The bounty of Oman’s waters on a plate

LAKSHMI KOTHANETH –

If you’d been in Oman for quite some time now, you’d already be aware that its waters are teeming with life. A quick jog at Shatti Al Qurm on a fine, early morning will reveal to you several men trying their hands on catching fish. Spending a few minutes with fishing poles in hands, they often go home not disappointed.
The variety of sea food that is offered in one of Oman’s finest hotels came straight from the waters of the Sultanate. What you see are diverse and fresh selection of their catch of the day.
This catch of the day gives Executive Chef Pascal Etienne a wonderful opportunity to impress his guests with delicious concoctions. His goal is always to impress his guests and impressing them with the rich marine resources coming from Omani waters is not even a challenge.
“We have two different suppliers and they bring in the day’s catch. That is what we have for the Sea Food night on Wednesdays,” Chef Pascal shared.
He went on to share that every day is almost always different. They offer a rich selection, “except the salmon, which comes from abroad. All the fish we present at “Ocean’s Best” held at Musandam Café and Terrace, Intercontinental Muscat are Omani fish,” he said.
Ask him what his favourite is from the Omani fish market and he says, “I think it has to be the sea bream. There is a huge number of fish here. We can rotate them around.”
He explained, “The classics, of course, are the prawns and lobsters, the hamour and the tuna. In addition, we have about at least more than ten different fish we receive for the day. This can change. It can be shari one day or totally different the next day. It depends on what the fishermen bring in — one can also expect blue snapper and red malet.”
Chef Pascal feels that with the long coast line of Oman, the opportunities for an exceptional culinary experience in the Sultanate are tremendous.
“Whether it comes from the north or the south part of the country, there is a huge variety of fish and sea food,” Chef Pascal said.
A delight that is gaining popularity with their hotel guests on Wednesday nights are the Omani oysters.
“We have mussels also from Europe but the oysters from Oman are a treat on their own. The Omani lobsters are unique because they do not have claws like the Canadian lobsters for example. Everyone loves it. The fish varies according to the waters. We have the local crabs too,” explained Chef Pascal.
At the main entrance of Chef Pascal’s workplace, awaiting the guests are a wide collection of fresh fish to be picked by the guest and handed over to the staff in service dressed in sailors’ outfit (bringing in the feel of the sea), who will then take it out to the chef who is at the outdoor sitting area to barbecue at that very moment.
The marinating process gives it the extra touch. The variety of seafood ranges from hamour, king fish, red snapper, barracuda, and not to forget octopus.
It’s interesting to note though that although the fishes may be from Oman, the recipes Chef Pascal uses are from different parts of the world that celebrate sea food. The choices are unlimited — one can even order seafood paella or fish pie and buns if one craves for them.