In memory of James and Elgin Rhind. Top fishermen. Top Blokes.
Labour weekend in our family always started off with a big old working bee at our bach in Maraetai. The promise of summer was just around the corner and us kids would help Pop and Dad dust off the fizz boat, the dinghy and the canoe they’d built by hand. For me being reunited with my fishing rod was always my greatest joy.
From Labour weekend to the Easter holidays we fished from the beach. That 10lb snapper is firmly etched in my memory but it was – and still is – catching kahawai that gave me the greatest thrill. A school would rip across the foreshore and I’d battle against all odds to pull them in as fast as I could wind in my reel. Truimphant and hungry, it would be straight to the smoker for these mighty fish. We’d eat them hot off the bone with large slabs of white bread and butter, and if there were left overs they’d go straight into a smoked fish pie.
After 72 years our beloved family bach is sold. We have handed her over for another family to enjoy and dig deep roots. And I celebrate this labour weekend and a lifetime of memories in an upside down version of a smoked kahawai pie.
White anchovies are the king of umami and add wonderful depth of flavour to this dish. They dissolve away to nothing as you sauté them with leeks and butter. And trust me, even the most anchovy loathing person will demand the recipe!
1 kg agria potatoes
2 T butter
2 egg beaten
Salt to taste
6 hard boiled eggs
WHITE ANCHOVY and LEEK SAUCE
100 g butter
1 leek sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk very finely minced
2 bay leaves
8 Talatta White Anchovies (or 50g parmesan cheese)
100 ml double cream
60 ml white wine
40 ml fish stock
2 T brown rice flour or plain white flour
1 t English mustard
Salt and black pepper
500 g smoked kahawai torn into hunks
200 g shelled raw prawns
A good handful of finely chopped parsley
Zest of one lemon
Lightly tossed together
First of all boil the spuds and eggs (in separate pots!).
As soon as a knife slides easily through the spuds remove from heat, drain well and add butter. Mash and then add the 2 beaten eggs and beat quickly till creamy. Season and set aside as you make the filling.
In your Ironclad Pan over a medium heat pan sauté the leek, garlic, celery and bay leaves in butter until soft.
Add the anchovies and mush into the leeks till dissolved and sauté another minute. Add cream, wine and stock and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
Heat oven to 180°C.
Thicken the anchovy cream sauce with the flour of your choice mixed into a runny paste with one quarter of a cup of cold water. Simmer sauce for 1 minute, stirring all the time to avoid lumps.
Add mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste. You won’t need much salt as the anchovies will do the salty work for you. Gently stir in the kahawai and transfer mixture into a bowl.
Rinse your Ironclad Pan and then on the stove top heat two tablespoons of olive oil until just hot and heap half the mashed potatoes around the bottom of the pan in large tablespoons. It doesn’t need to look pretty, nor does it need to cover the whole bottom of the pan.
Transfer pan to oven and bake the mashed potatoes for 15 minutes till just beginning to brown.
Add raw prawns to the kahawai cream sauce and heap on top of the baked mashed potato, leaving a half inch rim around the edge of the pan.
Fill a piping bag (or a ziplock bag with a 1cm hole cut in the corner) with the remaining mashed potato and pipe the potato inside the rim of your pan. Create a pattern around the rim by gently pressing a fork into the potato then sprinkle with smoked paprika.
Lastly arrange the hard boiled eggs on top, pressing them into the kahawai cream sauce. Spray or brush the eggs liberally with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the potato is nicely browned and sauce is sizzling.
To serve sprinkle with gremolata. Hooray! Summer is on it’s way!