Stradbroke Island, across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, sits in the middle of a fish highway. From June to September the whales pass by, and all year dolphins’ surf off Frenchman’s beach and sharks stalk schools of fish off the Point. What the sharks don’t get, the trawlers do, with the Island supporting a fishing and oyster industry. It is this access to fresh seafood which forms the basis of eating on Stradbroke.
A holiday on Stradbroke Island is laid back and simple with food shopping on the Island pretty basic. There is a butcher at Dunwich and at Point Lookout a supermarket, bakery and a small general store, the Green Room. The fare is more white bread and neenish tarts than organic sourdough and sheep’s cheese, however the Fruit Barn on the East Coast Road at Dunwich have a good deli range for those who can’t live without truffle infused olive oil for a week.
For me, food on Stradbroke is about simplicity and freshness with the meals based around what the trawlers bring in that day. The best place for fresh seafood is Mal Starkey’s onTramican Street. At the moment, they have winter whiting, squid and prawns. The squid is large and fresh and the cold weather tends to something warming – a Greek Squid Stew.
Greek Squid Stew
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup white wine
½ tin tomatoes
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
To prepare the squid, chop off the tentacles below the head (try to avoid the ink sac) and put them aside. Pull out the head and the rest of the stomach. Feel at the back and pull out the backbone, which feels like a length of plastic. Wash the rest of the stomach contents from the tube and cut the squid into1 cmrounds.
Put some olive oil in a medium sized pan and gently fry the onion and the garlic. Turn up the heat slightly and add the chopped squid (including the tentacles) and cook quickly until it turns pink. Add the white wine and turn down the heat until the wine is slightly reduced. Add in half a tin of chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste. Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes until the squid is tender.
Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley. I serve this with rice and a salad. Serves four.
Most of my friends are good cooks and for lunch in summer we all produce versions of Gordon’s Salad. Gordon is an artist, cook and gardener and can be relied on to come back from the beach and hop into the kitchen to easily put this salad together. Here is his recipe.
Gordon’s Prawn Salad
1kg large prawns
1 mango (sliced)
2 cups of baby spinach
Kaffir lime leaves (finely chopped)
11/2 limes juiced
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar or 1 cube of palm sugar
Peel and place the prawns on a large platter. Slice the mango and add to the prawns with the spinach. Add in the finely sliced kaffir lime leaf and lots of coriander. Mix the ingredients for the dressing together and then mix through the salad. Place on the table, pour a beer and dig in. Serves four.