5 mins with Dino Papadopoulos

Name: Dino Papadopoulos
Business and location: The Stunned Mullet, Henley Beach, Adelaide

Can you share a happy fish and chip memory?
I was brought up in a fish and chips shop, and I lived across the road from the beach. My dad was a professional cray fisherman, and seeing him come back with the catch was always exciting, to see what he’d caught.

In your business, how do you cook your fish and chips?
The most popular way we do it is with a light crispy batter. In today’s climate people are looking for a light batter. You want it to complement the flavour of the fish, not overpower it.

But we’re finding that a lot of people are also having the fish lemon grilled – that’s with sea salt, lemon juice and herbs. We also like a Japanese panko crumbs, freshly crumbed to order, and for people that are wheat intolerant we do grilled without any flour.

What type of oil do you use?

Over the years I’ve used different types. In the early days, lard was the most popular because of the flavour, and because it’s a very strong oil that doesn’t break down quickly.

But over the years people have moved to vegetable oils, and we’ve tried lots of types. At the moment I’m using Australian cottonseed oil. It has a high smoke point, and it doesn’t distract from the flavour of the product being cooked.

What seems to be your customers’ favourite fish choice?

In South Australia people tend to ask for ‘butterfish’. But as I understand it, the term came from ‘battered fish’, and people call lots of different white fishes ‘butterfish’.
We don’t have it on the menu, but the four local fish that are very popular are garfish, King George whiting, flake and flathead. We also do Atlantic salmon, and I get blue grenadier from sustainable New Zealand sources.

Sustainability is something that’s very important to us. We have signs up in our shop to let people know about our fish and where it’s from.

What is your personal favourite fish to use for fish and chips?
A lot of people ask me that, because I consider myself a fish nut. In my spare time I go fishing, I have pictures of fish all over my house, I’ve been around fish all my life, and I studied at the Australian Fisheries Academy.

But when it comes to eating fish, I would say any fish that’s fresh has its own unique flavour. They’re all different, but I wouldn’t say one is better. All over Australia there’s just so many wonderful varieties of fish. If it’s fresh and cooked up, I’m a happy chappy.

How do you like to prepare it?
When I’m watching my waistline, I have it grilled. But to be honest, I find crispy batter very hard to beat. It complements the flavour of the fish and doesn’t overpower it.

Do you have a favourite salad to have with it?
Having some salad with fish and chips is a great idea – you need to have some greens with your meal. A Greek salad, a coleslaw or a lettuce mix are the three popular ones that people get in our shop. They like a balsamic vinaigrette, or a traditional mayonnaise with the coleslaw, made in-house and dressed to taste.

What Australian wine (or other beverage) would you match with your fish and chips?
I’m a big fan of sparkling shiraz. Sparkling red wine is more unique to Australia than anywhere else in the world, and particularly South Australia.

South Australia’s got some absolutely brilliant stuff you can have with your fish and chips, because it’s got that fizzy element like soft drink that people like with their fish and chips. So if you have a sparkling red wine like a Peter Rumball or a Seppeltsfield sparkling shiraz, it goes down well.

How long have you been making/serving fish and chips?
I grew up in a fish and chip shop, and I had my first one of my own at 19. I’ve been in and out of fish and chip shops all my life.

We’ve had this shop for 12 years. We’re in a beachside suburb, and you get a lot of regulars and locals. About a third of our customers we know by name. People come round for a coffee, they invite you to their birthdays, they give you wine and chocolate for Christmas. You really become part of the family, because I think they appreciate what we do.

*NB: Although Butterfish is officially listed under the Australian Fish Names Standard, the term butterfish has been applied colloquially to a range of species that include John Dory, mullet, morwong, oilfish and rudderfish.

stunned mullet