a mild tomato)
  • 1 cup (about) grated cheese
  • Crab Enchiladas salsa on

    Crab Enchiladas salsa on

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c
  2. Mix together the crab, corn, sour cream, spring onions ,cumin, jalapenos fresh coriander, lime juice, and tabasco sauce,
  3. Spoon the mix onto the tortillas and roll up. Place in a greased baking dish.
  4. Cover with salsa, then grated cheese.
  5. Bake in oven til the cheese is golden and the mixture bubbling-about 25 minutes.
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Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

We had a late brunch yesterday (bacon and eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms on toast mmmmm) then went over to Monkey Mia to crab.

On the way across, I commented to Russ that if we happened to get any crabs, I’d make risotto for dinner Friday. We haven’t heard of anyone in the park crabbing, or getting crabs so I thought maybe they (the crabs) had moved on. How wrong was I. We’re only fishing on one licence now as the fishing is poor and 20 crabs is enough but they were there in huge numbers.

Pearl farm Monkey Mia

Pearl farm Monkey Mia

We had 8 nets out and every run (we did about 6) got us at least one, and often two, crabs in each net. We threw back lots of just size crabs to bring home 14 big beauties. I also pulled in a shovel nose shark/ray that was at least 1.2 metres long in one pot .  Russ has only ever been nipped by a crabs  a couple of times but one got him yesterday. It was undersized with one deformed claw. We threw it back, went back and picked that net up again 20 minutes later and there the nasty little bugger was again!

Back from crabbing watching Shotover go out

Back from crabbing watching Shotover go out

Last night we cooked the crabs and put them in the fridge-this morning we picked them. Out of interest, I weighed the meat. We got 1.2 kg! Then out of interest I priced blue swimmer crab meat-about $60 a kg so quite a nice little feed! We froze three packs of around 300g each, and kept back about 300g for risotto tonight.

Dubaut Inlet

Dubaut Inlet

After lunch we went for a drive to Dubaut Inlet-a lovely little creek Beaty and Charlie have often spoken of but we’ve never seen.  We probably did 10 ks of 4WDing through biridas, up and down red sand hills, to a little inlet surrounded by mangroves. It was one of those flat, still days when it becomes hard to tell the sky from the sea-very beautiful. It was a great few hours.

At home, I made crab risotto for dinner and we sat, as usual, telling each other how lucky we are!

Crab Risotto

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 leek, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, divided
    • 1 cup aborio rice
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 3 cups chicken stock (approximately), kept simmering on another burner
    • zest of a lemon, divided
    • 2 tablespoon shredded basil, divided
    • 30 g grated parmesan cheese
    • 60g butter
    • cracked black pepper (much as you like)
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • Cooked crab meat (as much as you have, or want for two people)
Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

Method

  1. Heat the oil and cook the leek until it’s well softened. Add half the garlic and cook a minute or so more.
  2. Add the rice and cook until it’s coated with the oil. Tip in the wine and cook, stirring, until it’s evaporated. Now start and add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring until it’s completely evaporated, before adding the next.
  3. This might take about 25 minutes in total but keep stirring and when you get near the end of the stock, start tasting a grain of rice-it needs a bit of bite in the centre but to be 9/10ths cooked. When you reckon it’s almost done, add in half the lemon zest and shredded basil.
  4. When you are sure it’s done, turn the heat off and stir through the butter and parmesan, the lemon juice and black pepper. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
  5. Mix together the remaining garlic, basil and zest to make a gremolata
  6. Serve the risotto in a flat disc, sprinkle over the gremolata, top with the crab. Eat!

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Quick Fish Curry

Quick Fish Curry

Quick Fish Curry

After an afternoon spent fishing off Eagle Bluff, I wanted something super quick for dinner. I decided to curry the snapper we caught. The fishing was slow, but the weather was gorgeous so it wasn’t a totally wasted drive out there.

Quick Fish Curry

  • 1 tablespoon veg oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • Curry paste (I used 3 tablespoons Sharwoods Korma)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into 2 cm squares
  • White fish fillets, (enough for 2 people) cut into big chunks
  • Chopped spring onion to garnish
  • Steamed Rice to serve

    Quick Fish Curry

    Quick Fish Curry

Method

  1. Heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, cook over a medium heat stirring, until the onion is softened.
  2. Stir through the curry paste, cook a couple of minutes, then add the coconut milk. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if the sauce cooks down too much.
  3. Add the tomato and capsicum and cook 2 minutes, then gently push the fish into the sauce, cover and cook until the fish is done (mine took about 3 minutes). Serve over rice with spring onions scattered over the top.

A few more crabs means we poor pensioners can eat again!

Crab, lettuce, garlic aioli roll

Crab, lettuce, garlic aioli roll

Wednesday, after an amazing lunch of crab roll with garlic aioli and lettuce, and full of hope after the day before, we headed to Monkey Mia to crab once again. Our neighbour and his son took their big boat out too.

We put the boats in at 2.30 and headed back to to the boat ramp at 4.30. They caught (and threw back) 3 undersized crabs, we brought home 6 good sized ones, threw back 3 just size ones and heaps of females (tiny through to size). I reckon yesterday’s big boys knew the girls were coming!

Dinner last night was roast veggies (pumpkin and sweet potato bought back in Carnarvon and still going strong) with a couple of sausages thrown in on top, peas and gravy. It was good!

Lunch today, we were forced to have another crab sandwich. It’s a terrible, hard life we lead.

Afternoon of the giants

Just one of eleven

Just one of eleven

Sunday, we went out after lunch to Fowlers Camp to fish. It was windy and choppy for the 4 or so kilometres across the bay, but once we got beyond Eagle Bluff and into more open water it flattened right out. We caught around 40 pink snapper, with about 10 of those over 40cm but under that magic figure of 50cm. Russ eventually caught us one fish to take home. We ate him last night as crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce-one of our favourite sauces for fish and chips. When Russ cleaned him, he had two plastic lures in his gut, with no sign of them breaking down. Another smaller snapper we brought in threw up his bait then a plastic on the deck. I wonder just how good they actually are for fish if they can’t digest them?!
Crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce

Crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce

Yesterday (Monday) as the weather was basically crap we stayed in doors and the only energetic thing I did was to make fish stock.

Today after lunch, Russ reckoned we should go out to Monkey Mia and crab. We put our nets in at 2pm and pulled them out at 4pm and came home with 11 really good sized crabs. So good in fact, we let two size crabs go because they looked so tiny against our others.

When we first put the boat in, I thought we were crazy, it was windy and choppy and I knew who’d end up the coldest and wettest!. Anyhow, it settled down quite quickly and we had a pleasant couple of hours. As we drove the 27ks home, I was running all sorts of ideas through my head for our lovely catch. In the end, I decided on spaghetti with a tomato, chilli, crab sauce for dinner tonight, 2 big fat crab sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, and a couple of packets of picked meat for the freezer. We vacuum seal them and they become crab cakes, dip, pizza, bruschetta etc down the track. Much better than the little tubs or cans of crab you buy in a supermarket!

Spaghetti with Tomato, Chilli and Crab Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 chillis (heat is up to you, I used Thai Birdseye)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 440g can whole tomatoes, chopped (I hate pre chopped canned tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I’m heavy handed with both)
  • zest of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • pasta water-enough to loosen the sauce up
  • cooked spaghetti or pasta (I like really thin spag with sauces like this)
  • cooked crab meat (I had 2 big ones for the two of us)
  • Spaghetti with tomato, chilli and crab sauce

    Spaghetti with tomato, chilli and crab sauce

Method

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes or until softened. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.
  2. Add the white wine and cook until it’s reduced, then tip in the can of tomatoes and chop (I do this with kitchen scissors) Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow to cook down until the tomatoes are well softened and the mix has reduced. Add in a half cup or so of pasta water to loosen the sauce back up and give it a starchy “creaminess”.
  4. Stir through the zest,lemon juice and parsley, then toss through the cooked pasta.
  5. Finally add the cooked crab, toss lightly again and serve.
  6. Along with a final slug of olive oil, I held back a bit of parsley, zest and claw meat to garnish the dish.

Singapore Black Pepper Crab

Crabs on the platter

Crabs on the platter

Yesterday a late, quick trip over to Monkey Mia netted us (literally) 10 crabs. It was slow going initially with the first few, while over legal size, not big enough for my planned Singapore Black Pepper Crab. After two hours crabbing, with the sun starting to drop in the sky, we headed home with 6 smaller ones and those 4 precious larger crabs-my plan was saved!

Turning them upside down sends them to sleep

Turning them upside down sends them to sleep

It was beautiful out there. The water was oily making it easy to see the dolphins out hunting, and we saw a huge (bigger than I’ve ever seen) flock of cormorants fishing amongst them. A couple of sour notes though-2 days earlier, we’d seen a hire kayak left anchored out where we crab, while the paddlers went back to shore in a tinny, then returned for the kayak. It (the kayak) had been tied to something with a bottle marking the spot. It was still there yesterday so we retrieved it. A plastic bottle tied by super strong fishing line was tied to a star picket-imagine if you got all that around your propeller !! Not long after that we picked up an empty stubby floating by-take your own rubbish home!

The recipe I made tonight is from a cookbook called Spice. I reckon we had about 1.4kg crabs but I prepared all the sauce so we could make bigger messes of ourselves and have some over rice!

Singapore Black Pepper Crab

  • 3 tablespoons ketjap manis
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 kg raw blue swimmer crabs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Crabs in the wok

Crabs in the wok

Method

  1. Put ketjap manis, oyster sauce, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl, stir, then set aside.
  2. Pull back the apron of each crab, remove top shell, then intestines and feathery gills. Rinse quickly.
  3. Cut each crab into quarters and crack the legs gently (I use a meat mallet) so the flavours can enter.
  4. Heat the oil in a very large wok over high heat; add the crab pieces and stir fry in batches until the shell is bright orange and the meat almost cooked (about 5 minutes). Remove and repeat until all is cooked.
  5. Add the butter, ginger, garlic, chilli, black and white peppers and coriander to the wok; stir fry 30 seconds.
  6. Add the sauce mixture and stir; bring to the boil, then simmer 2 minutes.
  7. Return the crab to the wok and toss to coat in the sauce.
  8. Cook a further 2-3 minutes to finish cooking the crab then garnish with the spring onions and coriander leaves.
  9. Serve.
Crab on the plate

Crab on the plate

Crab almost gone

Crab almost gone

I have to say, it might seem like a huge amount of pepper, but it works really well. I reckon I could feed it to my non-pepper eating friend Janette and she’d like it!