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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sydney Fish Market

12 dried red chili pods
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp. cumin
3 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes
Fresh cilantro
Using gloves, wash the chili pods and remove all the seeds and the "veins" or fibers that hold the seeds. Put into a saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into a blender and whirl until well blended. While the chilis are simmering, you can heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Simmer the onion and garlic until onion is transparent, then add seasonings and cook another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree for a smooth sauce. Transfer back to the saucepan simmer over low to keep sauce warm while you prepare the rellenos.
For rellenos:
4 green chilis, preferably New Mexican Sandia, or Poblanos
Monterey Jack, cut in sticks 1/2"x1/2"x 1" less than the length of the chili
1 eggs
1 cup or more panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
4 Tbsp. oil
Roast the chilis on the grill or under the broiler, turning as they blacken so the whole skin is puffed up and charred. Run under cool water and peel off the skin. Carefully make a slit in the side of each chili and with a sharp knife, cut the top of the fibers that hold the seeds. Carefully remove all the seeds and dry the chilis on paper towels.
Stuff each chili with a stick of cheese. Whisk the eggs until blended. Put the panko in a shallow bowl. Heat the oil in a frying pan, roll each chili in the egg, then in the panko to coat each one and place them in the oil. Fry over medium heat until browned on one side then flip to the other and cook until browned. Serve with the warm sauce and a glass of the 2004 Chateau Julien Syrah.

For a panoramic view of Sydney from atop the Sydney Bridge from BridgeClimb:

We were out on the street at the crack of dawn yesterday looking for a taxi to take us to our 6:55 am Sydney Fish Market tour. We found a genial driver who had 15 minutes before his next pickup who agreed to take us. That sounded great, except he didn't really have time to squeeze in the trip, so he drove like a maniac, lurching and swerving through traffic, cursing at the other drivers as we flopped around in the back seat like fish out of water. "Get out of the way, you bloody donkey", he yelled, "What? Are you driving to the sanitarium?".  It was half funny, half terrifying! Anyway, it was worth the hair-raising trip to get the backstage look at the second largest fish market in the world. A bit of perspective, though: in one day of the world's largest fish market (Tsukiji in Tokyo), more fish is auctioned than in two weeks in Sydney. Still, a thousand crates of seafood is sold per hour--crates of barramundi, tuna, dory, crabs, yabbies and more. The auctioning is in the Dutch style (which they have been using for generations in the tulip market). Seafood is brought in, assessed by the Market experts who set a price for each lot. Instead of lots starting low and being bid up, each lot starts at $3 per kilo over the assessed price and comes down, with the price displayed on a large screen with a circular "clock" counting downwards. As the price comes down, the buyers jump in at the price they want to buy. The next lot of the same seafood starts at $1 above the price the preceding lot. If the buyer waits too long, the seafood will sell out; if the buyer jumps in too early, they pay a higher price. We got to go down on the floor where the "whalers" move crates in to be inspected and out to the waiting trucks of the buyers. We saw "by-catch" fish like leather jackets which used to be thrown out by fishermen and are now salable food fish. In the old day, fishermen just took from the sea what they wanted and tossed out the rest. But, overfishing and overpopulation has meant the ocean systems are stressed and many fish are on the verge of extinction. More species are being utilized instead of being wasted. Also, Australia has taken a strong lead in the sustainability issue by instituting guidelines for the harvesting of its seafood. The use of 'by-catch' is one of the ways they control waste--by-catch used to be tossed out, now all seafood netted or caught on lines must be landed on the boat and used for human or pet food. Quotas are set for each species and fishermen have to buy a license for their portion of each type of harvest. Safeguards have been put in place, for example, eastern rock lobster females cannot be harvested when they have eggs; in Queensland, they cannot be harvested at all.  Also, each and every crate of seafood is inspected by Fish Market experts and graded. In the US, sadly, our seafood is inspected and graded in a very random, sporadic fashion, plus much of our seafood is from China where the quality control is questionable. Read this chilling USDA report: "Imports From China and Food Safety Issues". The premiere quality of seafood in Australia is striking--even fast food venues serve top quality fish. I had a "take away" plate from what looked like a fast food place at the Circular Quay called aptly, Quay Seafood, of barramundi with french fries. It was one of the best pieces of fish I've ever had, so fresh, just lightly dusted with flour and grilled perfectly. It was pricey, as everything in Sydney seems to be--$20, but it could have fed two people easily.

We marveled at the big tuna in the sashimi area--only line-caught, immediately chilled tuna can be sold as sashimi (or sushi) grade. The reason is that net-caught fish often sit on the deck of the boat for 3 hours or more as they are graded and sorted before going into the hold. Bacteria start to grow quickly in fish, so the fish is not as fresh as line-caught which can come off the hook and onto ice in less than a minute. Bluefin tuna, which may be put on the endangered species list due to overfishing, is the favored raw fish of the Japanese. It is so in demand, and now so rare, that a single bluefin can fetch upwards of $170,000. Bluefin fishermen usually have a helicopter ready to transport the fish immediately to the nearest airport where it is shipped on ice to the Tokyo Fish Market, where it arrives within 24 hours of being hauled in. Fortunately, there was sustainably harvested seafood available in the Markets' retail area and we had a seafood feast for breakfast.


  1. SUSTAINABLE fisheries is a feel good myth. In regards to habitat: witness 1) global ocean acidification 2) global mercury contamination 3) oceanic dead zones (oxygen depleted) throughout the world. Beyond habitat issues we have this to contend with the gulf blowout: Industry officials estimate that 60 to 70 percent of the oysters and 57 percent of the shrimp eaten in the U.S. come from the Gulf. As fisheries deplete pressure will be placed upon other stocks exerting enormance pressure along with rising pressure. regardless of sustainable we are living in an increasingly toxic world. Corexit 9500 is going to destroy the Gulf of Mexico and impact the Atlantic Ocean, and if once care scenario plays out it will impact every large salt water body throughout the world. The plans that governments have put in place for sustainability does not take into consideration the health of the ocean (habitat). As we should be so obviously aware of today the ocean is not getting cleaner, but is becoming increasing toxic without ability to heal. As fish farming increase the next very valid question will be: is it organic? No easy answers but the sad conclusion that sustainable fisheries is a feel good myth.

  2. I understand what you mean, there isn't true sustainability when the human population is greater than the earth can sustain. But, given that the balance is off, having a sustainability program is the first step in slowing the effect that we have on the oceans, don't you agree?