After what seemed to be an awfully long hiatus Australian tiger flathead is in plentiful supply at the fish markets at the moment. Sweet and succulent it is a firm favourite in our house. Like ravenous, circling seagulls my family devour it by the plateful. Gorgeous as it is served with a simple salad, today I decided to try something different. Make it the star attraction of a towering fish burger, replete with lettuce, avocado, tomato and lashings of Marie Rose sauce.
The gorgeously hued, intriguingly named Marie Rose sauce was the stalwart of many a 1970’s and 80’s dinner party. A key ingredient in the ubiquitous prawn cocktail , a then avant-garde but now passe layered creation of shredded iceberg lettuce, prawns served in a cocktail glass. The sauce, itself, is more familiarly referred to simply as cocktail sauce or even thousand island dressing, easily made from just a few pantry staples; mayonnaise and tomato, Worcester and Tabasco sauces.
Urban legend has it that the sauce was named after the famous Tudor warship, The Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. In the 1970’s a plan was hatched to salvage the wreck and in 1982 the ship became a star attraction at The Portsmouth Museum. Urban legend has it that during the salvage operations a naval chef on hand to feed the army of workers realised he didn’t have enough sauce to accompany the prawns he was planning to serve for dinner. Improvising with the ingredients he had on hand he devised a tangy dressing and named it Marie Rose sauce after the shipwreck.
Fast forward to 2014, this sauce sweet, tangy sauce is the perfect addition to my delicious fish burger.
Flathead Fish Burgers With Marie Rose Sauce
500g skinless and boneless flathead fillets
1/2 cup plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, for frying
6 hamburger buns halved and toasted
1 head of soft lettuce, leaves washed, dried and separated
2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup Marie Rose sauce (recipe follows)
To Prepare Flathead
TEAR or slice flathead fillets in half lengthways into long strips
TOSS the strips in a little flour, salt and pepper, shaking off any excess.
HEAT a large, heavy pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, reduce heat to medium and add enough olive oil to thoroughly coat the pan.
COOK the fillets in batches for 3-4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Fillets should sizzle the moment they touch the pan. Add additional oil between batches if necessary.
To Assemble Burgers
SPREAD a generous tablespoon of Marie Rose sauce over the base of toasted hamburger buns.
LAYER over lettuce, flathead fillets, tomato and avocado.
TOP with remaining bun halves. Serve immediately.
Marie Rose Sauce
¼ cup home-made (recipe follows) or good quality organic whole egg mayonnaise
1 heaped tablespoon home-made tomato jam or good quality store-bought tomato sauce
3 drops Tabasco
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
WHISK together ingredients until smooth and well combined. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper. Store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator, for up to three days, until ready to serve.
Makes 1¼ cups
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
sea salt and ground white pepper
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
PROCESS or blend the egg, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until well combined.
WITH the motor running, pour the oil in very slowly in a thin stream and process until the mixture is thick and creamy.
STORE in an airtight container or glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week,until ready to use.