gourmet

As winter finally gives way to spring, food-lovers in Australia will enjoy the availability of the new season’s produce. Always try and source your fresh meat and produce locally and always buy “in season” to ensure the freshest flavours possible. This will also result in lower costs as the supplies will be in abundance.

One of the foods I have featured that appears in spring is asparagus. It’s low in sodium, high in potassium and is a food that keeps the arteries healthy because it’s rich in folic acid. Simply steam lightly to maintain its full flavour and slight crunch.

In the recipes in this issue, I have included a fabulous entrée of asparagus and chopped egg with parmesan and wasabi sauce, a wonderful combination that just explodes with spring flavours. The asparagus is also featured in a barbecued vegetable combination finished with a warm ginger dressing.

A quick and easy choice for the kids is the roast duck and sugar snap wrap. And for those of us that love the finer things in life, I’ve listed the perfect layout for sashimi using yellowfin tuna. I have included another yellow fin tuna recipe that is simply small skewered portions rolled lightly in spices and seared on all sides for only one minute. That’s presented with a classic Indonesian Gado Gado salad.

For those of us that love quick and easy pastas, here’s one that does not have tomato or cream as a base sauce. But instead I use extra virgin olive oil flavoured with garlic, anchovies and fresh chilli, finished with cubes of grilled coral trout, semi dried tomatoes, steaming hot spaghetti and parsley.

I finish with a simple dessert using the tropical Corella pear gently poached in a saffron flavoured liquid. This variety of pear is slightly smaller than most other pears, has very little core and consists mostly of edible flesh.

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Sashimi

Sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish that consists of thinly sliced raw fish. It is mostly served with soy, pickled ginger and wasabi and a separate bowl to combine to suit your taste.

It’s often presented as the first course in a traditional Japanese restaurant. Traditionally, it’s eaten with chop sticks where the finer quality of the flesh can be appreciated.

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The fatty belly cut of the tuna is called ‘Toro’ and has a beautifully even and light colour, and is the most sought after and prized cut.

Finely shredded daikon radish is served with sashimi, and a common garnish is shiso or perilla leaves. A delicious dressing is soy, olive oil, sesame seeds and several snipped chives.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: zero

Serves: 4

  • 400g sashimi grade yellow fin tuna
  • 2 tblsp wasabi paste
  • 4 tblsp Japanese soy
  • 2 tblsp pickled ginger

Using a dry and clean cutting board, cut the tuna into even 8mm slices and place onto a chilled serving platter.

Select 3 bowls of equal size and place the remaining ingredients into each separate bowl. Present a set of chop sticks and a small side plate to each person and serve immediately.

 

Barbecued vegetables

This is a great vegetarian choice: a whole assortment of vegetables, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and flame-grilled to perfection. The ingredients in the dressing are Asian based and are warmed up before being poured directly onto the warm vegetables.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 bunch green asparagus, lightly peeled and trimmed
  • 2 baby fennel bulbs, washed and quartered
  • 1 red capsicum, quartered and trimmed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, halved and eye removed
  • 2 baby bok choy, halved
  • 1 punnet baby corn
  • 60ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • salt flakes and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 2 tblsp grated fresh ginger
  • 4 tblsp Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tblsp lime juice
  • 2 tblsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 tblsp mirin

Combine all the dressing ingredients into a small saucepan. Warm gently and set aside until required.

Brush all the prepared vegetables with the olive oil and season well. Place onto a pre-heated open-flame grill and cook until brown grill marks appear on both sides.

Place into a bowl and pour the warm ginger dressing over all the vegetables making sure they all get coated well. Present warm as a sharing platter at the table.

 

Grilled yellowfin tuna with Gado Gado

In this recipe, the tuna is coated with a delicious spice blend and seared for only a minute on each side. It’s presented with Gado Gado, a classic dish from Indonesia, made from a combination of steamed, boiled and raw vegetables, flavoured with a spicy peanut sauce.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 6 x 150g yellowfin tuna portions, cut into 2 batons each and skewered
  • 2 tblsp Screaming Seeds 7 Seas Spice blend
  • 4 tblsp Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • salt flakes, to taste
  • 2 cups blanched bean sprouts (pour over boiling water, then strain)
  • 1 cup blanched (par cooked) green beans, cut into 50mm lengths
  • 2 large potatoes, steamed and sliced 5 mm thick
  • 2 cups Napa (Chinese) cabbage, cut into 20mm squares, blanched
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 green cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ½ bunch spring onions, cut into 20mm lengths
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 cup Kokita Gado Gado (peanut sauce)

Place all the Gado Gado ingredients into a large mixing bowl and pour over some of the peanut sauce. Combine gently but well, and present on a serving plate.

Coat the skewered tuna portions with a mixture of 7 Seas spice, olive oil and salt.

Grill on an oiled barbecue plate for 1 minute only on each side and present with the Gado Gado.

 

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Asparagus with chopped egg, wasabi and shaved parmesan on grilled sour dough

This is a quick and easy treat, and a delicious combination of parmesan, asparagus and wasabi. By steaming the asparagus for only two minutes, you achieve a crunchy texture and maintain a vibrant green colour.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 12 green asparagus spears
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
  • 4 slices, sour dough bread
  • 50ml Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tblsp S&B wasabi sauce
  • 1 shallot (green onion) sliced
  • salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Brush the sour dough slices with the extra virgin olive oil and grill over an open flame until golden and score marks appear on both sides.

Peel and trim the asparagus spears to size and plunge into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into iced water to chill, then drain and set aside.

Place a sour dough slice onto a serving plate and top with three asparagus spears. Sprinkle some of the chopped egg onto the spears and squeeze a little wasabi sauce over the top.

Finish with some parmesan cheese shavings and a scattering of sliced shallots.

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Chinese roast duck and sugar snap wraps

Buy your roast duck directly from a Chinese barbecue restaurant and slice off what you need. Wash and trim the ends of the sugar snap peas and keep them raw so they add crunch to this delicious wrap.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2

  • 4 sheets corn bread
  • 2 tblsp mayonnaise
  • 2 cups green oak lettuce
  • 4 long 1 cm thick cucumber strips
  • ½ tomato, cut into half slices
  • ½ cup sliced Chinese roast duck
  • 12 sugar snap peas
  • ¼ cup crispy fried shallots
  • salt flakes and cracked pepper, to taste

Lay down two sheets of the corn bread, one on top of the other, and spread with the mayonnaise. Spread the lettuce leaves down the middle and top with the cucumber, tomatoes, Chinese pork, sugar snaps, crispy shallots and a little seasoning.

Roll up tightly and cut the two rolls in half. Wrap each portion with a sleeve of grease-proof paper and tie securely with a piece of string.

 

Pan-tossed Calabrian style coral trout

This is a traditional spicy fish recipe from Bangkok. The lotus leaves help retain moisture and add a subtle flavour to the fish. Very aromatic and fabulous when served with steamed rice at a barbecue or as part of a dinner party. Banana* or bamboo leaves work equally well and can be purchased at Asian grocery stores.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 400g coral trout pieces
  • 500g fresh spaghetti
  • 1⁄3 cup Jingilli extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves organic garlic
  • ½ small red chilli, chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • ½ cup soft semi-dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt flakes and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the fresh spaghetti into a large pan of salted, rapidly boiling water and cook until just al dente.

In a moderately-heated flat saucepan, add the olive oil, anchovy fillets, chilli and the garlic. Cook gently for 3 minutes until the olive oil becomes fragrant and the anchovy fillets have almost dissolved. Use the back of a spoon to break apart and mash the anchovies.

Throw in the fresh fish pieces and heat gently until almost cooked.

Add the hot cooked spaghetti and fold through the fish mix and add the dried tomatoes and parsley. Check for seasoning and serve straight away.

 

Kataifi pastry nests with saffron poached pears

This is a great dessert, combining oven-baked crispy bird nest pastry with sweet rich pears poached in apple juice and Moroccan spices.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

  • ½ packet Kataifi pastry
  • 50g melted butter
  • 6 Corella pears
  • For the syrup:

  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 600ml apple juice
  • 1 small cinnamon quill
  • ½ split vanilla bean
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 small pinch saffron

Heat oven to 180°C. Unroll the Kataifi pastry carefully and place a small amount onto a board. Roll up into a small bird’s nest shape and place into a muffin tray. Make 6 of these and brush the tops with the melted butter. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Boil the ingredients for the syrup and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the hot syrup onto the bird’s nests and let cool.

Peel and core the pears, then place in fresh water with a little added lemon juice until ready to poach.

Boil together the caster sugar, apple juice and the four listed spices. Add in the pears and gently poach until just soft. Remove the pears and boil the poaching syrup until reduced by one third. Cool, then add the pears and refrigerate until required.

To present, place a pastry bird’s nest onto a plate. Top with a pear. Add half a strawberry, several blueberries and finish with a little syrup.

 

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