Mar 12, 2011

Barbecuing Seafood? At the Sydney Seafood School? Then Yes We Can.

Today, Mr SSG and I confronted one of our culinary deficits and learned to barbecue seafood.  Tired of the endless carousel of must visit Sydney restaurants and 'it' dishes, we decided to celebrate our upcoming wedding anniversary a little differently this year by participating in a cooking course at the Sydney Seafood School which is in the main building of the Sydney Seafood Market in Pyrmont.

Warning: loads of photos today.  I think I'm getting my food even mojo back.  Today was so much fun, I reckon I'm going to sign up for a few more things in the coming months.

Our day started at 11am in the kitchen auditorium.  There were kitchen cameras situated all across the central work station with footage streaming through the overhead television displays so we all able to see what was going on.  Our teacher this morning was Coralie and she was fantastic.  I found her both a natural teacher and a wealth of practical information for novice cooks who just want to be able to do the basics properly.  She was very thorough in her presentation.

At the door, we were all issued with our course notes and the recipes we would be preparing (on our own!!) after the teaching session.

It was the first time I'd sat in an auditorium with Mr SSG and we reflected on how our academic futures may have been different if we'd met in university.

Mr SSG would have been able to get a second degree on the strength of my copious notes.  Or else he could have sent me to his lectures to do the ground work for him.  We didn't have much time to dwell on the could have beens or should have beens because it was game on.  The doors to the kitchen stations opened and we were to meet the rest of our team of 5 for Masterchef At the Sydney Seafood Market.

The distribution of The Damp Chux Wipes.  Placed under your chopping board, they really do prevent your board from slipping away from you as you chop.

Here's a quick tour of the cooking station.

Mr SSG manning (heh heh) the stove with the kitchen caddy at his side.

Our fridge drawer which hummed a little tune every time we opened it.

Pre washed, labelled and cut herbs.  What is not to like about cooking at the Sydney Seafood School?

The fancy oven which we thankfully did not have to use today - it was a barbecue class after all.

The team hard at work.  We split the dishes amongst us so that a few of us made each dish to completion. 

We did however, all get a chance to perfect some of the key seafood handling skills  of the course.

Learning how to devein and dehead prawns neatly.

The deboning of a garfish using a filleting knife. 

Mr SSG and I were delegated to making the BBQ prawns with a herb marinade.

Peeled garlic, pre measured dry ingredients and labelled greens.  Just like a celebrity chef!

Mr SSG skewered and marinaded the prawns after I blitzed the marinade / dipping sauce ingredients in a very snazzy double bladed food processor.

Then we grilled them.

Why, hello!

Dressed in a preppy polo shirt as you cook in a fully serviced kitchen, you too can channel your  inner Nigella.

Is that a washing up trolley I see in the background?  I love this kitchen more by the minute.  Any used plates and cutlery simply gets wheeled behind the doors to be magically washed up.  The kitchen had a major refurbishment in 2009 and the informative chalkboard style murals are part of a design by Michael McCann.  I didn't get a photo of the impressive sandstone walls that surrounded the teaching auditorium.

We plated up and had the prawns with the rest of our team at our station while we got the rest of our lunch prepped.  I think this was a great idea having something to eat (as opposed to drink) as we cooked.  There was bottled water on hand in our singing fridge but the school wisely saved the wine for the sit down lunch.

Away from our kitchen islands is a bank of barbecues.  The idea being that we'd cook half our food at the barebecues and the other dishes at the grills back at our work spaces.  It did speed things up and prevented either area from getting too busy during the class.

Time was flying by, it was already around 1pm by the time we got to the final cooking of our dishes.

I never would have thought it were possible but yes, you can cook mussels on a barbecue.  You just put them under a metal cover and have your butter sauce in a saucepan melting on the same barbecue as the mussels open up.

This was the first time I'd cooked mussels.

And because we were in a demonstration kitchen with many able assistants on the floor, they all cooked perfectly.

Even the ones that remained stubbornly shut.  If you prise them open gently with a butter knife, often they are fresh and cooked right and do not necessarily have to be thrown away.  I never knew.

To get things moving for the lunch service, one of the team was designated to set the table for the group.

Yes, there are 3 Nespressos at the back of the room!! I really did not want to leave.

Mr SSG did the honours for our table.

Hungrily, the 5 of us descended on the table with our dishes to share.

Blue Mussels with Garlic Butter.

Thai Style Squid Salad
Barbecued Garfish

Yellowtail Kingfish with Wasabi Mayonnaise and Grilled Limes.

Our souvenir aprons.

We also got gift bags after lunch.  A very handy cooler bag and some cooking ingredients.

We put the cooler bags to good use and topped up our seafood supplies before heading home.  No longer afraid of (or defeated by) prawns or squid, we bought the fresh as nature intended them versions and did the deveining and deskinning ourselves at home.

It was a very full day and great value given the amount of food we had for lunch.  Parking is free for participants in the School's cooking classes.  Anoter big bonus is being able to do a good seafood shop when you leave, armed with lots of inspiring cooking ideas.  There was also excellent fruit being sold by the fruiterer outside the main building.  His blueberries and lychees are The Business.  Consider yourselves told, Sydney siders.


  1. What a fun day! We did a crab class there and it was so much fun! hehe I was hoping to see a non blurred pic of you! ;)

  2. Lorraine: I blame Mr SSG for the blurry action shot. I look rather... ghost like? Hope you're having a blast in Melbourne.

    SSG xxx

  3. I have been itching to do this!

    Looks like it was really worthwhile and fun

    The lunch after ... drool!

  4. Oh my stars that looks like fun!

    H taught me the trick of putting a chux under the chopping board... when I don't do it he rolls his eyes. When I don't do it and I am using his special knives he doesn't let me chop anymore hahahahaaaa I guess he is right. He's actually going back to teach aspiring chef's who are doing the diploma soon. I wonder if he will make them put a chux under their board?! I'm about 1000% sure he will.

    Now I want prawwwwns!!!!!

  5. Looks like you both had a blast, what a unique way to celebrate your wedding anniversary!
    Gift bags too, wow!
    I wish something like this was on offer in Brisbane...

  6. What a lovely idea. You two always do the nicest things together! Happy Wedding Anniversary!


  7. It looks like you had a lot of fun. I live on seafood because it's all over the area where I live. I am hoping we start boiling again soon because it's getting to be crawfish season.


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