Sea of festive food

JUST in time to plan your Christmas seafood spread, a new website Good Fish Bad Fish has been launched to help consumers make environmentally sustainable choices.

The website is a collaboration between a University of Melbourne zoologist and a Melbourne chef.

It advises that Spencer Gulf and North Queensland banana prawns are a good option, but if you can source fresh local lake or river prawns then that's your best choice.

Oysters and mussels are both great sustainable and delicious choices.

For the barbecue it suggests trying something different by mixing up old favourites like snapper and salmon with whole bream or mullet, cutlets of Australian salmon or fillets of Australian whiting.

Meanwhile, if you want to save money on the most popular Christmas seafood like prawns and bugs buy now and freeze them for the big day.

That's the advice of Ballina Seafood Co-op retail manager Alister Robertson, who said some of the most popular items would rise steeply before the big day.

Medium king prawns were currently retailing at about $32 a kg but by Christmas Eve were predicted to hit $40.

Bugs were also expected to rise from the current price of $30 to $35.

"What a lot of people don't know is that the prices are set by the Sydney Fish Market," Mr Robertson said.

He said last year there had been an increase in demand for "feature fish" like large snapper to take the place of the traditional chicken or turkey in the centre of the festive table.

Craig 'Freckle' Green from The Bay Seafood Market said a shortage of mudcrabs had seen a significant price rise this year to $49 a kg.

Most fish stores across the region will trade up until late on Christmas Eve and will only close on Christmas Day.


Mussels with fennel, saffron and potato


  • 1kg Australian Blue mussels
  • 1 Cup white wine
  • 1 Cup of fish or vegetable stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 small bulb of fennel
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 handful of continental parsley
  • ½kg of potatoes (kipfler or waxy)
  • 1 clove of garlic


DEBEARD the mussels by pulling at the fibrous strands that come out of the hinge. Rinse the mussels well to remove any mud or grit.

Heat a heavy-based saucepan or pot, add the mussels and wine and cover with lid.

Shake pan on high heat for 2-3 minutes, until mussels open. Pour the mussels through a fine strainer, reserving cooking liquid.

Place saffron in a small saucepan and add the reserved mussel liquid. Bring this to a simmer. Turn off and sit to steep until needed.

Remove mussels from their shells, leaving a few whole for final presentation.

Chop the fennel, onion, carrot and celery roughly.

Heat the cleaned saucepan and add olive oil.

Sautee the fennel, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley stem until soft.

Add the potatoes and mussel saffron liquid.

Add fish stock to just cover potato.

Simmer with a lid on until the potato is cooked (approx. 10-15 minutes, check with a knife).

Add reserved mussels back to pan and heat through briefly.

Do not overcook or they will become tough and rubbery.

Check seasoning - add any salt or freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Serve with chopped parsley and fresh crusty bread.


Please remember that it is a MYTH that an unopened mussel should be discarded - prise open the shell to get at the meat, if it's bad your nose will tell you.


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