Supernormal’s blue eye, congee, coastal herbs

Andrew McConnell and Perry Schagen are shaking up the Supernormal menu this winter, taking Chinese comfort food, congee, and mixing it up with Australia’s seasonal produce.

May through to August sees a a vast array of sustainable seafood at the restaurant, making use of species that are fresh, light and full of flavour.

To ensure the quality of the produce, all fish used at Supernormal are hand-caught, using ethical fishing processes established by fishmonger Mark Eather that leaves zero footprint  on the marine environment.

This is the first time that congee has made an appearance on the menu at Supernormal. McConnell and Schagen wanted a ‘winter warmer’ for the season, criteria the Chinese breakfast staple fits perfectly.

Blue Eye is a firm fish that holds up well to the robust flavour of the congee, which is cooked in a fish stock. An egg yolk is mixed through the congee at the end of the cooking stages to achieve a glossy, luxurious finish.

Serves 4

4 x 90g blue eye or grouper fillets, skin on
1 egg yolk
20g bonito flakes
1 sheet laver (seaweed), toasted
1 punnet mermaid mix (oyster leaves, sea spray, karkalla – available at major markets or online)

Fish stock:
10g dried shiitake mushrooms
40g ginger
20g garlic
20g shallot
10g kombu
A good pinch of bonito flakes
20g coriander roots
2 L water
100g glutinous rice
5 ml sesame oil
20 ml fish sauce

Spring onion oil
20g spring onion, green part only
40ml blend oil

The day before you plan on serving this dish, combine shiitake mushrooms, 20g ginger, 10g garlic, shallot, kombu, fish sauce and water in a large pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes and then remove from the heat. Add bonito and leave for 5 minutes then strain the stock through a fine sieve. Set aside.

For the spring onion oil, heat the oil in a saucepan until it reaches 75°C. Place the oil and onions in an upright blender and blitz on high for 1 minute and then pass through a cloth and sieve. Place in the freezer in a bowl and allow to settle. After 2 hours, pour off the oil on top and set aside.

For the congee, slice the remaining ginger and garlic. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the rice with sesame oil until aromatic. Add ginger, garlic and stock to cover. Cook on a very low heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until glutinous, topping up with a little more stock, or water if it looks dry. It should look like a porridge consistency. Season with the fish sauce to taste.

To serve, steam the fish in a steamer for 5 – 6 minutes or until cooked through.
While the congee is still warm, briskly fold inegg yolk to add gloss and spoon onto a plate.
Lay the cooked fish over the congee. Garnish with 3-4 of each picked coastal herb (mermaid mix), bonito flakes, 1 tablespoon of spring onion oil and crushed laver.

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