A few weeks ago I went with my friend Ju’eta to a Moroccan class at the Sydney Seafood Cooking School. I bought her the class as a gift for her birthday – that’s her hands chopping the green capsicum in top left hand corner.
When we turned up at the Sydney Fish Market where the classes are held, we had no idea what to expect. I’ve only ever done one cooking class before in Thailand and Ju’eta had no experience at all.
I was surprised to see it was set up as a mini amphitheater with tiered seating and a large cooking bench at the front. There were mirrors above the work bench so you had a good view no matter where you were sitting. We sat in the front row because we’re goody-two-shoes!
To begin with there was a demonstration of the dishes we were going to cook and an explanation of Moroccan food in general. Since the final dish of Chermoula Fish and Couscous included preserved lemons, our guide also gave us a quick demo on how to make them.
After a few safety instructions and a sprinkle of good luck we were ushered into the cooking room. We divided ourselves into groups of 5 and started cooking. I should note here that Ju’eta and I were a bit surprised that we weren’t in slightly smaller groups of 2 or even have individual stations. Maybe I was spoilt in Thailand being able to have my own work station? What’s your experience?
While we were cooking I looked around the room and realised the group arrangement was a lot of people’s saving grace because they clearly did not have much experience in the kitchen. So I guess that’s why they pop you into larger groups, but for Ju’eta and I it was a shame. We only got to chop a few vegies and plate up the couscous – not really a challenge!
The recipes were great, though. The chermoula fish was made with nice thick snapper fillets and all the vegetables were really fresh and crispy. Chermoula is a herb and spice paste made of coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon and olive oil. It was used to marinate the fish and then cooked with celery, red onion, green capsicum and tomatoes and flavoured with verjuice, preserved lemons and green olives. Is your mouth watering?
The couscous to accompany the fish was a gorgeous combination of raisins, almonds and chickpeas. We made an aromatic sauce to flavour it by melting butter, ground cumin, ground coriander and salt. I hadn’t thought to melt the butter in a pan first before adding it to couscous. I was happy to learn a new trick.
I must mention that our little group got along really well and their funny and friendly personalities made the experience really enjoyable. We ate our hard work in an adjacent dining room and it was delicious!
I know the school is undergoing some major renovations at the moment. So I hope they consider having some individual stations for more advanced classes. I wouldn’t even mind paying extra. If they did, I’d definitely go back, but for now I think it suits less experienced cooks who want to expand their repertoire without jumping in the deep end.
Happy cooking, Christie
Sydney Seafood Cooking School
Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont
Ph: + 61 2 9004 1111
Click here to book online