Award-winning chef and pioneer of sustainable seafood, Josh Niland has a totally new idea for Sydney: a fish and chip shop concept that pairs the nostalgia and simplicity of a charcoal chicken shop with his new school approach to seafood.
Aptly titled “Charcoal Fish”, the idea is to plate up accessible, restaurant-quality chargrilled fish that’s both friendly but equally as impressive as we’ve come to expect from the renowned chef and his team.
“Charcoal Fish has been an ambition of mine for the past 12 months,” Niland tells us. “I feel it is absolutely essential to Sydney's dining footprint that we have a charcoal chicken equivalent available for fish.”
Charcoal Fish will serve just one fish—Aquna Murray Cod from Griffith in NSW. It’s an interesting move for a chef who’s known to hero diversity when it comes to seafood, but as with anything Niland does, there’s plenty of thought behind it.
Firstly, the Murray Cod was picked because its sweet, white flesh is perfect for grilling and its stable enough to make the journey from the Aquana Aqauculture farm in Griffith to the sparkly shores of Rose Bay. The fish also fits well with Niland’s minimal waste, whole fish mantra—92% of the Murray Cod will be used.
The heads, frames, and fins of the fish will make gravy, which will become the sauce for a gravy roll filled with picked rotisserie cod fillet. The fish offal will be removed and sent to Saint Peter and Fish Butchery to be used in both venues' now-iconic fish charcuterie.
Fish collars will be grilled over charcoal and served with a fermented tamarind hot sauce, like chicken wings, but fishier. And, perhaps the pièce de résistance and most innovative trick of all—the fat from the cod will be rendered and used in Murray cod fat caramel ice cream. Incredible.
As well as the rotisserie cod and gravy rolls, at Charcoal Fish you'll be able to pick up a butterflied, boneless stuffed Murray cod as a whole fillet, half, quarter, or single—just like your classic charcoal chicken shop.
Alongside the cod in its various tasty forms, Charcoal Fish will also serve up seasonal salads and charcoal-grilled vegetables too, and yes, chips, roast potatoes, and floury baps.
“By selecting one single fish, it puts in place necessary guardrails that ensure minimal wastage and allows me to create a structure for our team to in turn elevate the standards of consistency and efficiencies which are oftentimes the two shortfalls of a fish business,” Niland explains.
“Furthermore, the opportunity that Aquna Murray Cod presents exceeds all preconceived ideas around what is truly possible with a fish. By doubling the output of one single fish, it means that instead of taking two we only need one.”
Charcoal Fish will open Wednesday 15 September for takeaway.
Image credit: Rob Palmer