With their beachside address still fondly remembered by locals as Jim’s Fish Café – established in 1946 – South Sailor restaurant in Thirroul puts a modern spin on classic chip-shop fare. Drawing on the abundance of fresh seafood in the region, Head Chef Graham Ette plates up a variety of oceanic dishes with global influences – from barramundi fish tacos to miso tuna poke bowls. With Australian summer in full swing, we sat down with Graeme to talk about his favourite seafood from the region, where to buy it, and some tips on how to serve it.
“Flathead is the go-to fish around here. We use Wallace Lake from New South Wales flathead, which is the premium one on the market, but you can also source it from Shellharbour. People come in every day asking us whether we have flathead, so we try to feature that on the menu a lot.”
“We’ve been using sous-vide techniques for giant octopus, then grilling it.”
“South Australian whitebait is really popular. I remember using it as bait as a kid, and now they’re charging a fortune for it! You can serve it up with a bit of chipotle and lime, or with mayo, and it goes off really well.”
“It’s such a beautiful crispy-skin fish. When cooking it, make sure the skin is dry – leave the fish in the fridge before cooking, pat off the moisture, then season it and fry it up with some knobs of butter. The secret is to make sure your pan isn’t too hot to begin with, warm but not scorching, and apply a bit of pressure while cooking. This will give you that brown, rich crispness.”
You can listen to our full interview with Graham Ette from South Sailor in Thirroul on the Quicksand Food Connection podcast, or try your hand at some of his recipes as featured in The Illawarra Cookbook.