This dish combines some of those excellent southern Italian flavours, the powerful herbiness of oregano matched with sweet honey and salty black olive combine to give an aromatic combination. The honey and oregano butter is happy on either meat or seafood as long as there’s the smoky element of having something chargrilled. A perfect dish for a summer barbecue.
- 50 g pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthways
- 1 whole snapper (plate size), scaled and gutted, approximately 500 g
- river salt and white pepper
- a large handful of something green such as watercress or rocket
For the butter
- 20 g unsalted butter
- 3 large eschallots, thinly sliced
- 5 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 50 g honey
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 200 g butter, diced and at room temperature
- lemon juice
- river salt and black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drying time 2 hours
Cover a baking tray with baking paper, scatter the olives on it so they are nice and spread out, place in an oven at 100°C and allow them to dry out for about 2 hours. You want them to be a little crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.
To make the butter place a medium saucepan over a low heat, add the first amount of butter, the eschallots, the garlic, a little seasoning and gently cook for about five minutes stirring occasionally. You want the mix to be softened and just starting to caramelise.
At this stage, add the oregano, raise the heat, give it another little stir and then add the honey. Cook it for another brief moment until the honey starts to boil. Remove from the heat, turn your mixture out in a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature. You can slip the mix into the fridge if you are in a hurry for it to cool faster.
Once it’s cool, place the honey mixture and butter together in a bowl and, using a rubber spatula, forcefully combine. You need the mix to not only combine but to also whip slightly and become fully amalgamated. When your arm needs a little rest, add the lemon juice and some seasoning before having another go. Butter is ready when it looks light and fluffy. Have a taste, you want a nice salty sweet balance and then set aside while you cook your fish. (This step can be made using KitchenAid with paddle attachment.)
Make sure your snapper is at room temperature, score both sides of the fish, rub with a little olive oil and season. Gently place on a hot chargrill pan or on a barbecue grill and leave to cook for about four to five minutes. Using a spatula and being very gentle, flip the fish and cook on the other side for about the same time. This is of course a guide only as I’m sure nowadays most people have firm ideas about how to cook a fish on a barbecue. Do what you think is best.
To serve, lay the fish down on a bed of your greens, scatter over the olives, balance the butter on top and give it a final drizzle of good olive oil.
• The olives can be made in advanced and kept for at least a week in an airtight container. The butter also can be made in advance and will keep for at least a week in the fridge and can also even be frozen and kept for up to three months.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Plate by Joost from Koskela; crystals supplied by Collier’s Crystals Blackheath; tiles from Onsite Supply & Design.