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The gourmet farmer goes fishing

Former chef and restaurant critic, Matthew Evans, took a Tassie-change some years ago, swapping filing stories for farming, and to all accounts loving it. His knowledge of, and passion for food went with him of course, and helped to underpin his new ventures on the land.

Now it seems the sea has also lured him, and where better than in the chilly waters surrounding Tasmania. His interest in seafood is longstanding, and his recent SBS TV show What's the Catch? has been important in a successful campaign for seafood integrity.

Another TV series of his, Gourmet Farmer Afloat earlier this year, featured Evans and his co-authors and seafood experts Nick Haddow and Ross O'Meara. These three men in a boat  (or many boats) circumnavigated the island-state, checking on the quality and quantity of the seafood available, and of course cooking and eating it as they went.

It made for fascinating viewing, and now of course, the book allows us all to try for ourselves some of those dishes we saw on TV. As you would expect, the range is diverse. There are crustaceans and bivalves from the shore and the reefs and rockpools, freshwater fish from rivers and estuaries, and of course the deep water beauties for which the writers had to head off to sea. Then, in the spirit of Aussie fishermen for decades, there  is also a chapter on preserving the fish they caught - by smoking, pickling and curing.

While filled with information, this is still basically a cookbook, the recipes paired with Alan Benson's superb photography. So come here for everything from abalone to Arctic char, garfish to grouper, whiting and winkles. Wonderful Tasmanian slamon is well covered, but so is sea urchin. It's that kind of book, and should be in every fish and seafood lover's kitchen.

The Gourmet Farmer goes Fishing, by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow, & Ross O'Meara, piublished Murdoch Books, 2015, hardcover, rrp A$49.99. 


- reviewed by Sally Hammond


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