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Aløft

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Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Mulloway with brandade croquettes


You'll need

For shallow-frying: vegetable oil 6 mulloway fillets (about 180gm each) 25 gm butter 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 thyme sprig 1 tsp lemon juice, or to taste 6 Brussels sprouts, leaves separated, steamed 2-3 tbsp squid ink, thinned with a little water, and fennel fronds, to serve   Brandade croquettes 1 mulloway fillet (about 200gm), skin removed, coarsely chopped 30 gm sea salt flakes Finely grated rind of 1 lemon 2 garlic cloves, bruised 1 thyme sprig 500 ml (2 cups) milk 500 gm Desiree potatoes (about 2) 400 gm rock salt 50 gm salted capers, rinsed, coarsely chopped ½ cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 50 ml olive oil, or to taste 50 ml lemon juice, or to taste 100 gm (2/3 cup) plain flour, plus extra for dusting 3 eggs, lightly beaten 200 gm dried white breadcrumbs For deep-frying: vegetable oil   Pickled pumpkin 200 ml white wine vinegar 100 gm white sugar 1 star anise ½ cinnamon quill ¼ butternut pumpkin (about 300gm), cut into 1.5cm cubes

Method

  • 01
  • For brandade croquettes, combine mulloway, salt, lemon rind, garlic and thyme in a non-reactive dish and refrigerate to lightly cure (overnight). Brush excess salt from fish (discard cure), place in a saucepan with milk, bring to the simmer and cook over a low heat until just cooked (5-7 minutes). Cool in milk, strain (reserve milk), coarsely flake and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Roast potato on a bed of rock salt until tender and cooked through (45-55 minutes), then pass through a mouli or potato ricer (see note) into a bowl. Add 50ml reserved poaching milk, then mix in capers, parsley and fish. Season to taste with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, refrigerate until cooled (30 minutes), then roll into 12 cylinders. Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Dust croquettes with flour, then dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between. Repeat with egg and breadcrumbs to thickly coat, then refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • For pickled pumpkin, combine vinegar, sugar and 600ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, dry-roast star anise and cinnamon (10-20 seconds). Add to vinegar mixture with pumpkin and bring to the boil over medium heat, then remove from heat, cool pumpkin in liquid and set aside.
  • 03
  • Preheat vegetable oil in a deep-sided saucepan to 160C. Deep-fry croquettes in batches until cooked through (6-7 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Keep warm.
  • 04
  • Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil 1cm-deep in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Dust fish with flour and cook, skin-side down, until skin is crisp (4-5 minutes), then transfer to oven and roast until just cooked through (3 minutes). Drain excess oil from pan, add butter, garlic and thyme to pan and cook over high heat until butter foams (1 minute), then turn fish. Add lemon juice to taste, remove from heat and stand until fish is almost cooked through (2-3 minutes). Season to taste and serve with croquettes, drops of squid ink and drained pickled pumpkin, scattered with steamed Brussels sprouts and fennel fronds.
Note Moulis and potato ricers are available from kitchenware shops. Alternatively, you can mash the potato with a hand masher.

This recipe is from the August 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Hunter semillon; either a zesty young semillon full of citrus such as the Thomas Braemore, or, even better, something with a little age, such as a 2003 Tyrrell’s HVD.

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