They call it the City of Sails… and with all those boats, and all that water, you can bet there’s some pretty fantastic seafood.
As I mentioned in my first impressions of Auckland, life here seems to center around the harbor (as well it should – it’s gorgeous down there!). So as I perusing various sites for ways to occupy my time here, keeping in mind the awesome Auckland seafood, I stumbled across the Auckland Seafood School. Now I’m no professional chef – I just mastered the art of the fried egg earlier this year – but I thought, why not? I’ll give it a stab. Under the guided supervision of a professional, how badly could I really screw it up?
On the menu:
Crispy Prawn, Herb and Cheese Fritters, and Smoked Salmon with Potato Rosti, Wilted Spinach, Poached Egg and Citrus Mayonnaise
Sounds simple enough, right?
The school, located in the Auckland Fish Markets, has been demystifying the cooking process for eager students since 2004. Their method has successfully taken aspiring cooks or non-cooks of every level and infused the fun into being in the kitchen.
My Sunday Brunch class began at 10:30 a.m., starting with an hour-long demonstration of the day’s recipes. Those chefs always make it look so easy – just a dash of this, a swirl of that, mix it all together while you keep an eye on a,b and c to keep them from burning, and then you do a handstand while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and you’re done! Only here it would be something other than the American Pledge of Allegiance, I’m guessing.
But in all seriousness, the recipes didn’t sound all that complicated. And we were divided into groups, and so would be delegating various tasks to each group member. Phew!
My job was the Cripsy Prawn, Herb and Cheese Fritters. Which are essentially like a pancake with stuff in them. Given my southern breakfast-making roots, this was a recipe I could handle! Basically I had to chop onion and garlic, and sauté them along with the prawns (or shrimp… depending on where you are) and some spices. Then you fold that mixture into a batter of eggs, flour and baking soda, ladle them onto the frying surface, let them cook exactly like pancakes do and voila! Served with a dollop of sweet chili sauce and you have fancy fritters!
It was quite a feat to have produced fritters that were not only edible, but delicious on the very first try (ask anyone who knows me – the most common word uttered when I’m cooking is “oops”). Paired with our salmon, poached eggs, spinach, and potato rostis, it was a perfectly delightful little brunch. And an excellent way to spend a Sunday in Auckland, doing something slightly off the beaten tourist track.
Have you ever taken a cooking class while traveling? If so, how was it?
Now it’s probably cheating, I can’t help but share the recipe for the fritters with you guys. And if you’re ever in Auckland, do check out the Auckland Seafood School. They have a whole calendar of upcoming classes, many of which sell out. And what better souvenir to take home than recipes you can enjoy again and again?
Crispy Prawn, Herb and Cheese Fritters
- 400 g (15 oz) raw prawn (shrimp) meat
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- handful of fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
- 200 g (7 oz) feta cheese
- salt to taste
- sweet chili sauce
- Lightly sauté prawn meat, then chop.
- Gently heat a saucepan and add olive oil, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and gently sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Add prawns and mix, then remove from heat.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl, add flour and baking soda and mix to form a batter.
- Gently fold in the onion, garlic and prawn mix, and chopped herbs. Season to taste.
- Spoon two tablespoons of mix per fritter onto a saucepan or hot plate and cook until golden brown. Flip over to cook other side.
- Serve with sweet chili sauce.