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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.

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This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pea and ham soup

Seared kingfish with radish, avocado and wasabi


"I really love the textural elements in this dish - the softness of the avocado, the firmness of the kingfish, and the crunch of the nashi and radish. There's a beautiful balance. A word of advice: make sure you flambé the vodka long enough to burn out the alcohol or the flavour will be too dominant. You can find dried wakame and agar-agar at Asian supermarkets and some health food shops," says Matt Moran.

You'll need

1 nashi pear, thinly sliced Juice of ½ lime 320 gm skinless sashimi-grade kingfish loin 2½ tbsp vegetable oil 1 avocado, halved, peeled and each half quartered lengthwise 2 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced To garnish: flat-leaf parsley leaves To drizzle: extra virgin olive oil   Vodka gel 100 ml vodka 1½ tbsp sugar syrup (see note) Finely grated rind and juice each of ⅛ orange, ⅛ lemon and ⅛ lime 1 tsp agar-agar   Wasabi salt 1 tsp dried wakame seaweed 1 tbsp sea salt flakes ½ tsp wasabi powder

Method

  • 01
  • For vodka gel, bring vodka to the boil in a saucepan over high heat, then remove from heat and carefully tilt pan so flame sets vodka alight to burn off the alcohol. When flame goes out, add sugar syrup and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add rind and juices and set aside for 5 minutes to infuse. Strain through a fine sieve and return to pan. Whisk in agar-agar, and bring to the boil over medium heat while whisking continuously. Boil, still whisking, for 1 minute, then pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set (20-30 minutes). Process in a small blender until smooth. You may need to add a little water to help blend the gel.
  • 02
  • For wasabi salt, preheat oven to 100C and pound wakame with a mortar and pestle into small pieces. Place in a bowl with salt and wasabi. Slowly mix in 2 tsp water, or just enough to help stick the wasabi and salt together. Spread mixture over a non-stick baking tray and dry out in oven (15 minutes). Remove from oven, cool, then finely crush with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • 03
  • Place nashi pear in a small bowl, squeeze lime juice over, and set aside to marinate (10 minutes).
  • 04
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Season kingfish, roll in oil, then quickly sear in frying pan on each side until golden (30 seconds per side; it will remain raw in the centre). Place on a plate and refrigerate to cool, then thinly slice.
  • 05
  • Roll skinned side of avocado pieces in wasabi salt and arrange on plates with nashi pear, kingfish and radish. Top with small spoonfuls of vodka gel, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Note For sugar syrup, combine 2 tbsp caster sugar and 2 tbsp water in a small pan and stir over medium heat until sugar has just dissolved to make about 60ml.

Watch Matt Moran from Brisbane's Aria restaurant make the seared kingfish with radish, avocado and wasabi recipe live from the Harvey Norman Gourmet Institute Event on July 29 at Harvey Norman, Aspley in an exclusive video on the Harvey Norman website


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

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