The Last Supper Market with the Banh Mi Boys@Abbotsford Convent

Come down and check out the Banh Mi Boys at the Abbotsford Convent tomorrow! Its the last one for this summer and a beautiful day to finish of a fabulous summer.

The Banh Mi Boys will be dishing out our usually Bangin’ Banh Mis along with salads, Rockin’ Rice Paper Rolls.


Cooking the perfect steak – 600 grams of succulent rib-eye (prime rib)

The ageless debate of cooking the perfect steak…I’ll give you my opinion but the results will speak for themselves.

Over the weekend I was with a good friend and a fellow Masterchef contestant checking out the meat drying rooms that have recently been installed at the Prahran market. Prahran market is now home to not one but two meat drying aging rooms; Gary’s Quality Meats and Hagen’s Organic Meats (where I bought my lovely piece of dry-aged organic rib eye).

The most important part about cooking a perfect steak is to bring the meat up to room temperature. You want to leave the meat hanging out on the bench for around an hour; this will bring the internal temperature of the meat up to about the same as the external part.

From there you want to salt generously all round, cover the whole piece of meat in salt, and pepper if you a fan (as illustrated above). The salt will help with the caramelisation process by drawing the moisture out to make the fat nice and crispy, drizzle a touch of oil to help lubricate the meat and you are ready to grill…mmmmmmm crispy fat!

Once you have seasoned your meat, a 600 gram monster rib eye (a mini roast in effect) will require 4 minutes of grilling on each side, 2 minutes each way if you have a nice griddle to create gorgeous looking cross hatches. After you flame grill your steak, you want to throw it into the oven for 8 minutes (the same amount of time on the grill).The result will be a perfectly cooked medium rare steak, you can go a few minutes less for rare and a few minutes more for well done. 

Remember to rest your steak for the roughly the same amount of time as you cooked it. I know its very tempting to cook your delectable piece of perfectly cooked steak straight away but its worth the wait. I rested my mine for about 15 minutes. 

On this particular occasion, I served my steak with baby beets those throw honey and truffle butter with a hint of cinnamon.

Et voila, c’est pret (and there it is, ready!)

Let me know how you go.

Vietnamese Crab and Squid Salad

This light and tasty summer salad is always a hit whenever I make it. I was lucky enough to make it on a beautiful yacht last week. I used crab meat and squid with this version but you can leave either out depending on your taste and what is available.

What you will need 
The Salad 
2 tubes of squid
500g of crab meat 

1/2 cucumber (thinly julienned) 
1 mango (chopped into small chunks)
300g of bean shoots 

3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves (finely chiffonade) 
A good helping of mint and coriander for garnishing 

The dressing 
2 tablespoon of fish sauce 
1 tablespoon of palm sugar (melted) 
1 bird’s eye chilli (finely chopped) 
dash of white pepper to taste 
The juice of 2 limes 
3 tablespoons of water

  1. Place your crab meat and marinate in a bit of lime juice and fish sauce 
  2. Score your squid tubes and cut into 2cm by 3cm rectangular pieces 
  3. Pour tablespoon of oil in a pan and sear the squid pieces, being careful not to overcook the squid ( if you forget about your squid it will become tough like boots) 
  4. Start by layering your bean shoots, cucumber and mango to your liking
    Place the crab and squid over your vegetables 
  5. Generously place the garnishing of kaffir lime leaves and coriander over your salad 
  6. Mix all the ingredients of your sauces together and pour over your salad 
  7. Give your salad a good toss before serving! 

You are ready to roll with your beautifully colourful and delicious crab and squid salad! Let me know what you guys think and whether you have suggestions.

63°C Eggs – how to dress up a humble egg

On my recent to Sydney I had the pleasure of travelling out to the suburbs of Sydney to cook with Niccooks. It was fabulous to see her set up of humidifier and sous vide equipment. While shopping and deciding on what to cook, I saw the opportunity to play around with sous vide and take full advantage of the equipment I had at my disposal. We decided to make 3 courses using sous vide techniques; one of which was 63°C eggs inspired by Bentley’s and Nic. Nic suggested we serve our slow cooked eggs with asparagus but I had an idea that was a little more left field, corn with bacon, capers and crispy anchovies…it was a little breakfast mixed with lunch.

I know the combination sounds weird but it exceeded both Nic’s and my expectations. The egg was a velvety texture, both yolk and white and the saltiness of the anchovy, capers and bacon brought out the sweetness of the home grown free range eggs, corn and onion. So here’s how you can re-create our velvety, visually stunning egg.

You will need around 90 minutes and the following ingredients:
1 egg per serving (we cooked 4)

Warm corn salsa

What you will need

  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • a rash of finely diced bacon/lardon
  • 1 teaspoon of capers
  • 1 large cob with the kennels shaved off
  • 5 or 6 smashed up crispy asian anchovies
  • 1/4 wedge of lime
This recipe is really simple.

1. Using a cooking thermometer bring a saucepan with enough water to sufficiently cover 4 eggs to 63°C. Carefully place the eggs in the water, lowering each in with a spoon. Cook the eggs for 90 minutes making sure you maintain the temperature at 63°C and serve straight away.

2. While the eggs are cooking, start your bacon/lardon on a small cold pan and slowly bring up to heat. This will ensure that the fat is rendered, the bacon will be crispy and plenty of that bacon fat will be available to infuse flavour into your corn.

3. Once your bacon is rendered and begins to crisp up add a dash of olive oil/butter and sweat your diced onions at a low heat (we don’t want to brown the onions). Introduce your corn once your onions start to cook and throw in your capers. Fry up your salsa until the corn changes from a light yellow colour to a deep yellow; this is a clear indication that your corn is cooked…Taste to check. Finish with a squeeze of lime and mix through well.

4. For assembly, place the salsa mix on the bottom. Carefully break open your delicate egg by opening the top half (the half without the yolk) and pour the egg out. It should stay intact if cooked correctly. Smash the anchovies roughly in a pestle and mortar and place on top in a line (as pictures). Finish off a good helping of salt and pepper directly on the egg.

et Voila!

Orange Tea Smoked Salmon, Carrot Puree, Crispy Skin and Frizzle

I hadn’t smoked anything in a while and had a nice piece of fresh salmon sitting in the fridge last Sunday. So I hatched a plan to smoke some salmon and for something a little different, I also decided to smoke some prawns. I thought the flavours would go well with a carrot puree and an orange and frizzle salad. Indeed the combination made for a tasty and colourful dish.

You will need 45 minutes and the following: 

  • 150-200g piece of salmon fillet per person (measurements are for one portion)
  • 3 large prawns
  • 3 tablespoons of soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • the juice of half an orange
  • 2 tablespoons of Lapsang Sou Chong (chinese smoked tea)
  • the rind of a whole orange (grated)
  • wok, stand and steamer/smoking plate (anything with holes to allow permeation of smoke)
  • 2 sticks of carrots for the puree
  • 100mls of full thickened cream (non this light stuff, if you are eating cream you might as well go the whole 9 yards)
  • 2 hand full of frizzle salad leaves
  • half an orange
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • a handful of pistachios
1. Remove the skin of your salmon and set aside (smoked skin is not really a great texture). Marinate your salmon piece in the soya, salt, orange juice and balsamic mixture; usually before smoking, the salmon is cured in a dry mixture (3 parts salt, 1 part sugar cured about 12 hours) but I have decided to use a wet mixture (time constraint and trying something different). I used balsamic and the orange juice for a sweet and tangy balance to substitute for straight sugar. Leave this marinated for around 1.5/2 hours and pat dry before placing in your preferred smoking contraption.

2. There are commercial smoking machines that you can purchase but they are merely a box where you place tea/wood chips on the bottom, heated by an element (not too dissimilar to a pie warmer) but a wok with aluminium foil lining will do the job. Place the tea leaves, and orange rind on the bottom of your wok (the Lapsang Sou Chong tea already has a smoky flavour, using this tea will give your smoked ingredients a more robust flavour); sit the plate and rack onto the wok and make sure it is secure. Also make sure you line your wok with a good cover of foil (I don’t want to be blamed for any damages to woks 🙂
3. Cover your wok with a lid and let your salmon smoke out for around 20-25 minutes, you want it to be pink still when cutting into the salmon. The best way to test your salmon is to give it a push (much like a steak) it should have a bit of give. The prawns should only sit in the smoke for around 10 minutes…while you wait you can salt the salmon skin you put aside earlier and fry it on a pan on medium heat until crispy (the salt will help draw moisture away from the skin and help with the crispening process). Place the skin on a paper towel and drain the excess oil.

4. Meanwhile roughly dice your carrots into 2 cm cubes and place in a saucepan and combine with the cream. You want this to be a soft boil, as gentle as possible while cooking the carrots; a hard boil you result in curdled cream (not really nice). Remember to add salt and pepper to season. 

5. The carrots should be done about the same time as the salmon, it doesn’t have to be mushy mess but just break when you squeeze the chunks. Place your carrots in a hand blender container, blend and add a knob of butter and season to taste…

6. The salad is straight forward; wash and dry your frizzle and place in a salad bowl. Cut your orange into small cubes and mix with the frizzle. In a separate bowl, mix your mustard and olive oil and of course salt and pepper to season and pour the mixture into your salad bowl with the frizzle leaves and mix. Add the pistachios as a final touch for a bit of crunch.

7. Plate everything as you like. I like to place the puree first and place everything else around and build the plate upwards, making sure the salmon skin does not touch the puree to ensure its crispiness is retained.

A Masterchef favourite – Colin Fassnidge’s Four in Hand

At first glance, upon arriving at the Four in Hand gastro pub, it looks just like that…a pub and a very unassuming one. Upon my departure from the restaurant I can understand why Colin is a masterchef favourite and has featured on the show on so many occasions. His food is inventive yet unpretentious, clever and most importantly delicious. Definitely one of the best gastro pubs I have ever eaten at. The food was excellent value and the portion were generous but not overwhelming. One of the lasting memories that I left the gastro pub with was the colcannon with bacon (a traditional supercharged Irish mash potato)

We started with the Kingfish Cerviche with Ruby Red Grapefruit, Ginger Beer Sorbet and Baby Coriander.The execution was spot on, with perfectly balanced flavours and the surprising subtlety of the ginger beer sorbet…sublime.

The confit du canard with duck salad was an interesting combination; something I would not have thought not of. A wonderfully colourful dish but missing just a spark; something that would have lifted the dish.

First main: Braised Beef Cheek Veal Tongue, Poached Bone Marrow and ‘Steak and Kidney’ was rich and delicious; not for the faint hearted. The flavours were robust and as you would expect from a dish like this, a dish that has  Colin’s Irish upbringing flowing through it. The tongue had been cured for days and was melt in your mouth soft…the little onion rings was a cool touch. Vegetarians would turn in disgust at this dish but carnivores would carve this up.

Second main: Berkshire Pork Fillet with ‘Nose to Tail’ Pudding and Pancetta Jus…The highlight of the dish was the black pudding, such intensity of flavours but not overpowering…the pork loins were pink and perfectly cooked and just the right balance of flavours; a top dish.

16 hour cooked Apple Terrine with Anglaise, Prune and Sherry Ice-cream. A great end to the meal with a dessert that was not overly sweet and the Calvodos cut through the richness of the dessert and the meal.

It is a little out of the way and away from the city but Four in Hand is definitely worth the trip out to the quiet streets of Paddington. You will experience food that’s a little left field, honest and unpretentious.

Taste: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 6/10
Value: 8/10

How was your experience at the Four in Hand?

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Confessions of a Food, Booze and Travel Addict