Neil Perry’s Chicken and Macaroni Salad

Serves: 4

This a super simple, super wonderful salad. It has Saturday lunch written all over it.

It is delicious. And whilst the simplicity of the ingredients might not let onto that, it is the simplicity of the ingredients that deliver.

You can buy a cooked chicken to make things easier though I cooked a chicken and it was just a bit more special. Leave the skin on either way.

And Neil’s tip… buy artichokes in olive oil and not brine. Though that’s obvious right!

Ingredients

1.6kg roast chicken, shredded
250gm cooked macaroni, al dente, drained and refreshed under cold water
2 celery stalks, cut into julienne
4 preserved artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
250gm cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
235gm aioli
1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Aioli

3 egg yolks
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
375ml half olive oil, half extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

(Makes about 400ml)

Method

  1. Place the pasta, celery, artichoke, tomato and egg in a large bowl and gently fold in the aioli.

For the salad

  1. Divide among four plates and top with roast chicken. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the aioli

  1. Put a saucepan large enough to hold a stainless steel bowl on a bench. Place a tea towel around the inside edge of the pan and place the bowl on top; this will hold the bowl steady while you whisk.
  2. Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk. Add the garlic, sea salt and lemon juice and while whisking, drizzle in the oil very slowly. As the emulsion starts to form, add the oil in a steady stream. Don’t let the oil sit on the surface as this can cause the aioli to split. Add a grind of pepper and check the seasoning for salt and lemon juice.
  3. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a week.

Neil Perry’s Sweet Black Vinegar Pork Belly

Serves: 4

Nat cooked this dish from Neil’s book Balance and Harmony as part of a long Sunday lunch and it was just so good.

This is not your local Chinese “sweet and sour”. Not by a long shot.

It isn’t a complex dish either. Just start the night before and with a bowl of rice, some sliced spring onions and roasted sesame seeds…

Lordy.

Ingredients

500gm boneless pork belly cut into 3cm thick pieces across the grain
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp shaoxing
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1/3 c soft brown sugar
4 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
Finely sliced spring onion and roasted sesame seeds to serve

Method

  1. Mix together 1/4 tsp of the sea salt, sugar, shaoxing, soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp of the peanut oil, add the pork and leave to marinate for at least2 hours, or overnight. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Heat a wok until smoking. Add the remaining oil and, when hot, stir fry the pork in batches for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until well coloured on all sides. Return all the pork to the wok and add the brown sugar vinegar, remaining salt. And 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the pork is very tender. If the sauce is a little thin, remove the pork from the sauce and return the wok to the heat. Boil until it has a syrupy consistency, then pour over the pork. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onion and sesame seeds.

Adam Liaw’s Barramundi Curry with Tomato Coconut

Serves: 4

I’ve previously written about what a big fan I am of Adam Liaw.

Brilliant cook. Funniest Twitter account. Genuinely lovely guy.

And so there I am during Sydney’s Covid lockdown; in-line in a Chinese grocer and who walks up behind me, but Adam Liaw.

So I introduce myself and tell him what a fan I am of his; that I have purchased several of his latest book for friends.

He politely thanks me.

Clutching snake beans, I explain that I accidentally purchased garlic chives the day before and ho ho ho, what an easy mistake that is right?

And he gives me that look: no it isn’t moron. Only you could make that mistake.

Anyway, still a fan and yes, it was a moron mistake.

In keeping with all of Adam Liaw’s recipes, this one is a keeper. A total keeper.

A wonderful coming together of Malaysian and Indian flavours as he puts it.

We had this mid-week as a date night and didn’t we have a great evening! This dish and a bottle of cold white were big contributors.

Ingredients

1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon quill
10 curry leaves
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large green chillies, sliced
2 coriander plants, leaves picked, stalks and roots roughly chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tamarind puree
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
10 okra, trimmed (optional and omitted)
750gm skinless barramundi fillets

Method

  1. Heat a large frypan or saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves, and stir for 10 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, chillies, plus the coriander stalks and roots and stir well.
  2. Cook for about 4 minutes until the mix is fragrant but the onion is not yet coloured, then add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well, then add the tomatoes, tamarind, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar plus a splash of water* and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the okra (if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the barramundi and simmer until cooked through: about 6 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, then scatter with the coriander leaves and serve.

*Nat and I did a virtual cooking class with Neil Perry during Sydney’s lockdown and the most prominent comment from the 750 or so Instagram participants was “slow down”. And it wasn’t that we did not have the ingredients ready.

The issue was cooking time.

Neil’s induction was putting our gas hobs to shame.

And it is why I assume so many chefs ask for a cup of water to be added to a dish and then reduced in 10 minutes. Because they can… and we can’t.

I’m subscribed to the view that you add water as you go rather than reducing large quantities of it. Because it always takes multiples of what you are told it should take time wise. And with respect to Adam, adding a cup of water at this stage meant another 15 minutes frantically trying to bring this back over a very high heat.

Sophie Wright’s Steamed Sea Bream with Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onion

Serves: 2

Sophie Wright was a star on the British food scene about 10 years ago with two highly regarded cookbooks launched within a few years of each other.

This is one of the recipes from her second book.

Nat served this for lunch and wow did the conversation pivot to why we were not steaming enough Asian fish in our lives.

This is a classic recipe. The ginger, the chilli, the spring onions, the soy and sesame oil… classic.

The only change I would make would be to use a thicker fish such as barramundi, though the subtlety of the sea bream is definitely a thing, especially if serving as part of a banquet.

Monday night, Sunday-lunch banquet, either way… serve this with some rice, lemon wedges and Chinese greens and you will win the night… or the lunch.

Ingredients

2 sea bream fillets, pin-boned
3cm piece of ginger sliced into very thin strips
1 large green chilli, seeds removed sliced at an angle
6 spring onions, trimmed and shredded
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Handful of coriander leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
Steamed rice and green vegetables to serve

Method

  1. Place a wok or saucepan with a steamer on the stove and half fill the wok with boiling water. Cover with a lid.
  2. Lay the fish fillets, skin-side down on a plate that fits in the steamer. Sprinkle the ginger chilli and half the spring onion over the fish. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and pour over the fish.
  3. Place the plate in the steamer and cover with a lid. Leave to steam over a medium heat for about 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  4. Serve the fish with all the ginger chilli and spring onion on top and sprinkle with coriander leaves and remaining spring onion. Pour any juices that are on the plate over the fish and serve with a wedge of lime, steamed rice and green vegetables.

Terry Durack’s Prawn and Lup Cheong Omelet

Serves: 1

Sunday is a long-lunch day and often, we do them at home.

Or more correctly this time, Nat did it at home. An utterly excellent, four course, lux-Chinese banquet.

This recipe by Terry Durack kicked the afternoon off and wow, it was a doozy of a dish. A dish that said things are going to be good.

The flavours are so mature and sophisticated; and it absolutely looks the part.

With Champagne… things were definitely good.

Ingredients

1/2 lup cheong sausage
1 tbsp vegetable oil plus 1 tsp for frying
5 medium prawns, peeled and cleaned
1 mild red chilli, finely sliced
50gm bean sprouts
3 eggs
The green tops of 2 green spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

  1. Place the lup cheong in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes yo soften, then finely slice. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir-fry the prawns, lup cheong and half the chilli for 1-2 minutes over a high heat. Add the bean sprouts and toss for 30 seconds, and remove from the heat.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs, half the onion tops, fish sauce, sugar, sea salt and pepper together with a fork. Heat 1 tsp oil in wok over a medium-high heat and swirl to coat the surface. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, using a fork to draw the mixture back into the centre, allowing the egg to cook.
  3. When lightly set on top, lower the heat, scatter with the stir fry mixture and most of the remaining onion tops and cook for another 30 seconds or until the egg is cooked through. Slide the omelet from the wok onto a warmed plate; optionally fold the it over on itself. Drizzle oyster sauce on top, and scatter with the coriander and remaining onions and chilli. Serve immediately.

David Tanis’ Peppery Flank Steak Tagliata in the Oven

Serves: 4

One of Sydney’s best restaurants is Bistecca where they serve only one main: a medium-rare t-bone cooked over wood, beaten with bushes of rosemary and lashed with olive oil.

It is not only a brilliant cut of meat. The whole thing is a brilliant experience.

This dish by NY chef David Tanis is close, with the hints of rosemary that make Bistecca so good. And then that garlic.

With the side salad of rocket and Parmesan: this is simple, primal yet sophisticated Italian.

We also did a cracking Nigella Salad.

Just get that pan as hot as you can and seal it as best you can.

What a mid-week treat.

Ingredients

  1. Lay flank steak on a baking sheet and season on both sides with salt. Coarsely crush the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Measure 1 tbsp of crushed pepper and sprinkle on both sides of the steak. Strip leaves from the rosemary and sprinkle meat evenly on both sides with rosemary and garlic slices. Drizzle with 4 tbsp olive oil, then massage with your hands to distribute, pressings pepper, rosemary and garlic into the surface. Leave at room temperature for an hour.
  2. Heat the oven to 220c. Place a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the steak on the upper rack and heat for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Carefully put the flank steak in open and close the oven. After 5 minutes flip the steak and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes until the juices appear on the surface of the steak. Remove the steak and rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Cut meat on a diagonal, against the grain into thin slices, Arrange sliced meat on a platter surrounded by rocket. Shave over Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with lemon wedges.

Method

1 flank steak, approximately 900gm
Sea Salt
Black peppercorns
1 small bunch rosemary
6 garlic cloves, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
150gm rocket
Parmesan or Pecorino for shaving
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Pasta Genovese

Serves: 4 – 6

This classic pasta really is brilliant.

Nat found it in my mother’s collection of recipes and alongside a focaccia Nat cooked, nobody ate a better lunch in our part of town that day.

I love the cooking of the potatoes with the pasta. Which together with the wonderfully simple pesto and the prosciutto, it just so wonderfully rustic.

Just add plenty of Parmesan, open a bottle of white and there you have it… classic.

Ingredients

Dried linguini or tagliatelle
6 small baby potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
100gm baby green beans, trimmed
Grated Parmesan
Thinly sliced prosciutto
2 c tightly packed basil leaves
50gm pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
150ml olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Process the basil, pine nuts and garlic to a paste, stir in the olive oil and 100gm Parmesan: season.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted water and 5 minutes before the cooking time is done, add the potatoes.
  3. Just before draining, add the beans and cook briefly. Drain, retaining 100ml of the pasta water.
  4. Add a generous amount of the pesto to the pasta water together with some additional Parmesan, toss together all the ingredients and serve with prosciutto slices draped over.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken

Serves: 4

You have to give it to this guy. He is so clever.

And this dish is just that. Like, screw you clever. Like, why didn’t I bloody think of that clever.

Like one-pot-pasta clever, though cleverer than the first batch of one-pot-pastas we were all inundated with five years back.

It’s the simplicity. The rusticity. And the various textures of the spaghetti, from soft to crunchy: the caramelised chicken.

Look at that spaghetti!

And it is fun to dish and eat.

Screw you clever.

It is a weeknight meal though served on a Saturday night with friends, it would absolutely not look out of place.

It is just that fun… and good.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg skin-on chicken thighs (4-6)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1cm dice
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 c boiling water
230gm spaghetti, broken into thirds
1/3 c lightly packed finely grated Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c.
  2. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large, ovenproof lidded skillet and heat over high. Season the chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, then add to the hot oil, skin down. Cook for 7 minutes, without turning, to brown well.
  3. Turn down to medium-high, stir in the onion and turn over the chicken; cook for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly browned. Add the tomato paste, garlic and 1 tbsp thyme and cook, stirring the paste into the onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant and all browned.
  4. Add the boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, then add the spaghetti, stirring to submerge and evenly distribute. Lift the chicken pieces so that sit on top of the spaghetti, skin side up. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and remaining thyme.
  6. After the pasta has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the oven to its highest setting and get the grill on. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture evenly over the chicken, drizzle with the remaining oil and grill for a few minutes until nicely browned and crisp. Set aside for a few minutes and serve straight from the pan.

Kay Chun’s Coconut-Miso Salmon Curry

Serves: 4

This curry I found on NYT’s Cooking had 7k+ 5-star reviews so… it had to be done.

Add one more 5-star.

What a mild, moorish dinner.

The caremalised miso with the coconut milk, the lime and then the fresh herbs. Wow.

I used a premium coconut milk and the difference was obvious. Don’t cut this corner.

And it’s so simple. Monday-night home date-night sort of stuff.

You could add fresh chilli at the end, though whatever you do, get that lime juice in and a solid handful of those herbs.

Note: I used two cups of water and not three and I would do it again.

Ingredients

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced 5cm thick
1 10cm piece fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 c white miso
1/2 c coconut milk
750g salmon, cut into large pieces
5c baby spinach
1 tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
Steamed jasmine rice for serving
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 c chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and season. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the miso and cook, stirring frequently, until the miso is lightly caramelised: about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut and 3 cups of boiling water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced slightly. Lower the heat and add the salmon and simmer gently until just cooked through. Turn off the hear and stir in the spinach and lime juice until the spinach is wilted.
  3. Serve with rice, topped with the fresh herbs and lime wedges for squeezing.

Blender Bearnaise

Serves: 10

Last weekend, I cooked a tomahawk over charcoal and it was tremendous.

350c, 6 minutes over direct heat and then 10 minutes over indirect heat. Rested for 25 mins.

Perfect, medium rare. As one person put it online when looking up the cooking technique and target internal temperature: you could cut it with your tongue and indeed, you almost could.

The king of the cuts?
Indirect heat before the grill was on.
Started with lobsters because why not?
My goodness.
Perfect.

Nat wanted a bearnaise at the side: which I agreed with on one hand, though what a pain. Double broiling, frantically whisking eggs, fearful of the sauce splitting.

At the same time of course, when I am walking the tight rope of cooking a tomahawk.

For years my mother has said to use the blender method, though I had only ever done so for hollandaise.

The time had come. (And to cut a long story short, I’m never going back.)

FTW.

Ingredients

1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c white wine
2 tbsp shallots, minced
3 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped and divided
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 large egg yolks
1 c unsalted butter, melted

Method

  1. Combine the vinegar, wine, shallots, 1 tbsp of the tarragon, 1/4 tsp salt and the pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture is reduced to a few tbsp. Cool slightly.
  2. Transfer the cooled mixture, along with the egg yolks and 1 tsp salt into a blender. Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. With the blender running, slowly pour hot butter through opening in the lid. Add remaining 2 tbsp tarragon and blend for a second.