Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • The time-honoured art of catching and cooking our seafood dates was inspired by Indigenous Australians
  • Focusing on showcasing Australian produce, Neil Perry introduced Asian style flavour profiles to our dishes
  • Traditionally heavy seafood sauces, were replaced by lighter, and more vibrant broths
  • Neil Perry’s cuisine reinforced in both in a geographical and culinary context the idea that Australia should embrace its proximity to Asia

By Dane Richards

Australia has long been renowned as a Nation that has passionately declared its love of seafood. The time-honoured recreational art of catching and cooking our seafood dates all the way back to Indigenous times, when it was a crucial necessity of existence. However, the level of refinement and the ability to harmonise a seafood dish in a uniquely Aussie way, was taken to a new level by Chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda, and Neil Perry.

They drew on a vast array of techniques learnt over time, to interpret a distinctive style of our own, by consciously choosing the stunning produce they had at their disposal as the fundamental inspiration for dishes, creating stunning dishes which would stand the test of time.

Neil Perry’s stir fried spanner crab omelette was one such memorable dish. The simple technique of an omelette, showcasing the stunning local crab was an inspired choice. It emphasised the Chef’s philosophy that the seafood was the sole premise for the dish, not the other way around. It incorporated Asian flavour profiles, and would only be tweaked over the years, although the closest its origins can be traced back, is to a menu at Rockpool in 1996. In all likelihood, it debuted much earlier, but nonetheless it justifiably remained a signature dish for many years, and fittingly was recently served at the restaurant’s final service.

The significance was that it marked a discernible change in direction. The previously one dimensional white sauces and redundant garnish were suddenly replaced by vibrant dishes with proper acidity and balance, which stimulated the palate, by enhancing the core flavour, and texture profile of the fish. The traditional European influences were abandoned, embracing our sense of place in Asia. Visiting Chefs suddenly started noticing that we were developing a bold voice of our own, and departed envious of the possibilities afforded by that newfound freedom. It boldly marked a new chapter in our culinary development…

Next Dish: Lorraine Godsmark’s Date Tart