Kylie Kwong’s Wallaby San choy bao

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Hello everyone,

So sorry for the long delay in posting. I’ve really been struggling to keep up with everything in the last few weeks. I’ve had extra paid work in other places to supplement the business and things just keep popping up that keep me out of the kitchen and away form the keyboard. In responce to this i’m afraid i’m going to have to push the blog to a fortnightly post. It will mostly be recipe posts with some others thrown in sporadically when i finish them. I really like writing the blog and while i’d rather it be a weekly thing I just cannot sustain it… Thanks everyone for your patience and support.

On to this weeks recipe, Wallaby San choy bao. A few weeks ago I was in Sydney and had the opportunity to go to Billy Kwong. Expectations were high but I was still extreamly impressed by Kylie Kwongs cooking, her balancing of native flavours with chinese flavours and technique was dazzling.  We had some exceptional duck in rosella and davidson plum, a wonderful Australian green stirfry, wallaby glass noodles and some excellent salt bush fried dumpling. But the star of the show was almost certainly the wallaby san choy bao. It was bright, it was rich, it was fragrant and the flavours were exemplary. So obviously first chance I got when i came home was to give it a crack.

The recipe I used is from the gourmet traveller website which I will link to at the end of the recipe. While it turned out very tasty, there are definitely some elements of Kylie Kwong’s restaurant recipe that differ from the published one. I suppose i’m just going to have to keep experimenting.  But for now here is the recipe as it is on the website (give or take a few minor changes I made).

Oh and the reason for the discrepancy between the photo with the iceburg lettuce in the ingredient line up and the cos lettuce in the final photo… I made the san choy bao the day after I took the photo and the iceberg lettuce froze… So there is that 🙂IMG_20180904_164317

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 200 gm wallaby fillet, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp julienne ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 160 gm bean sprouts (½ cup)
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into julienne
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 4 small iceberg lettuce leaves, soaked in iced water for 1 hour to crisp, drained well
  • Coriander

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Method

  1. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok over high heat, add wallaby, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute).
  2. Add onion and mushrooms, and stir-fry until beginning to soften (20-30 seconds), then add wine, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil, and stir-fry until wallaby is cooked through (1-2 minutes).
  3. Add sprouts, spring onion, carrot and celery, and toss to combine, then spoon into lettuce cups and serve scattered with coriander sprigs.

I changed the method slightly by allowing the meat to marinade with the wine, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. This was probably unnecessary however as you might lose a little of the true wallaby flavour with this method. Kwong also serves a house made chilli sauce of exceptional quality. I made my own simple chilli sauce (see below)  but for a more authentic experience you might want to buy a good quality szechuan chilli sauce.

 

Chilli sauce:

To make a simple chilli sauce:

Place 2 long red chillies, 2 cloves garlic, 1 inch knob of peeled ginger in a food processor. Add a splash of rice wine and wizz until crushed but still a little chunky.

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Original recipe at: https://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/recipes/chefs-recipes/wallaby-sang-choi-bau-8622

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Strawberry panna cotta with wattleseed toffee shards

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Hello hello hello, lovely people!

This week is our first proper dessert! And of course it is panna cotta! Hands down my favourite dinner party sweet morsel. I happen to love all types of custardy desserts and if I’m going to make a sweet dish I sure better love it. Luckily for me panna cotta is super easy and insanely versatile. You can honestly use just about any sweet ingredient in a panna cotta and even some savoury ones! Naturally, I wanted to use some native flavourings and I settled on strawberry gum and wattleseed for the toffee shards.

Before I go any further, full disclosure… Using strawberry gum in this way is by no means unique. Jock Zonfrillo does a set buffalo curd flavoured with strawberry gum at his restaurant Orana. And it is sublime. This article about Zonfrillo and his restaurant is quite a nice one.

So while I’m not in uncharted territory I want to show you that you don’t have to be a world class chef to show off Aussie ingredients, you just need to shamelessly plagiarise their ideas.

A few more notes on the recipe.

  • I use vanilla essence because vanilla beans are expensive and to be honest the strawberry gum flavour is going to override the vanilla anyway, so just a little touch of the essence gives it some balance.
  • I made one in a greased mould to turn out and serve. I usually don’t bother and simply serve it in the pot with some decoration on top.
  • As mentioned you can alter the sugar to suit your taste. I recommend starting with 80g and tasting the mix before continuing.

 

Panna cotta

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups cream

1 ½ cups milk

2 ½ tsp gelatin

80–100g white sugar (adjust for your personal sweetness preference)

1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 tbsp Strawberry gum

1/3 tsp salt

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Method:

  1. Place cream and 1 cup of milk in a pot. Heat until the first whisps of steam come off (don’t boil!).
  2. Add strawberry gum and vanilla pod (or essence) and let sit for 1 hour.IMG_20180809_213931
  3. Grease some panna cotta molds, small cups, anything really.
  4. Strain cream mix to get rid of large pieces of strawberry gum and vanilla pod (if using). Add sugar and salt to cream and reheat until just steaming again, stirring to mix in the sugar
  5. Meanwhile place remaining ½ cup milk into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the milk to blume.
  6. Once milk is hot take it off the heat and quickly stir in gelatin milk mix.
  7. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally.
  8. Pour into pre-greased moulds (or just dishes or cups to be eaten straight out of).
  9. Cover tightly with beeswax covers or plastic so the panna cotta don’t absorb fridge smell. Let set for at least 4 hours. The longer you let it set, the firmer it will get; I like them quite firm.
  10. If turning out of moulds: place an inch of hot water in a pan. Sit the panna cotta mold in the hot water for 5 seconds and remove. Place a plate or dish across the top of the panna cotta and flip quickly and decisively.
  11. Decorate how you want!IMG_20180810_130057IMG_20180810_125942

 

Wattleseed toffee

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp wattleseed

 

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Method:

  1. Mix sugar and water in a saucepan, cover a tray with some baking paper or foil, have wattle seed on hand.
  2. Heat sugar and water on low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Turn heat up to medium high and boil sugar until it turns a light caramel colour (6-8 min).
  4. Pour caramel onto baking tray, quickly tilt baking tray this way and that to form an even sheet.
  5. Working fast, sprinkle the wattle seed on to the caramel before it sets to toffee.IMG_20180810_123429
  6. Allow to cool (minimum 20 min) and then smack with a hammer or rolling pin to break into shards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Native Food Pioneers

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Hey gang,

Had a hard time coming up with something to talk about this week, just wasn’t feeling it. So I’ve decided to make a short list of other native food pioneers and luminaries in Australia. Some you will already know, others you might not have heard of. This will be nowhere near a complete list and I’m looking forward to learning about more people working in the field as I continue this little adventure.

 

Something Wild:

Based in Central Market Adelaide, Something Wild is a unique store selling some absolutely amazing products. The have fresh herbs and vegetables, a range of meats in both sausage and unprocessed forms and they are the only place I’ve ever found selling Magpie Goose! They are also the madmen responsible for green ant gin. Try it, super tasty!

http://www.somethingwild.com.au/

 

Mark Olive:

Mark Olive has been a familiar face on Australian cooking tv for decades. He has been a pioneer in championing Native indigenous Australian food and making it acceptable for an Aussie palate. Though he is laying low these days doing more talks and corporate gigs you’ll still see him on TV from time to time.

http://www.blackolive.net.au/

 

Orana and Jock Zonfrillo

Another Adelaide based business , Orana, is an excellent restaurant doing some of the most creative and well crafted dishes ,not just using ,but highlighting native ingredients. I ate there in March and It stands up as some of the best fine dining I’ve had in Australia (I could eat crocodile consume for DAYS). If this is all too rich for your blood they also run Blackwood Bistro (directly under Orana) which also uses native foods but in a more international way.

Zonfrillo also runs a foundation that is working to catalogue as much detail about as many native foods as possible. Very much worth checking out

 

http://restaurantorana.com/

http://theoranafoundation.org/

 

Kylie Kwong

Kwong is something of an Australian cooking icon up there with Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander. Her restaurant Billy Kwong is a Sydney institution and has opened the door for Chinese food to be treated as fine dining. Recently she has been doing a lot of work with native ingredients. She is passionate about bringing these ingredients to the fore so if you live in Sydney or find yourself there you must give it a go!

http://billykwong.com.au/

 

That’s all for this week, there are so many more for you to discover but I’ll save it for another day.

 

Have a great week, see you next week with a new recipe!

 

Emu Rissoles

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Recipe time again! And this time it’s something special indeed. Rissoles are as Aussie as two up, meat pies and goon sacks. It is a food immortalized in the quintessentially Australian film “The Castle”; Sal Kerrigan’s bashful supposition that “everyone cooks rissoles” shows just how iconic they are . They are the Australian equivalent of American meatloaf or Turkish kofta. And yet they are not celebrated as unique, because they are seemingly so common place. What a tragedy.

After extensive research (Wikipedia) I’ve discovered that the word rissole is etymologically French but a French rissole is a pear based pastry dessert. Rissoles as we know them seem to be a Portuguese invention, although they are often crumbed and fried. How we, half a world away, came to call these marvellous mixes of meat, veggies and seasonings ‘rissoles’ is a mystery.

As I’ve mentioned before, Emu can be found online or at some specialty butchers. You could also use kangaroo mince for this with great results.  You can also add extra seasonings such as soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce but I chose to keep mine simple to bring out the full emu taste. Native Eats roo rub will be available in the next month on the stalls and hopefully soon after online. Keep an eye out.

 

Ingredients

450g Emu

1 to 1-1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs, lightly whisked

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup grated onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 small mushrooms, finely diced

1/2 cup chopped choy sum, spinach or kale

1 tablespoon Native Eats kangaroo rub herb blend

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon white pepper

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Method:

  1. Place emu mince in a large bowl. Place all vegetables and the herb mix in and combine well with your hands until fully mixed together

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  2. Add breadcrumbs and lightly whisked eggs, mix well again until all is incorporated.
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  4. Flatten mix to the sides of the bowl and add salt in an even layer across the top. Add pepper and mix in well

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  5. Allow to rest for 30min-1hr in the fridge to allow the salt, breadcrumb and eggs to do their combining magic. (The salt breaks down protein in the meat, the eggs add more sticky protein and the breadcrumbs swell and hold everything together)
  6. Form into rissoles by taking about 1/4 cup mi  in your hand, shape it into a ball and throw from one hand to the other slapping them into shape. This slapping helps remove large air bubbles which cause the rissoles to break apart. Place on baking tray.

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  7. Bake for 30-40 min on 120c to cook all the way through. Remove from oven.
  8.  (At this point the rissoles can be frozen for a quick dinner in the future. Just defrost and finish in the pan.)
  9. Heat pan to quite hot with 1 teaspoon oil

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  10. Fry rissoles for about 4 min on each side until nicely coloured.
  11. Serve with tomato ketchup or chutney, mixed veg, salad, mash potato and gravy or whatever!

SEE YA ROUND LIKE A RISSOLE.

 

 

Ingredient profile: Warrigal greens

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For our first ingredient profile let’s start with one of my absolute favourites: Warrigal greens!

 

History, etymology and traditional uses: The small triangular leafed plant is known by many names due to its vast endemic region, which stretches from parts of south Asia to New Zealand, but in Australia ‘Warrigal green’ seems to be the one that has stuck. The term Warrigal green may be a bastardisation of the Dharug word for wild dog (warrigal) which became a catch-all phrase for something wild.

Interestingly they were not much used by the native population in either Australia or New Zealand. They found culinary use with the British explorers, who ate some and pickled more to ward off scurvy, and later the colonists for whom fresh vegetables were not always guaranteed.

Warrigal greens don’t mind salty soil and as such they grow primarily on the coastline or by salt marshes. The plant is closely related to pig-face (karkala) and has the same slightly chewy/crunchy texture when raw.

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Uses: Its primary use is similar to that of cooked spinach. The flavour is a little more intense than spinach but still mild enough to use in almost every cuisine. It can be made into pesto, put into curries or stir fries, used in pies, quiche or other baked goods or even used as dumpling filling. Basically anywhere you would use a mild green (Chinese greens, cabbage, spinach), Warrigal greens fit nicely.

For some more uses check out my recipes for:

Warrigal green and lemon myrtle risotto

Hand-rolled agnolotti with ricotta, warrigal green and saltbush

Saa-g’day Paneer

Wallaby and Warrigal green dumplings

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Where to get it/ how to grow it: Warrigal greens are a hardy perennial ground cover. I bought a little plant at Kuranga Native Nursery in Dandenong, Victoria and planted it in a big pot. I’ve honestly given it almost no love at all and still it thrived right up to mid winter, though it’s starting to look a little sad now. It doesn’t mind sandy soil but if you can get your hands on the native soil mix that is preferred. You can buy the leaves to eat but it’s expensive and given how easy it is to grow I’d recommend getting a plant. If you want to grow from seed try https://www.theseedcollection.com.au/Warrigal-Greens or https://www.4seasonsseeds.com.au/New-Zealand-Spinach-Warragul-Greens.

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IMPORTANT: Warrigal greens contain moderate levels of oxalate (or oxalic acid) and therefore must be blanched for at least one minute then rinsed to bring the plant into a more normal oxalate range. Before you start freaking out, oxalic acid is in a wide range of vegetables, including tea, parsley and brassicas such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. As long as you blanch them they are safe and delicious.

 

 

warrigal (impoved)

 

 

 

Crocodile and barramundi laksa

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Is there anything more conforting than laksa? Probably, if you hate spicy. But I love spicy! If my spirit animal were a food, it would be laksa. Think about what you get. Soup noodle! Spice! Coconut milk! Fried eggplant! Your choice of protein! Brilliant!

For those of you who aren’t so familiar, curry laksa (also known as nyonya laksa) is a curry noodle soup hailing from Malaysia. There are quite a few variations of laksa not only in Malaysia but also in Singapore. But the the variation we are most familiar with in Australia is simply known as curry laksa and is distiquished by the addition of plenty of  coconut cream. Laksa is unique in that it features methods from 3 culinary cultures: noodle soups are primarily chinese, the curry spice is Indian influenced but also contains some native Malay ingredients. It is a hearty meal, eaten anytime on the streets of Malaysia.

Malaysian laksa will usually combine some form of chicken with fresh seafood, fishcakes and tofu. For my Aussie version I’ve used crocodile and barramundi. If you could get your hands on some native basil that would go bonza in the soup too. As for the paste I love the Osha brand stuff. Closest I’ve found yet to restaurant strength laksa flavour.

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This is the one! Find it at http://www.myasiangrocer.com.au/osha-curry-laksa-paste-180g/

Ingredients for 2 people

200g Hokkien noodle

100g dried rice noodle

200g crocodile meat, poached (see method)

150g barramundi

1/2 (200g) fried eggplant (I just cubed the eggplant and shallow fried it in the oil the barramundi was cooked in)

1 bok choy

6 curry leaves

4 squares of fried tofu (optional)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 jar (90g) Laksa curry paste.

Fried or fresh shallots for topping (optional)

 

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Method

To poach the croc:

  1. Choose a pan or pot that the croc can be fully submerged in. Cover with water and put on high heat on stove. (You can also add other ingredients such as curry leaves and/or peppercorns here, but I was in a rush.)
  2. When JUST starting to boil, turn down until only the occational bubble rises.
  3. Poach this way for 10 min, remove croc and check it is cooked (it moves from translucent to opaque, much like chicken). If it’s still a little shiny, cook for 3-5 more minutes.

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You can skim the scum off at this point if you wish

 

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To cook the barramundi:

  1. Cut barra fillet into 1 1/2 inch slices. Coat with rice/besan/potato flour, pushing the fish firmly into the flour to promote a good crust.
  2. Heat a 20cm pan about 1/3 full of oil until hot. (To test pan temp, chuck a tiny amount of flour into the oil. If it starts to sizzle more or less immediately, you’re good to go. Fry for 3 minutes each side.

 

To put it all together

  1. Boil the kettle, place noodles in a bowl or pot big enough so that they can be submerged.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot over a medium heat. Add curry leaves and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add curry paste to hot pan and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes (if not using curry leaves, just heat curry past in a dry pan).IMG_20180701_133054
  3. Add stock, stir well, bring back to the boil, turn right down. Throw tofu into soup to warm.

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    Bad photo soz. It’s stock.
  4. Pour boiled water onto noodles, leave for 3 minutes. Drain and place in warmed serving bowls.
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  5. Arrange croc, barra, eggplant, tofu and bok choy on top of the noodles. NOTE: At this point if you have cold precooked ingredients you can reheat them in the simmering soup before placing them on the bowl of noodles.
  6. Add coconut cream to soup and stir well.IMG_20180701_133846
  7. Taste for seasoning and pour soup into completed bowls.
  8. Garnish with fresh/fried shallots and serve.

 

Aussie food and 80’s nostalgia

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Hi gang,

I’m in Newcastle this week for a friend’s wedding. While searching for a book in my old cupboard I came across this gem from Kraft foods, the Every Aussie Kid’s Cookbook published in 1987. As adverts masquerading as cookbooks go it’s fairly fun! I don’t remember if we ever made anything from it (I have vague memories of attempting Kookie-burras) but it’s a somewhat clever little kids’ cook book that makes good use of the shape of various ingredients to make amusing (if not particularly nutritious) food.

I feel like these types of food creation were a particularly 80’s phenomenon. Probably the best known incarnation of this love of food structure is the famous Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.

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As a kid I use to leaf through this and dream of the wonders within. You can get a typewriter cake! A swimming pool! A train!!!! This kind of creativity with ingredients is a bit naff now but it kind of fit with the time. Massive amounts of sugar, frosting and decoration using chocolate and lollies: what a golden age.

I find this book so nostalgic for a number of reasons. Primarily it’s the fun 1980’s visuals, a kind of slapstick silliness that marked my childhood. Part of it is also a nostalgia for a time when processed cheese on a slice of bread was considered a legitimate snack, where as nowadays we (rightly) see it as a nutritional vacuum and culinary abomination. Just because we know better doesn’t mean I don’t miss the blissful ignorance.

 

But looking at the book provokes plenty of modern day concerns: the heavy use of processed foods, the questionable portrayal of native people in the book and the fact that “every Aussie kid” is a white kid. No Asians, Africans, not even any swarthy Europeans. Revisiting this book is a difficult mix of acknowledging my childhood, while acknowledging how blinkered our idea of ‘Australian’ was back then (and still is).

I’m still going to make the Ned Kelly though.

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Sausage and melted cheese. Priceless