Recently, I decided to blow a few cobwebs off my Harley and took a trundle up to the Sunshine Coast. I intended to stop at a major tourist attraction for lunch but, as usual, I took a wrong turn somewhere. However, as it turned out, this wrong turn ended up being the best mistake I've ever made. As a result, I came across Ocean to Earth Seafood at the Yandina Community Centre Garage 2, 51 Farrell Street, Yandina.
It turned out, I had just come across the friendliest, freshest and most fish-a-lious seafood stand I've ever found.
I was very fortunate because you have to be there at just the right time. Only opening on Thursdays between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Fridays between 9.00am and 6.00pm and Saturdays between 8.00am and 2.00pm, Merv, the proprietor, needs the rest of his time for catching his own fish and, otherwise, enjoying the costal lifestyle. Before you go check he's not out on his boat by calling him on 0413 595 937 or email him on email@example.com
When driving down Farrell Street, Yandina you will see some roadside signs for fresh seafood at the Community Centre's driveway. Turn in and look hard because this piece of seafood lover's nirvana is tucked away up against the garage. It is also best to make sure you have a little time to spare. Merv works the business alone which means that, while you are getting the best service going, you are also going to have a nice conversation with my favourite Fish-o who I now refer to as, 'Have-a-Chat-Merv'.
I ordered up a serving of large Mooloolaba king prawns for lunch and, after a long chat, headed off to find a nice spot to eat them.
No need to 'go the raw prawn' here, these are delicious.
If you have read my other articles you know I don't do 'Best of's' because I don't know everything else on offer, but I'll always tell you if I like something and think it's worth you trying. Let me tell you, I really liked those prawns and, if you're a seafood person, so will you. I just had to go back and get some more as well as something to take home for dinner.
During another interesting chat with Merv, I made my selections from the fresh cooked and green prawns, oysters, frozen and fresh fish fillets, scallops, Moreton Bay Bugs and squid tubes on offer. One of the really interesting features of Ocean to Earth Seafood is how the array and amount of stock all fits into the stand.
Fresh fish or shell fish? Fresh or shell? Fresh or ... Aw, just give me the lot!
Large Mooloolaba king prawns were just $30 a kilogram (and I can say they are really worth it) salmon portions from Tasmanian and Norway were $35 a kilo, fresh fish fillets ranged from $32 to $38 a kilo. For the more exotic meals you could get frozen Hervey Bay scallops for only $13.50 per 250 grams and two packets of squid tubes for $19 a kilo.
All of Merv's prawns are supplied by Queensland Seafood Specialists at Kawana where they are unloaded directly from the trawlers. Usually the prawns have been frozen but are slow thawed in a brine to maintain quality and flavour – as Merv told me, never let fresh water near your prawns or you'll wash out all the flavour.
His fish is delivered fresh every Thursday by PFD, 169 Nicklin Road, Palmwoods and Merv usually has three varieties on sale. There's always Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon portions and, when I was there, some lovely looking red snapper and mixed reef fillets took up the slack.
Another thing I learned while I was there is at this time of year oysters, reef fish, tailor and deep sea mullet make the best eating.
Even though he sells fish for a living, Merv just can't get enough of them. He told me how he loves fishing for large whiting by using blood worms, live prawns and yabbies for bait. He uses a very light line from the top of the outgoing tide when the current is not moving fast and at the end when the run out tide slows down again. It's then you can often catch a nice fish for dinner. If that doesn't appeal to you, then just go down to Yandina and get some fresh fish from Merv – the results are the same and it's probably a lot quicker.
Merv asked what I did with my prawn shells and I assured him I had disposed of them responsibly. Evidently, I should put those prawn shells and heads into a pot of water and boil them, let them cool down and then pour the stock around the base of my paw paw trees. This will improve the health of the trees and increase the yield, quality and flavour of the fruit. I didn't have the heart to tell Merv I don't have any paw paw trees.
That night, for dinner, my darling wife and I indulged in some crispy skinned salmon. I placed the salmon I bought off Merv, skin side up, on a plate and drizzled it with some olive oil. After that I had rubbed some salt into the skin and took out my trusty skillet. I fried the fillet over a medium heat and accompanied it with some beer-battered chips and, as I am still on my diet, a bit of green salad. The salmon was another stunning success for Merv.
As I said above, this was the best 'wrong turn' I have ever taken. If you like seafood and enjoy meeting really nice people then give yourself a 'win-win' at Ocean to Earth Seafood, Yandina Community Centre Garage 2, 51 Farrell Street, Yandina. To make sure you know what's on offer, give Merv a call on 0413 595 937 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org beforehand or, do as I did, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.