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Bob Hart’s barbecued seafood and Asian salmon burger

Article image for Bob Hart’s barbecued seafood and Asian salmon burger

Seafood on the barbecue

Start with Hervey Bay scallops on the half shell and move on to salmon burgers. The good life…

These sustainable Queensland scallops from Hervey Bay – obtainable from Ocean Made Seafood in Robert Street, Collingwood or from top seafood outlets in our main markets – were purpose-built for the barbecue with their thin and attractive shells which allow sufficient heat to penetrate to cook them to perfection in a matter of minutes ? not more than two, actually.

No preparation is required as these farmed scallops are sold – usually in trays of a dozen – cleaned and ready to cook. But a sauce is essential..,

  • For this, for half a dozen scallops, melt around 75g of unsalted butter to which you have added the pulp and juice of about 4cm of fresh ginger, peeled and pushed through a garlic press. Also, add about 1tbs of Kikkoman sweet soy – widely available these days but, if you are unable to find it, simply stir a little honey into warmed, regular soy sauce. Heat the sauce ingredients, stirring, until they amalgamate into a fragrant sauce. Spoon a little of this over each scallop – enough to cover the scallop and just surround it in the shell.
  • To cook the scallops, place them on a seafood rack* or a Weber trivet and place on a very hot grill. Drop the lid, naturally. They will cook in a matter of minutes: let them cook only until the sauce darkens at its outer perimeter. Lift them off the grill. Eat.

*The seafood racks I use are American, but readily available through Amazon. They carry the Steven Raichlen brand, and are reasonably priced. They work equally well for oysters for which an ideal grill sauce is made by sweating some finely-chopped shallot in unsalted butter and, when it has softened slightly, adding some srichacha sauce or minced chilli and a squeeze of lime. Cook a bit longer and spoon this sauce into the oysters on the half-shell and, again, cook for just a matter of minutes.

And while we’re thinking seafood, and dishes with an Asian leaning, it’s hard to go past my Asian salmon burger for something very, very special. Try this:

  • Skin, pin-bone and quickly pulse about 500-600g of fresh salmon, ideally New Zealand Regal salmon which has a far higher oil content than Tassie salmon, which also works, of course. Place it in a food processor and pulse it once or twice to coarsely chop it, being careful not to over-do this process and turn it into mush. Tip it into a bowl and add 1tbs minced, fresh ginger with any juices, 1tbs minced garlic and two spring onions, white and most of the green parts, finely chopped, 2tbs chopped coriander leaves, 1tsp sea salt, 1 tbs fresh lemon juice and 2tbs soy sauce. Combine well and then thicken with 3/4 cup of Panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs, ensure everything is well combined and divide into four patties, each about 3cm thick.
  • Refrigerate for about half an hour to set well. Lightly oil them with EV olive oil and cook for about 3 minutes a side, turning through 90 degrees on each side after half the cooking time. This needs care as the patties can be fragile, but practice makes perfect and if the mixture feels as though it needs more breadcrumbs, simply add them.
  • Now, split four brioche buns (Dench Bakeries make very good ones). Lightly toast these and spread with Best Foods mayo laced with either wasabi paste or fresh, chopped dill and a squeeze of lemon. Place a lettuce leaf on the base of each bun, top with a patty and dress, if you like, with some extra sliced dill pickles.