Chef Josh Niland wowed MasterChef contestants and Australian television audiences with an appearance on the show displaying his peerless fish butchery skills.
For the past two years, Niland has been lauded for his unique and creative approach to fish butchery at his Saint Peter restaurant in Sydney, and for sharing his knowledge in his best-seller The Whole Fish Cookbook. Now MasterChef has brought the master fish butcher to a national audience with a display of skill that sees Niland turn a Murray cod fish into a roasted, rolled Murray cod main course.
Firstly, Niland dazzles with some expert knife skills, something we’ve seen before as we watch him break down an entire fish with an exceptional understanding of the creature’s anatomy. On MasterChef, Niland butterflies the Murray cod and uses the fish offal to make a merguez sausage, adding seasoning.
The lot is then rolled with nori seaweed, trussed and then baked in the oven. Niland recommends a high temperature, interestingly referring to the crispy skin as a ‘crackling’. The main is finished with a sauce made from all the bones.
Niland is as busy on social media as he is in the kitchen, and he’s always more than willing to share his information and tips. Here’s a video of some top-line ideas and things to know for those looking to adopt his ‘whole fish’ approach. “Fifty percent of the fish that we interact with is the fillet,” he says. “What’s happening to the other fifty percent? We need to get a ‘whole’ mindset and get some diversity on our plates.”
None, or as little as possible, of the fish is discarded with Niland’s approach, and he turns offal like liver into something delicious. He’s even known to turn fish scales into a dessert, as you can see in the below Lamingtons with no coconut - replaced with crystallised Murray cod scales, filled with Queen Garnet plum jam and soured cream.
If you’re wondering how Niland transforms fish scales into a delicious dessert, have a look at the below video where he tells us all we need to know about descaling fish. His tip for making sugared fish scales for his dessert are towards the end.