CHEF Josh Niland is hoping to change the conversation around fish cookery and encourage us to eat much more than the odd fillet. Here are three recipes to try from his new cookbook, The Whole Fish.


A fish finger sandwich taken to the next level.

"Who doesn't love a crumbed fish sandwich on soft white bread?" asks Australian seafood chef Josh Niland. "It's important to fry the sardines in ghee in a pan rather then deep-frying, as the flavour is much better and the degree of cooking is easier to control.

"Yoghurt tartare sauce could be substituted for a hot sauce or mayonnaise, if you like. This sandwich is so versatile and a number of different fish work perfectly here, including herring, whiting, bream or flathead."


(Serves 2)

150g plain flour

4 eggs, lightly whisked

120g white panko breadcrumbs

8 x 60g sardines, scaled, gutted and butterflied (or anchovies, herring or whiting)

70g ghee

Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

4 slices soft white bread

100g yoghurt tartare sauce


1. Start by flouring, egg washing and crumbing the butterflied sardines, being sure to leave the tails of the fish uncrumbed.

2. Heat the ghee in a frying pan over a high heat and cook the crumbed sardines, in batches, on one side for one minute, or until golden and crisp, then flip to the other side and fry for a further 10-20 seconds. Remove from the pan and season liberally.

3. Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread some of the sauce over two of the slices of bread from edge to edge, then arrange four sardines on top. Add the remaining sauce on top and then the remaining slices of bread.

4. Serve with the golden edges of the sardine showing around the edges of the bread and the little tails exposed at one end.


A seriously sophisticated lunch.

"A burnt tomato has never tasted so good," says Aussie chef Josh Niland. "This dressing is a delicious accompaniment for richer flavoured fish like mackerel, tuna or herring, but make sure to only half-cook the mackerel on the grill and allow the warmth of the tomatoes and the hot toast to finish the cooking."


(Serves 4)

1 x 300g blue mackerel (alternatively mullet, herring, sardines)

60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper

2 slices good-quality sourdough bread

For the tomato dressing:

300g cherry tomatoes, halved

75g capers

125g French shallots, finely sliced into rings

2tsp caster sugar

100ml chardonnay vinegar or white-wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar

50ml fish garum (see below)

200ml extra virgin olive oil


1. To produce the garum, start by adding 50% of water to the total amount of heads, bones and scraps you have from small fish, such as sardine, mackerel, anchovies or trevally, then to this total quantity add 20% of fine salt. Mix together, transfer to a mason jar, seal and place in a circulator bath set to 40°C (104°F). Leave for seven days, stirring once daily.

It is possible to produce a garum without a circulator bath but I would suggest investing in one if you intend to try to produce this sauce as fish waste can be temperamental. If you don't have one, then use a sterilised mason jar and store in a dark place at room temperature, stirring every day. Make sure that the gall bladder is removed as it will make the finished sauce extremely bitter. This recipe is versatile and can be adapted to produce scallop, prawn (shrimp) or cuttlefish garums.

2. For the dressing, burn the tomato halves, cut side down, in batches if necessary, in a heavy, cast-iron pan over a high heat for six minutes, or until softened. Once all the tomatoes are burnt, add the remaining ingredients and leave for 30 minutes before serving. Keep warm.

3. Place the mackerel in the middle of a chopping board with the tail facing you and the belly cavity exposed and open. Using a sharp knife, cut down one side of the central spine and remove the fillet as you would if you were going through the top side of the fish, but when you reach the point where the fillet is off but still attached to the head, turn the fish so the head is now facing you and, using the top third of the knife, split the head in half. This will result in a fillet that still has the tail and the head intact. Remove the pin bones. Repeat on the other side, but this time lay the fish flat to the work surface and cut the fillet through the top of the fish ensuring that the head and tail are still attached to the fillet. (If this is too challenging, just remove the fillets as you would normally or get your fishmonger to do this.)

4. For the charcoal grill, make sure the grill is hot and the charcoal has cooked down to hot embers.

5. Brush the skin of the mackerel with a little olive oil and season with sea salt. Grill on the skin for two to three minutes until coloured and the flesh is warm to the touch, then remove and brush the fish skin with a little more olive oil and season with a little more salt and a touch of pepper.

6. Brush the bread with olive oil and grill for one minute on each side until smoky and well coloured. Arrange the toast on a plate, spoon the tomato dressing over the toast, then place the mackerel on top. Serve whole or cut to share with friends.

The Whole Fish Cookbook: New ways to cook, eat and drink by Josh Niland, published by Hardie Grant, priced £25. Photography Rob Palmer.