Rivers and Lakes Shared Platter

Recipe by Alla Wolf-Tasker

Servings: 2–3 | Prep Time: 2 hours plus curing | Skill Level: 3 (Challenging)

This dish is made up of several recipes. They are wonderful combined and beautiful on their own, and great added to something else in your own way.


Cure mix

  • 600 g salt
  • 400 g sugar
  • 2 lemons, zested  
  • 12 fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • 1 fillet from a 2 kg Murray cod, cleaned and skinned (reserve bones)
  • 1 x 300–400 g freshwater trout pin-boned and skinned (reserve skin and bones)
  • 1 medium-sized smoked eel, filleted (reserve skin, head and bones)
  • 2 small yabbies
  • (or 1 large) per person, shelled (reserve shells)
  • 40–60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2–3 sprigs thyme
  • 2–3 strips lemon zest

Smoked fish stock

  • Olive oil
  • 4 Shallots, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable)
  • Reserved fish remains
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • Small handful fresh herbs, basil, tarragon


  • 2 gelatine sheets
  • 250mls fish stock recipe (above)

Watercress purée

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Mustard crème fraîche

  • 250 ml crème fraîche
  • 6–8 drops mustard oil

To finish

  • 1 tsp Lilliput (tiny) capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon, zest  
  • 4 tsp finely diced cucumber
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • Wild fennel fronds and flowers


  1. To cure the fish: mix all cure mix ingredients evenly together. To cure the Murray cod, spread a quarter of the cure mix over a square of plastic wrap. Place fillet on top, cover with another quarter of the cure mix and wrap up tightly in the plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours.  To cure the trout, use remaining cure mix to prepare in the same way, but only cure for 30 minutes. Remove both fish from the wrap and wash off the cure. Pat fish dry with paper towel. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use.
  2. Trout skin crackling: trim trout skins and scrape clean. Dry out in a gas oven with just the pilot light on or under heat lamps for about 30 minutes. This can also be done in a dehydrator. Once completely dry, store skin in an airtight container until ready to use.
  3. Smoked eel: divide fillets into three equal 10cm lengths and stack each of these on top of one another. Press each stack together to form a neat rectangle and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze into a neat rectangular block. Once frozen, use an electric slicer to shave long, at slices of frozen smoked eel directly onto small pieces of baking paper, lining up 3–4 slices next to each other (carpaccio style) on each piece of paper. Reserve any trimmings to make smoked fish stock or rillettes. Store the slices on the papers, stacked on top of each other in the fridge.
  4. Yabbies: Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Place the yabbies into the saucepan, careful not to overcrowd. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until cooked. Place into a bowl of iced water. Remove and using scissors cut off heads and remove shells and guts. (reserve for stock) place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, pinch salt, pepper, lemon zest and fennel flowers.  If using a sous vide: set a sous vide machine to 52°C. Gut the yabby tails, wash thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel. Place 2 tails at a time into a sous vide bag, together with 20 ml of extra virgin olive oil, 1 sprig of thyme and one strip of lemon zest. Place in the sous vide machine and poach at 52°C for 12 minutes for large yabbies. For the smaller ones, place three in a bag and cook for 8–12 minutes, depending on size. Cool by plunging the bags into iced water. Refrigerate the bags.
  5. Smoked fish stock: heat a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, drizzle with olive oil, add the shallots, celery, carrots, fennel, garlic and thyme, cook, stirring until softened. Add the fennel and coriander seeds and star anise. Add the brandy an allow a few minutes to cook the alcohol off. Reduce slightly then add the stock. Add all the reserved fish remains, bring to a simmer and cook down. Add the chopped tomatoes, bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir through the fresh herbs.
  6. To make jelly: place 2 sheets of gelatine in a bowl of iced water, when softened, squeeze and drain off the excess liquid. Place in a saucepan with 250mls of the warm stock and whisk well to combine. Pour into a mould and set aside. When set, cut jelly into small cubes.
  7. Watercress purée: wash watercress thoroughly and blanch for 40 seconds in a pot of boiling water. Drain and shock in iced water. Drain again and pat dry with paper towel. Chop watercress, then purée in a blender with lemon zest and juice and sufficient olive oil to make a paste. Pass through a tamis (drum sieve) and refrigerate.
  8. Fennel salad: using a mandolin, finely slicethe fennel bulb, place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add the garlic and finely sliced fennel fronds. Season.
  9. Mustard crème fraîche: combine crème fraîche and mustard oil. Add a few pinches of salt to make a well-seasoned, lightly pungent accompaniment.
  10. To finish: dice cured trout. Gently mix with lilliput capers, lemon zest and cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice Murray cod on an angle as for sashimi. Cut each dried trout skin in half with scissors. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 200°C. Fry each skin piece individually and very quickly – only until the skin expands – using tongs to keep moving the skin through the oil. Drain on paper towel. Season with salt and preferably use immediately.
  11. Assembly: turn a small paper-full of eel slices onto the middle of a serving platter. Position slices of Murray cod at each end of the eel slices. Intersperse with mounds of cured trout mix and the yabbies. Add a small spoonful of fennel salad. Small cubes of jelly. Add quenelles of mustard crème fraîche in the middle or around the eel slices – use these to anchor pieces of trout skin crackling. Place small dollops or quenelles of watercress purée around the assembly. Garnish with fennel fronds and flowers of wild fennel pollen to finish.