As January is our summer holiday period in Australia, the markets don't reopen until after the middle of the month, and often some of the stallholders don't come back until February. So these are just some images of people who braved the potential lack of customers and came to show their wares at Everleigh, North Sydney and Orange Grove markets. We managed to talk to a few newcomers, including Olsson's Sea Salt, our local "Guérande" and a great paella maker, no less!
OlSson's SEA SALT
The Olsson's family is the the only and longest established sea salt harvester and producer in Australia. They produce a range of salts from the less refined, Guérande like table sea salt sold in very traditional packaging, to a more refined and industrially produced sea flakes, a process which mimics the natural evaporation process traditionally occurring in "marais salants" but more suitable to mass production. The result is a very fine flake rather than the more common pyramidal crystal found in most other products. You would use the flakes for cooking where you would reserve the "gray" salt (fleur de sel) for seasoning. Beware that it is full flavoured and more salty than the salt you might be currently using.
ORANGE GROVE MARKET - Rozelle
Choucroute (sauerkraut) is a traditional alsacian/german way of conserving cabbage. It is traditionally served with pork belly, sausages and charcuterie.
Over the last 20 or 30 years, a new trend has emerged to replace the meat with seafood.
More recently, I had the chance to taste or make various implementations of this "choucroute de la mer" - literally "seafood sauerkraut".
And as people do "vertical tastings" of the same wine from different vintages, I propose we go on a "horizontal tasting" of these various avatars of one of my favourites dishes.
So, to go from the most amateurish to the most professional, I will start with my own implementation:
Sauerkraut (from a tin) - try Andre Laurent if you can find it.
Note: the photo above comes from their website
White fish, like turbot or snapper
Mussels, Scallops and Prawns
see photo underneath and recipe here - keeping it simple!
The second recipe comes from a restaurant in the island of Noirmoutier, where my sister took me, and where we used to go when we were kids (the island, not the restaurant...). I will have to find out their name later...
Again, choucroute, mash, mussels, white fish and small scallops (called petoncles) with a nice creamy sauce.
The presentation was certainly the messier of all, but it tasted very nice - although you can't beat the taste, freshness and crunchiness of Australian prawns...
Last but not least, Maitre Karl had his own choucroute de la mer last Friday. I usually have lunch there on a Friday, and I had my camera handy, so all was going to be all right.
It started even better with Karl pouring me a glass of German Pinot Gris, not what I would have chosen myself, but I know I can trust Karl and so I went along and was rewarded with a very good drop, certainly not as sweet as one would expect and a great match with the choucroute.
And again the sauerkraut and the mash were topped with a very nicely cooked piece of salmon, and surrounded with beautiful scallops and prawns. A light creamy sauce keeps everything moist and interesting!
None of these recipes contained a combination of fresh fish AND smoked fish, which might be a mistake, as a piece of haddock gives some flavour reminiscent of the smoked meats used in the traditional choucroute.