Taking on Tempura at Sydney Seafood School

12 December 2012

Fish at Sydney Seafood SchoolSelling over 100 different seafood varieties every day, Sydney is home to the second most diverse fish market in the world – coming in after Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market. The Sydney Fish Markets are located in Pyrmont around the corner from Darling Harbour and a popular lunch or shopping destination for both Sydney visitors and locals. With so much fresh seafood to choose from, we want to make sure we know how to cook our seafood bounty correctly. Enter: Sydney Seafood School, one of Australia’s premier cooking centres, located above the market’s auction floor and consumer markets.

Sydney Fish Markets - SchoolWith a class schedule full of presentations by celebrity chefs, smaller dinner party style courses, and even seafood basics courses for those wanting to get comfortable with preparing fish, the school has a class for every foodie taste and cuisine. Tonight, we’re taking an after work course on the Japanese art of tempura and teppanyaki—starring prawns, squid, salmon, scallops, ling, pippies, and even a few fresh veggies.

The course begins in a demonstration kitchen with tiered seating and screens to enable easy viewing of the preparation and stoves.  Here, Chef Brigid takes guests through the evening’s dishes. Her presentation covers everything from properly removing the membrane to de-rubberise calamari to peeling a prawn in one step and beating the perfect tempura batter (never let it sit).  According to Chef Brigid, Japanese food is traditionally very light and delicate, so tempura gets its flavours from the dipping sauces that go with, not the heavy sauces and curries like other cuisines.

Cooking Class, Sydney Seafood School

As Chef Brigid heats the frying oil, she reminds students that deep-frying fish can actually be healthier than cooking fillets in a small amount of oil. Dunking the fish in the hot liquid, quickly cooks the outside of the fish, enabling the meat to essentially steam on the inside and not absorb as much oil. “That’s why you might see people at the beach order fish and chips and remove the shell,” Brigid informs us.

After the aroma of the cooking demonstration reminds everyone that it’s dinner time, we divide into groups and assemble at the sleek cooking stations in the next room for the hands-on session. Overlooking the auction room floor, the kitchens make the guests feel like they are head chefs of their own three-hatted restaurant with electric woks, teppanyaki grills, professional grade knives, and fridge drawers stocked with fresh seafood and a few bottles of refreshing mineral water.

Rotating through the provided recipes and running order while Chef Brigid and her assistant guide, everyone has a chance to try their hand at frying lightly battered prawns, steaming pippies and creating the perfect fried rice taught in the earlier demonstrations.

Sydney Seafood School

Soon it’s time for a glass of wine and for a communal meal to taste the jointly created dinner. Heading into the dining room, a chilled bottle of Riesling is waiting on every table as the fried rice and freshly prepared seafood are shared around. “The Sydney Seafood School really de-mystifies cooking seafood,” says student Erika. Alongside her friend Vanessa,this tempura and teppanyaki course is the fifth time she’s attended the school. Vanessa likes that the Seafood School’s courses are practical and simple saying “It really is achievable for the everyday person.”

Sydney Seafood School courses run frequently throughout the week. Whether BBQ, Tapas or Mediterranean, find a class that suits your taste

Added bonus: you don’t even have to do the dishes.