Facing the Woolloomooloo Wharf, Manta Restaurant and Bar is where you go for prime steak and seafood – or both, if you feel extra festive. Steve Hetherington, the head chef gave us a quick tour of the fine dishes he prepares for locals and tourists alike.
"John Dory is known as the king of the sea and for good reason," Hetherington says of the classic (and incredibly healthy!) dish. "It is one of my favourite fish to eat because of its subtle sweet flavour and almost meaty texture. We get our John Dory line caught from New Zealand. The garnish is designed to highlight the fish and not overpower the flavour – carrot and cumin puree provides an earthy element, green peas are in season at the moment and beautiful and fresh, and the jamon vinaigrette is a balance of salty jamon and sweet and sharp white balsamic vinegar which ties all the flavours together. A lovely balance of salt, sweet and acid. The pea shoots provide a fresh textural element."
"We source our scallops from the Atlantic Ocean, a wild product which is unrivalled by any local scallops I have tasted. They are meaty and fresh with a beautiful natural sweetness, almost tasting like the ocean. For the garnish, we use a beautiful ingredient in Jerusalem artichokes, aroot vegetable with natural earthiness and sweetness. We use this two ways - we make a puree which give it a light creamy flavour; we also shave them very thin and pickle them. This is a massive contrast from the puree and also adds a textural element to the dish. We use another very underappreciated ingredient in lentils, cooked to al dente lentils are a beautiful ingredient and pair very well with seafood. The earthiness of the artichokes and lentils counteracted by the pickle of the artichoke create a wonderful balance which i think compliment the scallops beautifully, with the scallops still very much the hero of the dish," he says.
"Toothfish is such a special product that we are very lucky to be able to use here in Australia. It is caught in australian waters at heard island in antarctica, It is a msc certified sustainably caught fish, truly unlike anything else you can get in Australia. We marinate the tooth fish for 24 hours in a miso marinade, This almost cures the outside of the fish and gives it a wonderful caramelised exterior when oven roasted. The toothfish is naturally a very buttery or oily fish, this is due to how deep the fish is caught. The garnish therefor needs to be sharp and fresh to balance the richness of the fish. We make a very fresh mix of shaved cabbage, carrot, spring onion, black sesame and corriander. We dress this with a sharp yuzu vinaigrette - a balance of yuan juice, chilli, garlic, palm sugar and fish sauce. The textural element of this dish are little cubes of picked daikon, these are crunchy and sweet/sour which really cuts through again the richness of the fish."
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