Without the expansion of the upstairs BBQ outdoor cooking area at the Sydney Cooking School at Neutral Bay, yours truly would not have been able to enjoy a BBQ Seafood Spectacular experience. Despite the influx of new knowledge in a three-hour period, Paul is one fantastic teacher, who has only just started teaching others how to cook quality seafood on the BBQ; as well as teaching other cooking classes held at the Sydney Cooking School. You're in really great hands, and speaking of which, Paul was extremely fast with his hands, and when it came to chopping up some of the ingredients that complimented many of the fish dishes cooked on the BBQ with finesse. Then again, Paul has been a professional chef for over 24 years, and has worked at some of the top restaurants in London, Singapore and Sydney.
Really hands on, and Paul was a friendly, professional teacher.
This was one heavenly seafood cooking experience on the trendy BBQ. We used a brand new BBQ from the Fisher & Paykel range. Our group of six participants learnt some clever tips and tricks to cooking quality seafood, from scallops, prawns, mussels and calamari to name a few. You can be any level of home cook or otherwise, and still enjoy this experience. A few lucky participants managed to take some delicious salmon with miso dressing, and some snapper home afterwards.
Tucking into some yummy oysters so quickly was just divine
It was great to enjoy and eat every single fish dish after having a go at some food preparation, and then watching the fish being cooked on the BBQ as per Paul's advice, as opposed to eating everything at once at the end. There was an abundance of fish. A nine-course seafood BBQ degustation indeed, with a choice of either a glass of white wine, or a bottle of beer to drink, together with some ample iced water. The latter was handy as it was a pretty hot day, and the ceiling fans were on full throttle.
There is a part of the scallop that needs to be removed, prior to putting on the BBQ.
For starters, the oyster experience was delightful. There was no cooking involved to begin with, however it was great to see Paul show us how to make some spicy tamarind sauce with some fish roe. This really gave the oysters a boost of flavour.
Next, Paul showed us how to cook some beautiful scallops (in their shell) on the BBQ. There is a certain area that needs to be peeled off, and in this newly created cooking class at the Sydney Cooking School, you'll discover this little seafood BBQ gem. Butter, vinegar and eschalots were added, and all of us had fun preparing these, and hence putting our own scallops on the BBQ.
It's starting to get hot in here, and that was pleasant.
The heat was then turned up in the kitchen, where some tapas with a twist was a prominent mainstay to this fantastic class. Some tips of the trade to the likes of fine dining establishments were discovered. The 'pineapple cut' in the calamari makes all the difference. We also learnt the difference between the calamari and the cuttle fish. Rice bran oil, chorizo, and coriander made it to this sizzling seafood surprise. Really spicy, flavoursome and rather delicious.
After the tapas treat, we learnt how to place prawns on the skewers correctly, prior to placing them on the BBQ, so to not flip out. I was in charge of crushing the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, while other members of our group chopped up some chilli, lemon and garlic pieces to name. Paul brought in some simple flavours by combining some oyster sauce with sugar, to give this seafood sensation the caramelisation effect. Fish sauce came in, together with some butter to emulsify this dish. This dish was really divine, with some super strong sauce. A zest of lime was refreshingly great.
Furthermore, I learnt how to carefully cut some scampi, just like cutting through a lobster. Lemon, onions, peppers and chillies ensured that this light fish treat was simple, yet flavoursome. Had heaps of fun putting this on the BBQ. Wasn't expecting to enjoy such quality seafood. Already, this class has exceeded my expectations, and Paul's friendly, professional demeanour is five stars impressive.
It was also awesome to learn how to handle mussels, and to ensure that they were washed before placing them into the tagine, together with a tomato base and some beautiful, freshly picked herbs from the garden. Paul mentions that adding any salt is unnecessary, especially as this particular fish is rather salty by nature. Loved those tips.
Speaking of tips, when cooking some salmon on the BBQ, Paul showed us exactly how to use the aluminium foil, in tandem with other sources, to avoid the fish sticking to the BBQ. Cleaning the BBQ would be painful afterwards, albeit smoky during the process. This fish only needs to be cooked for around 10 minutes on high heat. It is fascinating how easy it really is (now) to cook seafood on the BBQ. It does not take long. Paul also showed us how easy it is to make a miso marinade, of which was surprisingly great.
Wow, curry and barramundi go surprisingly well together.
Curry magic reigned supreme in the barramundi. Who would have thought that a Thai Green Curry flavour would blend in so elegantly with fish, with ingredients such as kipfler potatoes, coconut milk and cumin seeds to name coming into the mix.
The snapper was all about saving the best till last, well for some of us anyway. The fear of cooking an entire fish on the BBQ was finally overcome, and other participants testified to such paradigm shifts, all thanks to Paul's professionalism and wonderful culinary skills. You will discover what you need to do, to ensure the fish does not become bitter. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed tucking into the 1.2 kilo snapper to end a wonderful three-hour culinary experience, of which went slightly over, as a few of us wanted to hang around a little longer, and stayed with Paul to chat. Knowing how to cut the fish, and knowing what to fill in, and include in a full fish was also covered. Hot tip: there is absolutely no need to cut off the tail when preparing to cook this particular type of fish on the BBQ. I also loved the fact that we got to make a mess, and we did not need to clean up after ourselves.
Have become a slightly better cook on the back of this great class
Recipes to take home are also provided. It was fun to also be involved in this cooking experience, as opposed to just eating and watching passively. Highly recommend this course under Paul's instruction to anyone passionate about cooking, and cooking with high quality seafood in particular, and especially if you really want to have some fun. Caters to both beginners and BBQ masters. Just love the new outdoor BBQ cooking area. Thank you ever so much.
Thank you very much for the great new cooking skills acquired, and for the lovely nine-course degustation.