As the cold days make way for some warmth, enhance the robust flavours of winter with a dash of springtime vibrancy.
Right now is the time to revel in the fresh flavours of spring, with all the new season produce filling the shelves of our shops. Check out the Lady William apples, avocados, the wonderful asparagus, navel oranges and leeks – all produce I get excited about!
On a recent trip to Broome, the pearling and tourist town found some 2200km north of Perth, I was excited to be handed a beautiful threadfin salmon. This is a northern Australian fish found in waters from WA to Qld. They are an excellent table fish, with tender white flesh and low in oil. They are also known as king salmon and giant threadfin.
I wanted to produce a true taste of the tropics with this amazing fish and so I poached it in a mixture of Matso’s Ginger Beer and a combination of aromatics.
The result was stunning! Sweet, hot and quite delicious, especially when partnered with a warm tomato and olive salad and served on a delicate fennel purée. Matso’s brewery is a true Broome treasure and well worth searching out.
A great starter is my beetroot Carpaccio with fresh goat’s curd, rocket and walnuts. Prepare the beetroot for cooking by trimming the leaves and stalk, but leaving about 4cm of stem. Also leave the thin root intact and do not peel the beets, as this causes them to bleed. Choose evenly-sized beets and boil in salted water until quite tender. Remove and cool, then remove the skins using gloved fingers.
Fresh tuna is special any time and the golden rule when cooking tuna is to serve the centre of the flesh rare. Just season and sear the outside quickly, which will lock in all the moisture. In this recipe, I wrap the tuna portions in basil leaves and steam them for two minutes. Circle with a delicate salad and finish with a light Asian dressing.
Who could resist a bowl of light, delicate Japanese soba noodles, especially when teamed with grilled pork fillets and a spicy garlic sauce? Or for something a little more serious, try the slow braised beef cheeks. Slowly braise them for at least four hours and you’ll be rewarded with one of life’s simple pleasures.
It’s also pineapple season and we should all eat more fruit, so for a tangy, sweet and rich course, combine crêpes with the grilled pineapple, a little caramel sauce and crisp, sweet potato crisps. I use a vegetable peeler on the sweet potato to make thin slices, and then bake them slowly until golden and crisp. Simply finish with a dusting of icing sugar and present on a portion of cream.
Matso’s Ginger Beer poached threadfin salmon
A true taste of the tropics with a little sweetness, hot with ginger and delicious. Ensure when poaching that the poaching liquid does not boil, so look for a ‘gentle’ movement of the liquid.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Combine all the above ingredients in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.
Warm tomato and olive salad
In a heated saucepan, add the olive oil and crushed garlic. Cook for 20 seconds then add the onions. Cook for several minutes until just turning brown, then add the vinegar. Stir for one minute, then toss in the capsicum slices, roughly chopped tomatoes and olives. Cook gently for five minutes, season, then add the basil and parsley at the last minute.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the fennel. Sweat the fennel until soft but do not allow it to colour. Add the wine, boil and reduce until half the wine has evaporated. Add the cream and reduce the same way.
Remove the fennel and place in a blender, purée to a smooth paste. Keep the poaching liquid that’s in the saucepan.
Place the poaching liquid into a suitably-sized pan and bring to a simmer. Add the fish portions and poach until just done. Present on a warm plate with the fennel purée and some of the warm tomato and olive salad.
Beetroot Carpaccio with goat’s curd, rocket and walnuts
This is a great way to start a meal with bold flavours and a range of contrasting textures. For the freshest flavours, buy walnuts whole in the shell and crack them open yourself.
Wash beetroots, trim the stalks leaving 1cm of stem and leave root as is. Place the beetroots in cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer until the beetroots are cooked – this takes between 45 minutes and an hour.
Remove beetroots from heat and cool in cold water. Refrigerate until required.
Peel beetroots and carefully slice very thinly. Use a V-slicer or a mandolin. Arrange beetroot slices attractively on a plate, overlapping the slices in a fan shape.
Gently toss together the orange segments, diced apple, rocket and chopped walnuts. Combine together the lemon juice, olive oil, sesame oil and the seasoning. Fold through the rocket mix and place neatly onto the centre of the beetroot slices.
Position three teaspoons of the goat’s curd onto each plate and serve.
Basil-wrapped tuna with radish salad and soy dressing
The basil leaves are blanched for only two seconds then chilled immediately. This will give them a beautifully rich green colour and make them easier to work with.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Season the tuna all over with the Sansho pepper and salt flakes.
Plunge the larger picked basil leaves into boiling water for two seconds, remove quickly and place into ice water. Drain, dry and carefully wrap around the tuna portions. To do this, place three leaves down on a board, then place three more slightly above it, but overlapping. Add another three and three more. You should now have used 12 leaves.
Cut the tuna to the thickness of two fingers and about the same length. Each should weigh around 75g. Place the tuna down on the basil leaves closest to you and roll up.
Combine together the olive oil, soy, lime juice and sesame oil to make the dressing.
Place the picked lettuce leaves in a neat circle around the plate and scatter with the red sliced radish and diced cucumber.
Steam the wrapped tuna for two minutes only, but do not cook, only heat. Top the salad with two pieces of tuna and finish with the dressing.
Slow-braised beef cheeks
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Finely chop together two cloves of garlic, one packed cup of parsley and the zest from one lemon.
Set the oven to 150°C. Season and dust the beef cheeks with flour. Place into a preheated pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and brown well on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Heat a heavy braising pan, adding the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic and bacon fat. Stir well and cook for several minutes, then add in the eschalots. Brown slightly, and then add in the thyme leaves, celery, carrots and mushrooms.
When lightly browned, push the mix to the sides and add the tomato paste to the cleared middle of the pan. Stir well and fry for 30 seconds.
Add in the red wine and stir well to loosen all the sediments on the bottom. Combine in the tomatoes, stock and crushed juniper berries.
Place the browned beef cheeks into the sauce, cover and place into the oven. Cook slowly for two-and-a-half hours, or until tender.
Present a beef cheek onto a portion of creamy mashed potato topped with a teaspoon of the gremolata.
Cold pork slices with soba noodles and garlic sauce
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Combine together the raw pork slices, spring onions, ginger, rice wine and olive oil. Pre-heat a grill pan and quickly grill on both sides until just cooked. Keep warm until required.
Combine together the garlic, soy, mirin, sugar and chilli oil. Toss in the noodles, coat well and place neatly onto plates. Top with the pork slices and garnish with the coriander sprigs and capsicum curls.
Crêpes with grilled pineapple, caramel sauce and crisp, sweet potato crisps
Place the milk into a mixing bowl and add the sugar and plain flour. Beat together well and add the melted butter and eggs. Strain and allow to stand for one hour.
Heat a good heavy non-stick pan with a little melted butter. Add a small ladle of the crêpe batter and spread evenly around by tilting the pan. When it turns golden, carefully turn over and cook the other side. Remove and hold until required.
Combine together in a saucepan the cream and butter and bring to a boil. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla extract, then boil again. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Heat a ribbed grill pan and brush with the melted butter. Grill the pineapple on both sides and set aside.
Sweet potato crisps
Peel one small sweet potato, then cut thin slices using the peeler. Place slices onto a baking-paper-lined oven tray, top with another sheet of baking paper and place another tray on top. Bake at 160°C for one hour, and then remove the top tray and paper. Return to the oven and cook until dry and crisp, then remove from oven and cool. Store in an airtight container.
To assemble, place two folded crêpes onto a plate. Drizzle some caramel sauce onto the crêpes and top with the pineapple. Finish with a portion of whipped cream and a sweet potato chip, dusted with a little icing sugar.