Pork Dumplings, Two Ways

I took my first restaurant job was at Morimoto NYC, right after I graduated from university. I had never worked in a kitchen before so I was uncertain, clumsy and green in every way. Thanks to my patient and nurturing sous chef, I learned quickly and fell in love with the repetitive tasks of restaurant cooking. 

One of my favourite items on the prep to-do list was to make pork dumplings. Especially on hungover mornings or stressful days, there was little I enjoyed doing more than standing for a couple of hours at my dumpling station. 

this recipe is coming soon

pork dumplings

Lobster Roll with Onion Rings

As today is Super Bowl Sunday, I'm sure everyone will be posting photos of chicken wings and cheese nachos. I'm not one for watching the game but if I were, I would like to be eating this dish as it went on. 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

3 live lobsters (about lb each)

2 medium fennel heads, bulb cored and cut into 1/4" dice, save fronds for garnish

3 tbsp mayonnaise, preferably homemade

2 tbsp creme fraiche

1 tsp celery salt 

1 lemon, zested with microplane

2 shallots, peeled and finely minced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

4 brioche buns

2 tbsp melted butter

kosher salt

Method

Combine the shallots and white wine vinegar in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and set aside to let marinate. 

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and prepare an ice bath. Place the lobsters in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Use a spider or tongs to remove the lobsters from the water. Using a kitchen towel to protect your hands, twist off the knuckles and claws from the body and place them back into the boiling water for another 2 minutes. Shock the body and tail in the ice bath as well as the knuckles and claws then they are ready. When the lobster parts are all cold, remove the meat from the shells and cut into 1/2" pieces. 

In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, fennel, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, reserved shallots, celery salt and lemon zest. Add salt to taste. 

Set a large skillet over medium heat and brush both sides of the brioche rolls with the melted butter. Lay flat in the heated skillet to toast until golden brown. 

Fill the toasted rolls with the lobster salad mixture and garnish with the fennel fronds. Serve with onion rings.


Thank you to Serious Eats for 'The Food Lab's Foolproof Onion Rings Recipe' for this dish, which can be found here

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

The flavours of this salad emulate those of a traditional Salade Lyonnaise (especially if you add a poached egg, which I often do if I want a more filling lunch) which traditionally uses frisée salad and bacon lardons. The raw brussels sprouts hold up well to the vinaigrette and I love the texture of this particular cut for them. 

shaved-brussels-sprouts-salad

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 lb brussels sprouts

2 Fuji apples (or another type that is crisp and sweet, such as McIntosh), unpeeled and cut 1" dice and dressed with a squeeze of lemon to prevent oxidation

1 lemon, for apples

1/2 lb pancetta, cut 1" dice 

5 slices of white bread, stale or dried out in a 300F oven for 10 minutes

1 shallots, peeled and finely minced 

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons for the breadcrumbs

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Method

Use a mandoline to shave the brussels sprouts very finely (about 1/16" thick), holding each by the base. It does take longer to do each individually, but I find that using the slicing disc with a food processor often makes cuts that are too small so you lose the nice ribbons of sprouts that you achieve with the mandoline.

For the vinaigrette, combine the shallots, sherry vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes to let the shallots soak up the vinegar. Stream in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking to make the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Toss the shaved sprouts with the vinaigrette and set aside to let the sprouts soften a little while you prepare the other ingredients.

For the bread crumbs, tear the bread slices into smaller pieces then pulse in the food processor until they reach a coarse sand texture. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and add the bread crumbs, stirring often to make sure they don't burn. When they have reached a lovely golden brown colour, transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet tray and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

To serve, toss the dressed brussels sprouts with the pancetta and apples then garnish with the toasted bread crumbs. 

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Cashew Sauce and Za'atar

This is a simple dish that feels very luxurious because of the velvety cashew sauce. Za'atar is an aromatic Middle Eastern spice that is used as a seasoning, garnish or commonly as a dip for pita bread with olive oil. It is available at specialty food stores such as Kalustyan's, but I usually make it myself by mixing together equal parts of dried oregano, sumac, toasted white sesame seeds and cumin with Maldon salt to taste. 

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Ingredients

1 whole cauliflower head (about 2lb), outer green leaves trimmed and cut across into 1/2" slices

canola oil, to coat

1 cup roasted unsalted cashews

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk 

2 tablespoons za'atar spice 

1/2 cup golden raisins 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Method

Preheat the oven to 425F. 

Coat the cauliflower slices with canola oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet tray and roast for about 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown. 

Meanwhile, use a food processor to blitz the roasted cashews into a pebbly texture. While the food processor is running, stream in 100ml cold water and the coconut milk. Check the texture and continue to pulse until it is creamy and super smooth. 

Toss the roasted cauliflower with the golden raisins. Spread the cashew sauce out onto a serving platter and place the cauliflower on top, garnishing with the za'atar spice. 

Pipis with XO Sauce

Pipis are small clams native to New Zealand with asymmetrical shells that are brightly purple on the inside. I have yet to find them available in New York City, but at the Sydney Fish Market, every retailer (I went to Claudio's) carries them. 

Yield: 4 servings (as a first course) 

Ingredients

2 lb fresh, live pipis 

3 shallots, peeled and finely minced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced 

1oz piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons XO sauce (see note below)

1/3 cup Shaoxing cooking wine 

1/2 cup clam stock 

3 long red chillies, cut into 1/8" slices on a bias

3 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1/8" slices on a bias 

1/4 cup watercress sprouts, for garnish

Method

To clean the pipis, place them in a large bowl with 5 cups cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt so they are fully submerged. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours so that they spit out any grit and sand. When you are ready to cook, lift the pipis out of the water and drain well. 

Set a wok or medium saucepan over medium high heat and gently sauté the shallot and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring so you don't let any ingredients burn. 

Add the pipis along with the wine, stock, sugar and XO sauce. Increase the heat to high and cover the wok or saucepan tightly with a lid for 4-5 minutes, letting the pipis steam until all of them have opened. Take off the heat and garnish with the fresh chillies, scallions and watercress sprouts.


XO Sauce is an intensely flavourful, oily Chinese condiment that is spicy, sweet, smoky, savory and a little funky all at once. While 'XO' usually denotes the age ('extra old') of cognac, none is used to make this sauce. The name, instead, refers to how expensive the ingredients are (especially the dried scallops). It can help add an exotic depth to any dish, from noodles to stir-fried vegetables. 

XO Sauce ingredients from the top left corner, clockwise: dried red chillies, dried shrimp, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), shallots, garlic, dried scallops 

XO Sauce ingredients from the top left corner, clockwise: dried red chillies, dried shrimp, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), shallots, garlic, dried scallops 

Glazed Lamb Ribs with Toasted Spices

I've been quite obsessed with lamb ribs ever since I first ate them at Estela (prepared with charmoula and honey). This cut of meat (sold as the whole breast of lamb) is often difficult to find at New York City butchers. I have to call a few days ahead to explain what part I want and have them cut it for me (usually they grind up that meat for lamb sausages). 

However, in Sydney, the lamb ribs are very common and inexpensive. I bought mine from an incredible butcher in Woollahra called Victor Churchill

I suggest serving with steamed rice and a tart cucumber pickle to balance out the intensity of the glaze, the spice crust and fattiness of the meat. 

Yield: 6 servings as a main course

Ingredients

4 1/2 lbs lamb ribs 

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

1/2 cup tomato puree

2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

3 Japanese cucumbers, cut into 1/2" pieces

1 cup rice wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup long grain rice

Method

Preheat the oven to 275F. 

Season the lamb breasts liberally with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place in a large roasting tray with 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for about 2.5 hours flipping once halfway through.

Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to slightly crush peppercorns, fennel, cumin and coriander seeds  (not into a powder, just until they are cracked). Heat a small frying pan over low heat and toast the spices until fragrant, then set aside to cool.

For the glaze, combine the puree, soy sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the light brown sugar and whisk until it dissolves and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the Shaoxing wine and set aside. 

Check on the lamb; when the meat is very tender and starting to pull away from the bone, take out of the oven and use a pastry brush to coat them with the glaze on both sides. Turn the broiler on and let the ribs continue to cook, adding more glaze every 5 minutes until they are nicely lacquered. 

Remove the lamb from the oven and cut into individual ribs. Press the reserved spices onto the top of the ribs in an even layer and sprinkle over any leftover spices. 

For the quick pickled cucumbers: combine 1 cup of water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan set over high heat, whisking to help the sugar and salt dissolve. When it reaches a boil, transfer to a heatproof bowl with the cucumbers and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

For the rice: wash the rice three times under cold running water. Strain with a colander and then put in a pot with enough water to cover the rice by 1/2". Bring to a boil and then immediately cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for 12-15 minutes before serving. 

Crispy Squid with Chicken Salt and Chillies

Chicken salt is a very popular type of seasoned salt in Australia that is often sprinkled over fries, but can be added to anything that needs an extra savory element.  

Here I have made my own chicken salt (see recipe below) to finish this fried squid dish. I feel that rice flour makes the flour coating very light and doesn't draw attention away from the squid itself. 

Yield: 4 servings as a first course

Ingredients

2 lbs whole squid

1/3 cup AP flour

1/3 cup rice flour

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chicken salt (see separate recipe below)

1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)

canola oil for frying

2 fresh long red chillies, thinly sliced 

3 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced

2 limes cut into wedges 

Method

Clean the squid: pull the tentacles from the body so all the innards are loosened from the body. Place a knife just behind the eyes of the squid and cut the tentacles free. Use your fingers to  remove the hard, inedible cartilage from the tentacles (the 'beak') as well as body (the 'cuttlebone'). Pull away the dark skin from body and discard along with the cartilage, head and innards. Rinse the inside of the squid under cold running water and push out any leftover innards.

Pat the squid dry with paper towels and cut the body into 1/4" rings. Lay out on a small sheet tray with the tentacles and refrigerate, uncovered, for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the flours, chicken salt and chili flakes in a large bowl. Pour an inch of canola oil into a wok over high heat and wait until the temperature reaches 350F (when the oil's surface is shimmering).

Coat the squid well in the flour mixture, then shake off any excess and slide into the hot oil. Fry in batches for about 1 minute until lightly golden, then lift out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet tray. Sprinkle immediately with chicken salt and serve with fresh limes. 


Chicken Salt (recipe adapted from Lucky Peach)

Yield: 170g

Ingredients

2.5 oz chicken skin (from about 4 chicken thighs or 2 large breasts)

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons shiitake mushroom powder

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons celery seed powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Pat the chicken skins dry with paper towels and roast until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes. Strain off the rendered chicken fat and lower the oven to 150F. 

Combine the skins and chicken stock and simmer until the stock is reduced, about 1 hour. 

Use a food processor to pulse the mushroom powder into a fine powder. Set aside. 

Break up the chicken skin into smaller shards with your hands and combine with the salt. Use the food processor to grind until fine. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse a couple times until well mixed. 

Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2 months. 

Roasted chicken skins 

Roasted chicken skins 

New Zealand Scampi with Charred Lemon

This type of lobster is particularly slender, about 5-7 inches long, with delicate claws and a beautifully coloured shell. The flesh is so tasty that it doesn't need much seasoning besides lemon and fresh herbs with nice extra virgin olive oil. 

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

2 lbs fresh New Zealand Scampi (or similar type of shellfish, such as Langoustines)

3 lemons (about 85g each)

1 cup fresh mint, leaves picked 

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the grill to high. 

Finely mince the mint and grate the garlic using a microplane into a small bowl. Mix with the olive oil and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to split the scampi down the center and scoop out the gooey contents from the heads. 

Before cooking the shellfish, start the lemons by simply cutting in half crosswise and placing them cut side down onto the hot grill. Leave them for 5-6 minutes until they are nicely charred.

Brush the flesh of the scampi liberally with olive oil and season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill for just 2 minutes on either side, being careful not to overcook. 

Drizzle the mint-garlic oil and a squeeze of the lemons over the scampi to serve. 

Australian-Style Burger

An Aussie burger 'with the lot' means the addition of pickled beets, a runny fried egg and roasted pineapple slices. Typically the beets are canned but it is quick and easy to pickle them yourself. I prefer my burger without the sweetness of charred fruit (too many different flavours going on) so this recipe doesn't include the pineapple. 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

12oz ground beef sirloin

6oz ground beef brisket

6oz ground beef chuck 

2 red beets (about 10oz each), ends trimmed, peeled, julienned

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds 

1 bay leaf 

2 whole red tomatoes (each about 5oz), cut into 1/4" slices

2 heads cos lettuce, leaves washed and dried 

4 thin slices of white cheddar cheese

4 brioche buns, split and toasted

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

mayonnaise (for coating the buns)

ketchup and mustard for serving 

For the Pickled Beets: use cheesecloth and twine to make a sachet for the coriander seeds, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Combine 1 cup water, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and the sachet in a small pot over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once it comes to a boil, transfer to a heatproof bowl and add the cut beets. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating at least an hour before serving.

For the Eggs: Set a medium-sized, non-stick skillet over low heat and add a tiny drizzle of canola oil. Crack in the eggs (2 at a time depending on the size of the pan), being careful not to break the yolk. Let cook slowly for 3-4 minutes until the white has just set and the yolk is still runny.

For the Burgers: 

Form 4 6oz patties out of the ground meat without overworking or squeezing it too much. Try to make each patty about 1/2" thick. 

Set a cast iron skillet over high heat and while it is getting hot, season the patties liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the patties in the hot, dry pan and leave for about 3 minutes before flipping. Continue to cook, flipping occasionally, until the internal temperature has almost reached desired doneness, then drape the cheese slices over each patty and cover the skillet with a lid for the last 10 seconds until it melts. 

Just before assembling the burgers, coat the bottom bun with a thin layer of mayonnaise. 

To Assemble: The order of ingredients should be: bottom bun, lettuce, patty, cheese, tomato, beets, egg, top bun

 

 

 

Whole Roasted Rainbow Trout with Cherry Tomatoes and Potatoes

This is a simple, versatile dish that also works with other whole fish such as striped bass, red snapper or branzino. I happened to find smoked garlic at the produce market so decided to use it here. The extra layer of flavour is nice but don't worry if you can't find it; regular garlic is just as nice. 

Yield: 6 servings as a main course

Ingredients

2 whole rainbow trout (each about 1 1/2 lbs), cleaned, scaled and gutted

1 lb new potatoes, cleaned and left unpeeled

3/4 lb cherry tomatoes

3 small yellow onions, peeled and cut into 1/2" slices

6 smoked (or regular) garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed

6 fresh thyme sprigs 

1 bay leaf 

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Method

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the potatoes, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt in a pot. Cover with cold water and parboil until almost tender. Drain and let cool enough so that you can handle them and cut into fourths. Toss the cooked potatoes, onions, garlic, and thyme sprigs in olive oil and season well with salt and black pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet tray and roast for 20 minutes. 

While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the fish by scoring 4-5 times on both sides, rubbing with extra virgin olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, inside the cavity and on the skin.

Place the fish on top of the potatoes and arrange the cherry tomatoes around it. Roast for 20 minutes until the flesh is cooked through, the potatoes are crisp, the onions are caramelised and the tomatoes are blistered.

Bulbs of Smoked Garlic 

Bulbs of Smoked Garlic