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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.

Perfect match: spiced snapper with savagnin


You'll need

2 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tbsp cumin seeds 2 cloves ½ cinnamon quill 1 star anise 20 gm (4cm piece) ginger, finely grated 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 3 long green chillies, seeds removed, coarsely chopped 2 cups (loosely packed) coriander 1 lime, rind finely grated, thinly sliced 50 ml vegetable oil 50 ml white wine vinegar 1 snapper (about 2.5kg), scaled and cleaned   Tomato and cucumber salad 200 ml white wine vinegar 110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar 500 gm vine-ripened plum truss tomatoes, halved 1 telegraph cucumber, cut into 2cm pieces ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped ½ cup (loosely packed) coriander, coarsely chopped

Method

  • 01
  • Dry-roast coriander and cumin separately until fragrant (1-2 minutes), reserve half the cumin seeds for salad, then finely grind remainder in a spice grinder with cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Process remaining ingredients (except snapper and sliced lime) in a food processor, add dry-roasted spices and combine to form a paste. Rub snapper with paste, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate (6 hours-overnight).
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Place lime slices inside snapper cavity. Wrap snapper in aluminium foil, place on a roasting tray and cook until just cooked through (35-40 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for tomato and cucumber salad, combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer until slightly thickened (3-4 minutes) and set aside to cool. Combine tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic and reserved cumin seeds in a bowl. Pour over vinegar mixture, then refrigerate until cold. Stir through coriander, season to taste and serve with snapper.

Note You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


You are familiar with the story by now, I'm sure. Last year, Australian vignerons were shocked to discover that the white grape growing in their vineyards that they thought was the trendy Spanish albariño was in fact the obscure French savagnin. The growers and makers have since got on with picking the grapes and making the wine - whatever it was called. As it happens, savagnin is also known in parts of Europe as white traminer - which makes sense in retrospect as many of the wines made from this variety here in Australia have been exotic yet fresh, like a cross between fat gewürztraminer and steely riesling. Indeed, many of the Australian savagnins in bottle shops are more traminer-like than the Australian gewürztraminers. And this is exactly the kind of white you need with this dish. The wine's delicate perfume will tackle the aromatic spice rub, while its dry finish is wonderfully matched to the rich flesh of the fish.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Jan 2010

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