Michael Bacash realised the quintessential truth about cooking great seafood as a child enjoying long, lazy summer holidays. "We had our family holiday house at Mount Martha and we used to catch flathead, garfish and snapper, and then cook them up in the boatshed," he says. "I learned from early on that you don't need to do much to truly fresh seafood to make it taste great."
For the fish
4 x 150g garfish, butterflied, head removed but with tails on
200g melted butter
1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
For the salad
1 head frisee lettuce, yellow centre leaves only
1/4 bunch continental parsley leaves
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, salted and lightly dried in a very slow oven
1 Spanish onion sliced into thin rings
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 250C.
To make the breadcrumb topping put the breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, cayenne pepper and lemon zest into a medium-sized bowl and pour in half the melted butter. Rub the butter through the crumbs as if making a crumble topping, the idea being to cover all the crumbs with butter so that they turn golden in the oven.
Take the garfish fillets and trim the head end to be the same shape as the end with the tail, fold the fillets in half so that they are even with just the tail sticking out.
Place greaseproof paper on a flat, heavy-bottomed baking tray and butter liberally.
Place the 4 triangle-shaped garfish fillets on top, making sure there are a couple of centimetres between them, and then season the fillets and once again liberally coat with melted butter. While the butter on the fish is still soft put a blanket of the breadcrumb mixture over the fish. Apply liberally but don't pat down.
Place the fish in hot oven for about 5 minutes or until the crumbs are golden. Remove from the tray and place 2 fillets on each plate with the tails pointing outwards, and a gap between them for the salad. Garnish with salad and a lemon half.