Monday, July 28, 2008
It was my 22nd birthday on Friday. Thank you, thank you. Well how was it you ask? I was working all day and night as usual but I did manage to get out for a bit afterwards where a good friend of mine presented me with my very first Global knife! I was completely bowled over by the sentiment. Shhh! Don't tell but I'd somehow managed to misplace my chef's knife at work and so, for the last 6 months have been using a cheap Chinese piece of shit which I nabbed from the cupboard at home.
This weekend marks the beginning of my education in Chinese cuisine (YES! I GOT THE JOB!) and wanting to test out my shiny new Japanese knife I went to the local markets and picked up a few simple ingredients. As you know, I'm a bit of a flop when it comes to Asian cuisine so I tried something incredibly simple. Actually, it didn't really require much effort at all on my part aside from a little searing and slicing. Unfortunately I don't know anything about Swiss food either but luckily the things I picked up covered the red and white colour requirements of Red, White or Swiss.
As you can see from the picture I made a simple tuna carpaccio with soy caramel (I told you it was easy!) which took literally 10 minutes from start to finish. I started by first cutting the tuna steak into a rectangular shape for presentation and then setting it in a marinade made with 1/2 cup of soy, 2 tablespoons of castor sugar and a few shards of fresh ginger. I left it in the marinade for about 5 minutes, turning it once halfway. After removing the steak from the marinade, I seared it quickly for 10 seconds per side in a smoking hot pan with a little vegetable oil. I kept the marinade and brought it to 110ºC in a small pot with the ginger shards to make the caramel. I sliced the tuna and lay it on top of a few thin pieces of radish, garnished with some baby coriander and the soy caramel on the side. Voila!
Hopefully the next Asian-inspired recipe I make will be more challenging once I have gained a little knowledge!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I emailed my resume off to a well-known Sydney restaurant on Monday evening and received the call less than 24 hours later. I'm very comfortable with where I am now, too comfortable in fact and will no doubt require a good kick in the pants come decision time. It's always hard to say goodbye to old habits and the all too familiar faces, especially when the alternative breeds fear of the unknown. I'm afraid and very, very nervous. I really have no idea what I'm getting myself into.
The cuisine I'm ashamed to admit, is one that I know very little about despite it being a huge part of my own cultural background. Hopefully we'll be hearing some good words after my trial next Monday. I've left a little hint in the picture above and if you're still wondering, don't worry. You'll find out soon enough!
Monday, July 21, 2008
I've resigned, and it's about time too. This job has been slowly driving me ever so close to teetering on the proverbial brink of insanity. Every single day consists of the same routine. I get up at half past 7, shower, run to the station, ride the train into the city, work from 10 in the morning until 11 at night, go home, sleep and get up again. 5 days a week, sometimes 6. The people I work with.. God don't even get me started! I don't work my ass off so those lazy bums can go out for smoke breaks every 20 minutes. I refuse to respect chefs regardless of skill (or in this case lack thereof) if they cannot give others the same respect and I certainly will not share my recipes with a boss who has never ever bothered to say a simple thank you for all the extra work that we've put in for him.
The season is upon us and it is worse than ever. I tried to deep-fry my chewing gum the other day. I'm wishing now that it was someone's face. Honestly though, I don't know why. It's absolutely riveting when the restaurant is only at half capacity on a Friday night, sport or no sport on telly.
When you think about it, everything can be thrown in the deep-fryer one way or another. The quantity of hot oil in which items are submerged in completely envelops all surfaces to the same degree and provides the most even form of cooking. Of course, depending on what you would consider to be a successful result, the thermostat would have to be adjusted accordingly.
Thinly sliced crisps are best at 140ºC to dehydrate and crispen without fear of burning. Hand cut chips need to be cooked twice to be completely cooked through before being made crunchy with the former being achieved at 150ºC. The latter, along with most other things from the humble fish finger to fancy fried eggs are best done at 180ºC - hot enough so that the oil will not be absorbed into the food but not so high that it will begin to burn.
This is a simple yet incredibly easy recipe for something which seems to have become a 'signature' of sorts. It was one of the dishes featured in the Gourmet Traveller review back in January of this year and despite good quality zucchini flowers being harder to find this time of year, it still has its place on the menu. For the uninitiated, female zucchini flowers are bigger, more beautiful, with less wastage and are easier to clean. Male flowers are a little smaller, have no bulbous stems like their female counterparts but are generally cheaper. When eating flowers, all stigmas, sepals and filaments should be first removed.
60 g cornflour
40 g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
105 ml carbonated water
Combine all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Add a little water at a time, stirring to prevent lumps from forming.
Goats Cheese Mousse
Remove hard rinds and combine all cheeses until soft.
To assemble, place soft cheese mix into a piping bag and fill zucchini flowers. Give each flower a gentle twist to prevent the cheese from escaping. Dip flowers one by one into the tempura batter and immerse in fryer at 180ºC. Remove when crisp and serve drizzled with organic orange blossom honey.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Perhaps you've never heard of mojama (mo-hum-a) de atun. I surely enough didn't have the slightest clue what it was until our fish delivery guy lugged a huge loin of tuna over to the restaurant for a Gourmet Traveller charity dinner and we had to make it ourselves. Basically it's trimmed tuna loin that's salt-cured for 2 days then air-dried, a little like rindless fish bacon. It proved such a hit at the said charity dinner that the dish has earned itself a permanent spot on the menu. Organ donors should be glad to know that their loins are being used for a good cause.
For event number 2 of Tried, Tested and True, I'm providing recipes for the completed dish (assuming that everyone knows how to toast nuts). As pictured above, the mojama is sliced as thinly as possible so that it melts in the mouth. It's served with a creamy avocado puree, fire-roasted pequillo peppers, pickled cauliflower, peeled walnuts and the slightest drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Mojama de Atun
1 loin of tuna
500 g rock salt
500 g castor sugar
5 Tbsp smoked paprika
Trim away any sinew and bloodline from the tuna and discard.
Slice the tuna lengthways into fillets 5-6cm in diameter.
Combine salt, sugar and paprika.
Sprinkle a third of the salt mix onto a tray and lay the tuna loin on top.
Pack the remaining salt around the exposed sides of the tuna and refrigerate.
The salt cure will draw moisture out of the fish and create a brine.
After 24 hours, flip the fillets over and leave for another 24 hours.
Lift the fillets out of the brine and place onto a rack on a clean tray and leave refrigerated for 24 hours. Do not cover. The circulating air will help to dry out and effectively preserve the fish.
At this stage they should have a very dark colouring and be quite firm.
Rinse off the fillets under cold running water to remove the salt cure and pat dry.
Wrap tightly in clingfilm and store in the fridge.
400 ml water
150 ml white wine vinegar
150 ml white wine
50 g castor sugar
50 g salt
10 g white peppercorns
10 g coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch thyme
100 g eschallots, sliced
1 head cauliflower
Place all ingredients except cauliflower in a pot and simmer to infuse aromatics for 10 minutes.
Trim the cauliflower, keeping only the florets for pickling.
Add cauliflower to the pickling liquid and bring to the boil.
Remove from heat immediately and when cool, refrigerate immersed in liquid.
3 ripe avocados
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
Store in fridge with the avocado seeds thrown in to slow down discolouration.
To assemble smear a dollop of avocado puree onto the plate. Caramelise lightly with a blowtorch or salamander (the oven, not the animal). With a sharp knife, slice the cured tuna as thinly as possible and layer this with slivers of fire-roasted pequillo peppers (if you can't get your hands on this excellent Spanish product, substitute with roasted red peppers), a few florets of pickled cauliflower and a few crushed walnuts. To finish, give the tuna a crack of fresh white pepper, a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil and garnish with a few leaves of baby coriander.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I've been working on this sorbet for a little while now. It's always a tedious task to perfect recipes for frozen items. It really doesn't help either when your fucking idiotic boss hands you a packet of instant chestnut that he picked up from the Chinese corner store in Blacktown when he was visiting his mum and tells you to make up a sorbet on the day of the menu change without so much as a recipe in sight.
What a fucking wanker.
Anyway, enough of my ranting. This was supposed to be a submission for Nik Snacks Ice Cream event afterall. For those unfortunate enough to have access to fresh and recently harvested chestnuts instead of foil packaged instant chestnut, you'll just have to make do and substitute the chestnut with real chestnut. You can roast or steam them, whichever is more fitting for your palate. There aren't any rules to remember here except for the basic ratio - 1, 2, 3.
150 g instant chestnut
300 g liquid glucose
450 g milk
a pinch of salt
Heat milk and glucose in a stainless steel pot.
Bring to the boil and add chestnuts and salt.
Remove from heat and leave aside to cool.
Strain and reserve milk.
Puree chestnuts in a food processor and slowly add milk.
Refrigerate until cold then churn.