AS a gateway to some of the best fishing waters in Australia, Mackay is renowned for its seafood and locally grown produce.

Looking for inspiration for Christmas lunch this year?

For this month’s timely handy hint, we look at some of Mackay’s local restaurants and their dishes, created with the ocean in mind, for us to replicate this Christmas.

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1. Coconut prawns with mango dipping sauce

Breakwater Bar and Restaurant Mackay is known for its talented chefs, who bring fresh produce served “on-point” with care and attention to detail.

Specialising in seafood and steak meals, why not take inspiration from their menu for a coconut prawn dish this Christmas?

Grab some raw banana prawns from Mackay Fish Market, remove the shells and devein each one, keeping the tail on and roll them in flour, egg and panko crumb.

Next, shallow fry them to cooked perfection and serve with a mango dipping sauce made from pureed fresh mango, lime, olive oil, coriander and chilli.

Delish!

2. Oysters with ponzu, wakame and pickled ginger

Latitude 21 Bar and Restaurant at Mantra Mackay is one of Mackay’s favourite dining experiences.

Offering several seafood dishes on their dinner menu, why not try replicating their popular oysters with ponzu, wakame and pickled ginger this Christmas?

Top freshly shucked oysters with thin strips of wakame, a curl of pickled ginger and drizzle with ponzu dressing made from soy sauce, lemon juice and mirin.

These Japanese inspired oysters are sure to be a hit.

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3. Salt and pepper squid with Asian style salad and nim jam

The historic Eimeo Pacific Hotel has built an enviable reputation for having “lunch with a million-dollar view”.

Many have sat on the deck overlooking the Coral Sea, enjoying their salt and pepper squid with Asian style salad and nim jam.

Now you can too by taking inspiration from this dish and serving it up at home this Christmas.

Salt and pepper squid involves cutting and scoring squid hoods before rolling in rice flour, pepper and salt and shallow frying. Taste.com.au has a good recipe here.

Next, make a delicious Asian inspired salad by finely chopping wombok cabbage, red cabbage, shallots and combining them with freshly torn mint and coriander.

Finally, mix fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and diced garlic and ginger together to pour nim jam dressing over the top.

Fresh and yum.

4. Barramundi fillet with roasted sides

Galleons Restaurant serves some of the best seafood dishes in Mackay.

With an impressive entree, lunch and dinner menu offering many seafood dishes, why not take inspiration from their barramundi meal this Christmas?

Using a store-bought or home-made dukkah (which is an Egyptian nut, seed and spice blend using mostly walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander and cumin seeds, salt and pepper), firmly coat your fresh barramundi fillets and then pan fry until the skin is crispy and the fish cooked through.

Serve with mashed orange sweet potato (steam or boil the sweet potato until cooked, drain and mash with butter, salt and a dash of milk until smooth), roasted carrots and steamed broccoli and top with peperonata sauce (a sauce made from roasted capsicums, there is a recipe here) and aioli infused with saffron.

What a great main course.

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5. Citrus tart

Sorbellos Italian Restaurant is family-owned and operated, serving deliciously prepared seafood, tender steaks and a large range of pizzas and pastas since 1996.

They also do yummy desserts, including a citrus tart, which lends itself as the perfect inspiration for a dessert to be replicated for Christmas lunch.

Using a shortcrust pastry shell, citrus tarts use eggs, lemon juice and sugar to make a zingy custard.

If you’re looking for a great Italian inspired citrus tart recipe, Jamie Oliver has one here that also uses ricotta cheese.

Yum.