March 2010

It’s peak season for both wild prawns from northern NSW and southeast Queensland and farmed ones from far north Queensland. These sweet little crustaceans help turn a light lunch of gazpacho into something more substantial at The Armoury Wharf Café (Blaxland Riverside Park, Jamieson St, Newington, Ph 9714 7513), a trio of them skewered, grilled and served alongside the gazpacho. There’s also a decent prawn sambal served at new Indonesian eatery, Djava (Shop 3/1 Kingsway, Cronulla, Ph 9544 3442).

We’re still seeing good crabs — blue swimmers, spanners and muds — and one of the best ways to try Queensland spanner variety is at Sepia (Darling Park, 201 Sussex St, Sydney). Chef Martin Benn works it into a buckwheat risotto with mustard butter and shellfish essence, and despite what sounds very tricky, it’s a rich, comforting dish. Otherwise try crab cakes at South (222 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, Ph 9908 5225) for their straight-up homestyle appeal.

Wild barramundi is in season now, too. Ask your waiter if it’s wild or farmed because, by the time it lands at table, your only clues will be a firmer texture and more defined scallop-like flakes in the wild. When raw, the wild is greyer than the white-fleshed farmed, but they both end up pretty pale once cooked

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