Phippsy shares secrets

Phippsy and Drew Gardiner with Catherine and Eloise Gardiner at the big cook-up.

By Arthur Gorrie

Larger than life TV chef and host of the popular Creek to Coast fishing and cooking show, Andy “Phipsy“ Phipps, called in on friends at Rainbow Beach this week.

He said he was happy to set up at old mate Drew Gardiners shop, Gardiner Fisheries, in Karoonda Rd, on the Carlo Rd corner.

“Some people say he’s larger than life, others say he’s even larger than that,“ Mr Gardiner said.

The famous’and irrepressible Noosa celebrity chef and the man who helped pioneer day-time light-tackle mangrove jack fishing in the Noosa River, was in town to help Mr Gardiner promote Gardiner Fisheries’ mangrove jack competition, which continues today (8 January)and finishes tomorrow (9 January).

And, of course he did one of his famous spontaneous “cook-ups“, quick, simple and delicious, just like on his TV show.

“Always happy to help out a mate like Drew,“ Phippsy said. “He’s set up this shop and he’s really giving it a crack.“

Phippsy, famous for his Noosa and Sunshine Coast restaurants, is now retired at Poona, just over the Gympie Region boundary along the Fraser Coast.

He claims the world record for number of lures lost to mangrove jack.

“If you see their jaws, they are absolutely carnivorous,“ he said.

“I’m going to deep fry a whole fish today,“ he said, going against “90 percent of what I would normally do, which is to fillet and pan fry“.

“But this is the way they do it in Bali and Thailand.”

A foodie and fishing celebrity for 45 years, he has left his Noosa and Coolum restaurants behind, but he still loves to cook, especially mangrove jack, which he says is scientifically known as “Tastiest maximumus“

“It’s in the sweetlip and red emperor family and it can live in fresh or saltwater, just about anywhere there’s a feed. It loves creeks and you guys are blessed around here to have all these magnificent creeks.

“The fish are red and they light up at night and they’ve got big blue eyes. They love live bait, but don’t discard a nice fresh strip of mullet, something oily

“I tend to use 10lb tackle, so you give them a nudge. If you try to just drag them, they’ll head into their snags and you’ll lose your lure. A little tug might just make them change direction.

“I think we pioneered light tackle fishing for jack.“

Phippsy also recommended drying the fish on a tea towel, as dry as possible, and scoring the sides with a sharp filleting knife, to help the heat penetrate. Then coat it is rice flour.

“You can also use corn flour, but I like the shortness of the rice flour.

“In Asia they cook it in peanut oil. I’m using a very exclusive Black and Gold brand.

“Not olive oil though. It has too low a boiling point and can become carcinogenic if it starts to burn. Keep olive oil for salads.

“Five minutes each side,“ he said.““

Serve with peanuts and coriander, but less is more with fish. Keep it simple or you’ll spoil everything.

Meanwhile, he was preparing a pan of his own special, three minute chilli plum sauce.

And a tip on cooking equipment – buy the best, he says.

“I paid $1000 for this deep fryer in 1994 and that was a lot of money, but if I had $1 for every meal I’ve cooked with it I’d have a lot of money.“

It has taken him through the experiences behind more than 650 TV shows, 1000 live news crosses, 150 TV specials, three books, two DVDs and a partridge in a pear tree.“

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