Mofo guide to pairing | Josh Niland's Frenched Cutlets

By Vinomofo
5 months ago
5 min read

Fish Butchery by Josh Niland is available in all good bookshops right now, and it got us thinking about our perfect wine pairings for all things fishy.

Here's our buyer Pete’s dynamite pairing tip and a couple of wines to match with Josh Niland’s technique for Frenched Cutlets - grab a glass and give it a crack yourself at home.

The general trick to pairing with fish is to ease off on the tannins - the lighter the protein, the lighter the wine you want to be reaching for. Tannin binds to protein (it’s that grip you feel in your mouth, especially with big reds like cab sav or malbec), so pairing fish with a heavy red can feel as clumsy on your palate as an orangutan doing origami. Bigger, meatier, ocean bullies like tuna or barramundi can handle a bit of tannin (lighter pinots or a rosé work a treat). Whatever catch of the day you’re serving up, grab a pairing to match that weight and texture. - Pete, Senior Wine Buyer

Pikes 'Traditionale' Riesling 2023

A wine that needs no introduction, it’s a sure fire pairing winner here. Lemon-lime pithiness, refreshing mineral core, and a humming note of white blossoms and jasmine sing a beautiful harmony. If you’re looking for the best riesling of Clare, notice us gently nudge this one your way. Classic zip and zing to bring a harmony of flavours together with the fish.

Taltarni Vineyards Taché Sparkling Rosé 2016

Lifted fruit, crisp acid, and fine-bead mousse make you feel like you’ve just walked out of Paris’s Café Joyeux Champs-Élysées and straight onto Monaco’s Boulevard Albert 1st. Too pretentious for you? Don’t be dissuaded; this stunner has the all-rustic charm from its old vine vineyard, plus lees and oak to give it an excellent toasty complexity. Outstanding. You know it’s good because that’s what everyone at the ‘Fo will be drinking this summer - especially with seafood.


Frenched Cutlets

(Rib Bone In, Spine Out)

This is a perfect cut for crumbing as, apart from the single rib bone, the frenched cutlets are completely boneless. To attempt this cut, be sure to start with a fish that has been gutted,scaled and is no less than 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz), as anything smaller will not have bones that are structurally strong enough.


1. Position the fish on the cutting board with the head to your left and tail to the right. Using a short sharp knife, cut from the anal vent of the fish in a straight line towards the collar, being careful not to cut through the rib bones that sit immediately below. Like a rack of lamb, the idea here is to remove the belly from half of the ribs to expose them. Work your knife up and around to remove the collar and belly, then turn the fish over so that the cavity is still away from you but now the tail is on your left and head on the right. Repeat the same cut again to ensure that the two cuts you have made marry up in a straight line at the top of the fish.


2. Using a cleaver or large chef ’s knife, slice through the soft vertebrae and then find the spinal vertebrae to cut in between, allowing you to then cut off the tail end of the fish, which can be set aside for another purpose. Draw the blade down in a diagonal line from the nape behind the head of the fish, past the pectoral fin and finishing on the tail side of the pelvic fin. Repeat this on the other side ensuring the two cuts marry up at the top, allowing you to cut the head off the fish. Set the head and collars aside for a separate application. What’s remaining now is both fillets on the bone with the rib-bones still in place.

3. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the ribs away from the central spine, being careful not to penetrate the full length of the scissors into the flesh, as this will compromise the final aesthetic. Once the ribs have been cut off both sides of the spine, cut down to separate the fillets and remove the central spine. With a short sharp knife, cut the intercostals from between the ribs. This meat can be set aside for another recipe.


4. With a chef’s knife now, cut between each frenched rib bone. This will create individualised cutlets and allow pin bones to be removed from the flesh. Repeat on the other side. To clean the flesh fully off these exposed rib bones, bring a pot of water to the boil and carefully dip the bones into the water. Once the bones have been briefly dipped into the hot water, use a tissue or towel to rub away the cooked flesh from the bone.

This is an edited extract from Fish Butchery: Mastering The Catch, Cut And Craft By Josh Niland, published by Hardie Grant Books.

Photography:   © Rob Palmer.

Want to find your own perfect pair? Shop our full range here.

Hey Kids!

Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 it is an offence:

  • to supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (penalty exceeds $23,000).
  • for a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (penalty exceeds $900)

Liquor Licence No. 36300937


At Vinomofo, we love our wine, but we like to also lead long and happy lives, and be good to the world and the people in it. We all try to drink responsibly, in moderation, and we really hope you do too.

Don’t be that person…

Acknowledgement of Country

Vinomofo acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continued connection to the land and waters of this country.

We acknowledge this place always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.