Among the most daring recipes is the custard cake with caramel and sardine garum. But Josh Niland’s new book, From head to boneit wants to be, above all, an instrument of awareness on how you can really use every part of the fish, “from the head to the bone”, by reducing waste.
The Australian chef who, at 33, is revolutionizing seafood cuisine around the world, he developed a passion and a profession for a game of fate: “My father was not a fisherman, I never liked fishing and, as a child, I did not eat a lot of fish. But at 15 I started studying cooking and four years later found myself working at Steve Hodge (the Fish Face). I consider him my teacher: he taught me everything he knew and generated in me this curious and inquisitive feeling which joined my reflection on the fact that almost half of a fish worked in a restaurant was wasted. I’m talking about the entrails, the eyes, the head, etc. “.
It is with the opening of his restaurant Saint Pierre (in Paddington, Sidney) that for Niland comes the turning point: “At the beginning we were only three cooks and a huge workload to manage. I hired more staff but with the arrival of winter the collection was no longer sufficient. I didn’t want to shoot and started to think about a solution, focusing on the recovery of fish waste: the stomach and entrails of the fish, the eyes, the blood, etc. The real challenge was to make them desirable to people’s eyes and palates. We have tried and succeeded in capturing the attention of the media, including the New York Times”.
Niland always speaks in the plural, a sign of a team game that still works: “We started developing techniques and methodologies on how to reuse waste and be able to process your meat in an innovative way. In 2018, we opened The Fish Butchery, the first sustainable “fish shop”. And in 2019 The Whole Fish Cookbook (The Big Book of FishGiunti): this is the volume that consecrated Niland and his techniques to worldwide success.
With De la tête à l’os, another guaranteed success: techniques and recipes, even extreme ones, and one is even inspired by Nice and Genoese., the pissaladière (where he uses fresh sardines). And don’t miss the San Pietro fish tripe.
Fish sausage and cuttlefish bacon: the sea goes to the “butcher”
by Roselina Salemi
“I wrote these books to ignite the desire to reclaim what is thrown away today, learn to work with it, eat it, and enjoy it.. It is explained how fish can be worked on the model of meat, by maturing and seasoning, prolonging – and by a lot – its duration. We talk a lot about “sustainable fish”, but what fish can be sustainable if half is thrown away? On this front, even the industry will have to do its part and consider the gastronomic use of waste as an added and valuable value. The beacon to follow is that of sustainable consumption”.
Niland’s techniques are universal, i.e. applicable to both saltwater and freshwater fish. Processes that require some precautions. The first is “not to wash the fish, and to avoid any direct contact with the ice, to avoid the development of bacteria. This principle already applies on a large scale, so it would be very easy to be able to make the entire fish whatever you want. A broken barrier? That of the “mortadella”, which “has a flavor very close to the traditional”. And ice cream, where the eyes of the fish are among the ingredients “and contain the same protein as the egg”.
In the meantime, the chef is already turning to the next book: “It will be technical, intended above all for professionals. And there is already the title: it will be called Fish Butchery”.