Neil Perry is famous for his Asian omelettes and my first experience was in 1997 when I graduated from school (boarding school no-less) and in a surprise, my old-man picked me up and we drove into the Sydney CBD and had lunch at the original Rockpool.
We had Neil’s famous blue swimmer crap omelette and it was just awesome.
This particular dish is simpler – incredibly simple in fact – though it is that simplicity that makes it just such a wonderful treat.
What a cracking starter by Nat for a long afternoon of Chinese grazing.
300gm green king prawns, peeled and deveined 2 large eggs 3 tbsp vegetable oil 1 spring onion, sliced
2 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tsp sugar A few drops of sesame oil
To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil with 2 tbsp water in a small pot and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
Break the eggs into a bowl and lightly break up with a fork.
Heat a wok until it is almost smoking, Add half the oil and, when hot, stir-fry the prawns in two batches until almost cooked through. Remove the prawns and wipe the wok clean.
Heat the remaining oil and stir fry the eggs until just beginning to set, then add the prawns and spring onion and gently toss together. Remove from the heat, spoon onto a plate and pour the warm sauce over the eggs to serve.
Another cracking dried curry – which I love – and one from Neil Perry’s book Balance and Harmony: cooked by Nat no less as part of a long Covid lockdown lunch.
I appreciate that pastes can be painful on first inspection though take the time. This is how we make the food that we love, right?
Dried shrimp and shrimp paste are easily gettable and the rest is mainstream.
Enjoy. (I certainly did with a side-bowl of steamed white rice.)
300gm blue eye fillet, cut into bite sized pieces 8 snake beans, cut into 3cm pieces 100ml vegetable oil 2 tbsp grated palm sugar 2 tbsp fish sauce 2 tsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
1/2 tsp white peppercorns 1/2 tsp fennel seeds 1/2 tsp cumin seeds 2 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and chopped 1 tsp sea salt 3 red shallots, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tsp finely chopped galangal 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves removed, chopped 6 coriander roots, scraped and chopped 1 tsp Thai shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and roasted until fragrant
To make the spice paste, lightly roast the peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds in a dry heavy-based pan until very fragrant and dark, then grind to a powder in a spice grinder. The pound all the past ingredients in a mortar and pestle until you have a fine paste. (Or use a blender, adding a little water if necessary.)
Boil the beans until tender, then drain and refresh in iced water.
Heat a wok until smoking. Add half the oil and, when hot, stir-fry the blue eye in batches until golden, then remove. Add the remaining oil to the pan and stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, then add the palm sugar, fish sauce, beans and shrimp and toss together. Return the blue eye to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Neil credits this recipe to Roger Vergé, one of the greatest chefs of all time; the recipe first appeared in Roger Vergé’s first cookbook, Cuisine of the Sun (1979). (This Roger Vergé recipe is one of the greatest beef recipes I have had and after you have had this dish for lunch, line this beef up for dinner.)
Paired with coral trout – my absolute favourite fish – this is a sublime dish. The texture is just wonderful.
You could be in the South of France.
Do yourself a favour and whilst the sun is still out, do this as part of a lazy lunch.
4 x 180gm coral trout fillets Sea salt Extra virgin olive oil Freshly ground pepper
For the sauce vierge (makes 500ml)
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peels, deseeded and cut into a 2cm dice. 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and halved 2 tbsp chopped chervil 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp chopped tarragon 8 coriander seeds, crushed 250ml extra virgin olive oil Sea salt an freshly ground pepper
Mix the diced tomatoes with all the other ingredients in a bowl, then set aside for 1 – 2 hours to mature.
Preheat the barbecue to hot an make sure the grill bars are clean. Liberally sprinkle the fillets with sea salt an brush with the oil. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Rest in a warm place for 3 minutes.
Plate, spooning over the sauce, twist of pepper and serve.
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!
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
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)
Place the pasta, celery, artichoke, tomato and egg in a large bowl and gently fold in the aioli.
For the salad
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
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.
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.
Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a week.
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…
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
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.
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.
The Croque Monsieur is is just one of the most classic sandwiches.
Though I had never had it with a glass of wine and a green leaf salad.
Turns out I’ve been doing wrong all these years.
Sitting in the sun with a wonderful Riesling, Nat and I toasted that this is what life was all about. A brilliant sandwich with the bubbling, golden gruyere, the ham, the sourdough and the bechamel.
I have a feeling we will pull this combination out many more times.
8 slices of day-old sourdough bread 3 cups loosely packed (300gm) grated gruyere 8 slices of smoked ham
For the Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp butter 4 tbsp plain flour 3 c milk Freshly grated nutmeg Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Serve with a simple salad of greens: cos, radicchio, watercress and rocket and just some extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, well seasoned.
Start with the Bechamel: melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil and finally thickens. Take off the heat, season and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Cool sufficiently that it is firm enough to spread.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200c. Place the 8 sourdough slices on a chopping board. Layer the Bechamel on each slice, spreading evenly edge-to-edge. Sprinkle the cheese equally over each, edge-to-edge.
On 4 of the slices, layer 2 slices of ham and then place the remaining 4 slices on top, cheese-side up. Transfer to a baking tray and cook for 12 minutes or until golden: use the grill at the end if necessary.
Though if its green leaves you need. And the wonderful freshness of herbs. And a vinaigrette.
I commend to you the best.
1 heads of radicchio, leaves separated, washed and dried 2 heads of baby cos lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried 2 heads of witlof, leaves separated, washed and dried 8 sprigs of watercress, tough stalks removed 6 chives, cut into 2.5cm lengths Large handful of coriander leaves Handful of dill fronds Handful of tarragon leaves Handful of chervil leaves Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
I have plated this dish at least half a dozen times and it is always so well received.
Classic Saturday lunch sort of stuff.
Fresh prawns, iceberg and a wonderful cocktail sauce. Everything you would expect of Neil Perry in his style of cooking.
Of course, it’s nothing new and people have been doing this since the 70s. Though slightly deconstructed like this recipe is, it’s a great return of a classic dish.
Follow it up with a good steak over charcoal and oh man, that is a great Saturday indeed.
150gm iceberg lettuce, outer leaves and core removed, finely shredded (about 1/4 of a whole lettuce) 2 lemon wedges, plus extra to serve 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 16 large cooked king prawns, peeled, tailed instant and intestinal tracts removed
140ml thick good-quality egg mayonnaise 1 tbsp tomato sauce 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish (I use horseradish cream) Pinch cayenne pepper Dash of Tabasco sauce
For sauce, combine ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Divide lettuce among 4 plates, squeeze 2 lemon wedges over and drizzle with oil. Season to taste, top with prawns and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
You can’t go wrong with leek slowly cooked in butter, though it is the thinly sliced chicken breast that wins here.
And smoked bacon.
Line your pie dish with pastry and then cover all with pastry and make it even more svelte.
It’s simple and that’s the point.
Happy Father’s Day.
(I have slightly adapted the recipe.)
30gm butter 2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced 6 rashers smoked bacon, chopped 3 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips 300ml cream 2 egg yolks Salt and pepper Sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing
Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and cook the leeks until very sold and lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the bacon to the pan and cook until lightly browned, remove and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the leeks, bacon and chicken to the pan. Add the combined cream and yolks, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes and then season with salt and pepper, to taste, Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 210C. And make a pie. You known how to do this right? Egg wash, prick the pastry to allow the steam to escape and bake for 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown.
Happy Father’s Day ladies. And gents.
* Use a ricer, plenty of butter and milk, well seasoned: and then add a finely chopped golden shallot.
This is the best tagine I have had. Nat also thinks so. Ditto her sister Court to whom we dropped a meal pack during the intersection of Sydney’s lockdown and the birth of her first child, Ella.
Hello there Ella. You’re beautiful and as lucky as your parents are.
Anyway, back to this tagine.
It starts with a classic Neil Perry Chermoula that I have used so many times for his beef tagine and chicken tagine.
What makes it just that more interesting is firstly the fish which is so much nuanced than beef: and then the wonderful baby vegetables including the kipfler potatoes which are a totally new tagine element for me.
It does colour concerningly red fairly early on thanks to the baby beetroots, though hold the course.
Served with a couscous tossed with chicken stock, currents and flaked almonds, this tagine just hits you. (Or try this amazing couscous.)
It will be the dish of your week.
1kg bar rock cod, skinned, pin-boned and cut into 3-4cm cubes 6 baby beetroots, trimmed 3 bulbs baby fennel, trimmed and quartered 12 baby carrots, trimmed 12 small kipfler potatoes 1 1/2 cups Chermoula* 3 tbsp honey 1 1/2 tsp salt flakes 60gm blanched almonds 80gm green olives 1 preserved lemon, rind rinsed and thinly sliced Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, strained Couscous to serve
1 red onion, roughly chopped 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 bunch coriander, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped 1 1/2 tsp salt flakes 1 tbsp ground cumin 1 tbsp ground coriander 1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder 1 tbsp ground turmeric 2 tsp smoked paprika 1 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout 185ml extra virgin olive oil Juice of 1 lemon, strained
To make the Chermoula: place the onion, garlic, coriander, parsley, salt, ground cumin and coriander, chilli, turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout in a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil to form a thick paste. Stir through the lemon juice.
Combine the beetroot, fennel, carrot, potato, 1ltr of water, 1 1/2 c Chermoula, honey, salt, almonds and olives in a tagine or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour, covered, until the vegetables are well cooked.
Stir the fish and preserved lemons through the vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes, until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very gently from time to time. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Divide among bowls and serve with the couscous.
* You will have leftover Chermoula. We marinated and grilled chicken breasts with the leftover Chermoula and you should too.