This week I visited Liat Ben Yishay, the new owner of Hooked and Cooked fish and chips in Mullumbimby. It’s not every day you see a person who likes their job, but it was very clear that Liat really enjoys her new shop.
Hooked and Cooked has been the local fish shop in Mullumbimby for over 20 years, and it’s now under new management, with new recipes and fresh wild-caught fish delivered every day.
A number of years ago, Liat changed her diet to cut out chicken and red meat, and now eats a lot of fish and vegetables. It’s obviously working for her, because she is not only warmly welcoming of customers in her shop, which she calls her ‘baby’, she’s also busy and energetic. ‘I feel amazing’, she says.
Her love of fish goes deeper than that – Liat’s grandfather was from Greece, and he not only loved to catch fish in the Israeli seaside town where they lived, and to cook the fish (very simply), but he also liked to sip a cup of ouzo, and tell stories to his granddaughter while they ate together.
The ‘barbunya’ that her grandfather caught is a sort of red mullet, highly prized in cuisine around the Mediterranean, very low in fat and easy to digest. Perhaps growing up on freshly caught fish is what has made her so keen on wild fish. While the crumbed fish, as in most fish and chip shops, is bought frozen, the fresh fish she sells, such as snapper, barramundi, jewfish, and more, is all wild caught.
‘I am really happy that the fresh fish is wild caught’, says Liat. ‘There are many health-conscious people in Mullumbimby. I don’t believe in that system of fish farming using antibiotics, and industrial food making the fish bigger and changing their colour. But it’s not only about being free of antibiotics, it’s also about the flavour.’
Although I’m a vegetarian, I often cook Liat’s fish at home for the rest of my family, but every now and again I get the store to grill it. Talking to her I find out that, unlike my somewhat ‘intuitive’ method, they take a very scientific approach to temperature and grill times to ensure each piece of fish is grilled consistently, to the best quality.
One thing that is very important to Liat is the environment. She’s changed to all biodegradable packaging, and even gives a small discount to people who bring their own boxes to the shop, because she doesn’t need to use her own boxes and paper to wrap the fish. People who order and dine in the shop can also use a special basket that can be washed and re-used.
I ask her how she stays so friendly, given that she works six or seven days a week in the shop? ‘It’s just me’, says Liat, ‘if you feel good on the inside, that’s your outside. This is me – Hooked & Cooked’.
Hooked & Cooked Mullumbimby.
Fresh and cooked fish, burgers, wraps and more.
Open 7 days, 10.30am–8.30pm | 64 Stuart St, Mullumbimby | Ph 6684 2146