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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

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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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Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

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"This cake is the new religion at Flour and Stone, and never fails to send those worshipping it into a dream of billowy clouds," says Ingram. "It has come to many parties, including one where its name was changed to reflect the euphoric place it transports you to."

Crisp salmon with mint and pickled watermelon rind salad


You'll need

4 salmon fillets (about 100gm each) 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce For deep-frying: vegetable oil 300 gm watermelon, cut into wedges 1 cup (firmly packed) each mint leaves and coriander leaves 50 gm (about ½ cup) beans sprouts 10 gm (2cm piece) ginger, cut into julienne 4 red shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin 4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded 2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways on a mandolin 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced   Pickled watermelon rind 125 ml (½ cup) coconut vinegar (see note) 80 gm white sugar 2 cinnamon quills 60 gm watermelon rind, thinly shaved on a mandolin   Green chilli nahm prik 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 1 red shallot, coarsely chopped 1 long green chilli, coarsely chopped 40 gm light palm sugar, or to taste, crushed 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce, or to taste 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice, or to taste

Method

  • 01
  • Place salmon in a non-reactive container large enough to fit fish snugly. Pour over soy, season to taste with freshly ground white pepper and refrigerate to marinate (1 hour).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for pickled watermelon rind, bring vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt to the boil in a saucepan over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid reduces slightly (5-7 minutes). Add watermelon rind and simmer until rind softens (5-7 minutes), then set aside to cool in liquid. Watermelon rind will will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for green chilli nahm prik, preheat oven to 200C. Roast garlic, shallot and chilli on an oven tray lined with baking paper until golden (5-7 minutes). Cool slightly, then pound in a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste. Add palm sugar, pound to break up sugar, then add fish sauce and lime juice, stir to combine (adjust seasoning to taste; dressing should be sweet, salty, hot and sour) and set aside.
  • 04
  • Preheat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Pat salmon dry with absorbent paper, then deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper, then coarsely flake.
  • 05
  • Drain watermelon rind (discard liquid) and combine with remaining ingredients and salmon in a bowl, drizzle over green chilli nahm prik, toss to combine and serve.
Note Coconut vinegar is available from Asian grocers.

This recipe is from the February 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“I recently celebrated my birthday with friends at Kitsch in Leederville, Perth. We ordered a few dishes to share, and all agreed the salmon and watermelon salad was special. Would the chef mind sharing the recipe?”
Jade Tsen, Mount Hawthorn, WA

Request a recipe
To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email us. All requests should include the restaurant’s name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

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