Cooking Seafood And Summer Entertaining

January 6, 2011

Cooking Seafood And Summer Entertaining

Nothing screams summer more than seafood, so for my fiance’s recent birthday I took him to Manta Restaurant at Sydney’s Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo. It’s the perfect Sydney setting: sitting outside by the boats with that gorgeous cityscape in the background (while also keeping a lookout for Russell Crowe and other celebs who call the Finger Wharf home).

The food was incredible: to start with we loved the crispy calamari with lemon zest and aoili, and spaghetti with seared tuna in a luscious tomato sauce. My main of Hiramasa kingfish with a kaleidoscope of tomatoes, zucchini flowers and micro herbs looked like an artist’s palette, bursting with summer colours, while my fiance barely wanted to share his seared Tasmanian salmon with me, sitting on top of sauteed peas and bacon. We couldn’t resist the side of white asparagus with hazelnut butter either, and polished off a celebratory bottle of prosecco a little too easily.

Relaxing in the sunshine I thought Manta is the perfect place to take visitors, and with my sister’s wedding anniversary coming up I’ve found the ideal restaurant for them to celebrate. I highly recommend it for the quintessential Sydney seafood dining experience.

Head chef Daniel Hughes and sommelier Lyndon Stenning shared some of their tips on cooking with fish and summer entertaining…

1. What’s your favourite dish on the menu this summer?

Daniel: Lemon and pepper seared yellow fin tuna, lime and avocado mousse, gazpacho jelly and baby herbs is fresh and light, perfect for summer dining.

?2. What ingredients do you love to cook with in summer?

Daniel: Asparagus is in season and we’re using both white and green varieties on our menu right now. Also summer berries and stone fruits are perfect at this time of year. We’re also taking advantage of the beautiful heirloom tomatoes right now.

?3. Can you share your best tip for cooking seafood?

Daniel: Buy the freshest possible produce, don’t over complicate the process, simply grilling or roasting fresh seafood is the perfect way to enjoy its natural flavours. It’s important not to overcook seafood as it becomes dry and tough.

?4. What’s an easy but impressive seafood dish that home cooks can serve this summer?

Daniel: We’re using grilled whole scampi at Manta right now with a herb and macadamia nut crust that’s impressive both in look and taste, perfect and simple for summer cooking at home. Simply halve the scampi, grill flesh side down, flip on the shell, add the macadamia and herb crust, then bake for 3 minutes.

?5. What’s on the menu at your place this summer?

Daniel: Lots of fresh seafood, oysters, whole cooked prawns and BBQ grilled fish.?

?6. What are your favourite wines for entertaining this summer?

Lyndon: Riesling and Champagne are perfect for summer entertaining because of their diversity of flavour, structure and texture.

?7. We tend to get stuck in a sauvignon blanc rut over summer. Are there any different wine varieties we should look out for?

Lyndon: Albarino and Pinot Gris are excellent sauvignon blanc substitutes, they’re fresh and vibrant and are worth stepping outside the sauvignon comfort zone for.

?8. Which sparkling wines and Champagnes do you recommend for Christmas?

Lyndon: Arras from Tasmania is an excellent example of a quality Australian sparkling, and my personal favourite Champagne is non vintage Billecart for its attention to detail and individuality.

?9. What’s your favourite summer cocktail?

Lyndon: I’m a classic martini man, Grey Goose vodka and an olive. Or two.


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