Kathy Paterson asks three hot young Aussie chefs to share recipes they cook at home.
In February, in seat 610, I joined more than 1500 people for the World’s longest lunch in Fitzroy Gardens. It was the opener to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The three-course lunch menu was designed by Chef Shane Delia and Patissier Adriano Zumbo. Shane, head chef of Maha in Melbourne, used locally sourced produce to create an entree and main course with his Middle Eastern bent.
A salmon tartare with pops of pomegranate and harissa mayonnaise was topped with a delightfully crisp Tunisian brik pastry wafer, the wine match a 2013 Robert Oakley Signature Series Margaret River chardonnay.
This was followed by roasted and sliced grass-fed scotch fillet, which was tender and perfectly pink (just how this was managed for so many people is logistically mind blowing), and served with smoked eggplant, preserved lemon and almond jus. Also on the plate was a delicate and delicious borek, a little roll shaped like a cigar made from brik pasty and filled with an onion mixture.
The wine match was a choice between 2013 Robert Oakley Signature Series Yarra Valley pinot noir or 2013 Robert Oakley Signature Series McLaren Vale shiraz. Adriano Zumbo’s dessert, a playful nod to apples, was a moist flourless apple cake with kaffir lime rice pudding mousse, yuzu syrup and honey and almond tuile, finished with fresh soak apples.
My next festival seat was at the Perfect Match series. This two-day event paired chefs with winemakers giving us the opportunity to taste a dish with three different wines. The dishes were of a type that can be hard to match and some of the wines were unfamiliar, but not to the winemaker who wanted to challenge us.
In one of the parings, Ben Sears (chef at Moon Park, Sydney) had teamed up with Brad Hickey (winemaker, Brash Higgins, McLaren Vale). First Ben served cured kingfish, nashi pear and washed kimchi (washed kimchi is just that — washed to enable children to eat it), matched with an Australian Clare Valley riesling, a Japanese Hiroshima sake and an Australian Riverland Brash Higgins ‘ZBO’ zibibboamphora.
We all agreed the Brash Higgins came out on top. The weight of the wine matched the weight of the dish. Also here, chilli brings a sweetness to wine.
Kimchi and all Korean food for that matter, is difficult to pair with wine. Ben compensates by toning down the use of chilli and garlic.
“What is umami?” came a question from the floor. Ben launched into a description of his “fifth taste” that put our tastebuds into overdrive. “An intense savouriness, deeply satisfying, essence of earthiness, a flavour that does not smack you. Think very ripe tomatoes, cooked down, to which you then add freshly grated parmesan, dashi, seaweed and vegemite.”
Next up was a millet congee that had the texture and consistency of porridge, topped with a piece of slow-cooked sticky oxtail and matched with a Brash Higgins shiraz, an Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay syrah and an Argentinian malbec. Syrah stood up to the dark and rich juices of the dish. Ben shared this recipe with me. Traditionally made in Korea for its restorative properties after a woman has given birth, it is now often served on birthdays. It’s also delicious made with clams instead of beef mince and Ben makes it regularly at home.
Korean beef and seaweed soup
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
500g beef mince
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful wakame
1 ½ litres dashi
Light soy sauce and sesame oil, to finish
- Place sesame oil and mince in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and brown mince. Use a wooden spoon to break up the mince as it browns.
- Add garlic and wakame and cook for 1 minute. Pour in dashi, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Finish soup with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve with rice.
- Dashi is a Japanese stock made from either fish, seaweed or mushrooms. Use the powdered version at home.
- Wakame is a form of seaweed, often used in miso and noodle soups and salads. The fronds of the sea vegetable are blanched, cut and freeze-dried. Reconstitute in water or add straight into soup. Be careful not to use too much as the pieces expand greatly in size when softened.
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Joe Grbac’s joint venture with Scott Pickett (who also owns Estelle in Melbourne’s Northcote) was opened with the vision of providing a good neighbourhood restaurant for Collingwood locals It wasn’t long before the accolades for Saint Crispin started coming in, and so did the out-of-towners ... good luck with that boys! Joe’s inspirational menu brings out all that’s good in seasonal, predominantly local, produce. Food here is full of flavour and technique-driven. By now I was ready for some simple contemporary food and I found exactly this when I went there for dinner. My pan-fried john dory, with its flesh and skin perfectly cooked, sat on minestrone vegetables in broth. The vegetables were cut into the most delicate pieces that only a chef with top knife skills could achieve.
The restaurant’s wine list is boutique (it includes New Zealand wines) and the waiters pouring are savvy. When you visit Saint Crispin, notice the subtle nods to the patron saint of cobblers, the building’s original inhabitants.
Joe is one of 12 children, so eating out was never an option. Growing produce to eat was important to his parents and was transferred by osmosis to Joe. Today his home garden is full of citrus and fruit trees, vines and seasonal berries, herbs and vegetables — whatever is in season.
Here’s a recipe Joe likes to cook at home. He recommends using a Greek brand of risone (also known as orzo) and a homemade chicken stock for the best flavour. He uses an heirloom variety of carrot pulled straight from the garden.
1 litre chicken stock, more if needed
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
6 baby carrots, scrubbed and cut in very thin rounds (a mandolin is good here)
3 baby carrots, scrubbed and cut into long thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler
Freshly grated parmesan
- Pour chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Place oil and onion in a heavy-based saucepan and cook over a low heat until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add risone and toast for 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of stock, stir and cook, stirring frequently until stock is absorbed. Repeat this step until risone is almost cooked, then add carrot rounds. Continue cooking until risone is al dente.
- Meanwhile, toss carrot ribbons in a little olive oil and season with salt.
- Remove risone from heat, stir in butter and taste for seasoning. Divide between 4 warmed bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and top with carrot ribbons.
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Melbourne’s Fitzroy has a vibe that is wildlyalternative- meets-eager young professionals.
They are looking for quality, unprocessed food and great hospitality and chef Daniel Wilson (originally from New Zealand and now firmly ensconced in Melbourne’s food scene) is providing just that at Huxtable and Huxtaburger. I met Daniel at Huxtable which he says gives him the opportunity to share his desire for designing food that is mostly for sharing as he feels this is the best way to eat. This is a recipe from his cookbook Huxtabook that I have slightly simplified by leaving the bone in on the ribs once cooked. Daniel’s presentation is a bit more fancy than mine. Use a red wine you would be happy to drink. Daniel uses all red wine and no stock.
Red wine braised beef short ribs
1 kg beef short ribs (cut into individual ribs)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
1 leek, white part only, sliced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
1 carrot, roughly diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
250ml red wine
250ml beef stock
4 large sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
a few parsley stalks
25g butter an 25g flour rubbed together until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Heat the oven to 170C. Dust ribs with some seasoned flour. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan, over a medium heat. Add ribs and cook until golden and a crust is formed. Transfer to a casserole dish. Wipe out frying pan if necessary.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the frying pan and add onion, leek, celery, carrot and garlic and cook until golden. Remove and poke in the gaps between ribs.
- Pour wine and stock into the frying pan with the herbs and bring to the boil. Pour over ribs and vegetables ensuring ribs are covered in liquid. Cover with a piece of baking paper and the lid. Place in the oven and cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours until ribs are tender.
- Remove from oven and strain braising liquid into a saucepan. Keep ribs warm. Whisk in butter mixture to thicken and simmer until flour is cooked out, then season.
- Serve ribs with a parsnip puree or mashed potato and a bowl of steamed green vegetables.
- Let ribs cool in the braising liquid. Strain braising liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan and place over a low heat to reduce a little. Skim away any fat. Taste sauce then whisk in butter mixture and simmer until the flour is cooked out.
- Slide bone from ribs, then place meat in the fridge to firm up. Trim gelatinous part from where rib hangs onto the bone and square up. Add ribs back to the sauce and warm through. Serve on a bed of parsnip puree, sprinkled with persillade.
- Finely chop a good handful of Italian parsley leaves and 4 cloves garlic. Mix together with a dash of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.