Recipe: Al Brown’s Crispy-skin snapper with oyster stew

In the new video series Tipping Point, Al Brown learns how to make and market his own brand of wine. His Tipping Point Working Bee 2020 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay goes well with this sumptuous seafood combination of crispy snapper and rich oyster stew, he says, but the chef and entrepreneur also has advice on what other dishes taste good with this style of white.

There are a couple of simple rules I keep in mind when food matching with chardonnay.

Firstly, don’t over-chill or serve the wine too cold, just take off the room temperature edge.

Also, generally, chardonnay loves buttery and cream-based dishes, such as hearty soups, risottos, chicken pies, and other savoury pastries.

Grilled and subtly smoked foods also work well. Simple chicken and pork dishes will marry well with chardonnay and, if you are lucky enough to have some fresh crayfish, scallops, or big, fresh white fillets, you will be in good shape.

As for herbs, stay away from tougher winter herbs. Think more along the lines of leafy summer ones, such as parsley, tarragon, basil, or chervil.

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Al Brown has an over-riding message when it comes to serving chardonnay, don’t over-chill or serve the wine too cold, just take off the room temperature edge.


Al Brown has an over-riding message when it comes to serving chardonnay, don’t over-chill or serve the wine too cold, just take off the room temperature edge.

Try these dishes with Tipping Point Working Bee 2020 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay:

  • Steamed asparagus with a butter sauce, such as hollandaise, or even a traditional burnt butter sauce.

  • Any sort of fish pie with a creamy potato topping, or simple fishcakes made with smoked kahawai, or similar, served with a tartare-style sauce.

  • Anything corn: chowder, fritters, cornbread.

  • Pāua anything: creamed, thinly sliced and sauteed with fresh herbs, steaks with garlic butter and, of course, fritters.

  • Simple grilled fish. Go for bigger flaked fish, such as hāpuku, bluenose or kingfish. Finish with a knob of butter, capers, and gherkin finely chopped through.

  • Roast chicken with a roasted fennel bulb and roasted celery root.

  • A simple creamy risotto finished with a pinch of saffron and a few prawns.



Paired with Tipping Point Working Bee Chardonnay

Serves 6


For the oyster stew

50g butter

1 cup shallots, finely diced

½ cup celery, fine dice

½ cup sweet sherry

36 shucked oysters, plus liquor

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups cream

Tabasco sauce, to taste

To cook and serve

6 x 100g snapper fillets, skin on and scored

Flaky sea salt and fresh black pepper

Cooking oil, for frying

Al Brown & Co Lemon Fennel Infused Olive Oil (optional)

Lemon wedges, to serve


Take a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Add the butter, along with the shallots and celery. Sweat for 20 minutes until soft and translucent.

Turn the heat up a little, pour in the sherry, let it bubble and reduce for a couple of minutes, then strain off the liquor from the oysters and add that to the saucepan.

Bring the saucepan back to the boil, and pour in the chicken stock. Simmer and reduce for 10 minutes, stir in the cream, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

Now add 12 of the shucked oysters to the pan (refrigerate the remainder until serving).

Cook the oysters for 1-2 minutes, remove the plump, cooked ones with a slotted spoon, along with about 1 cup of liquid, and place in a bowl. Using a stick blender, process the oysters and reserved liquid until smooth, then return to the pan.

Add the Tabasco to taste, then cool and refrigerate until required.

Pour the oyster stew into a saucepan and place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

Place a cast-iron skillet or similar heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Season the snapper skin liberally with salt and a little pepper.

Once the pan is hot, add a little oil, then place the snapper portions, skin side down, in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes, until the edges are golden and the skin is crisp. Turn the fish and cook, depending on how thick the fillets are, for a further minute or so. Once the fish is just cooked through, remove from the pan and keep warm.

When the oyster stew is simmering, drop in the remaining shucked oysters, and let them plump up for a couple of minutes.

To serve, ladle the stew into warm bowls, then top with a piece of snapper, skin side up. Spoon over a little olive oil, and serve with the lemon wedges on the side.

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