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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.

Smoked stuffed trout with smoky garlic and lime mayo


You'll need

1 kg hickory or other dense woodchips soaked in cold water for 1 hour, drained 1 lime, thinly sliced 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds reserved 2 limes, thinly sliced 2 rainbow trout (about 500gm each) 1 baby red cos lettuce, cut into wedges Juice of 1 lime 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil   Garlic and lime mayonnaise 1 garlic head 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice 2 egg yolks 1 tsp Dijon mustard 300 ml olive oil

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat a coal-bedded kettle barbecue to medium heat and set up for indirect grilling (see note). Add one-quarter of woodchips around coals and cook until smoke appears.
  • 02
  • For garlic and lime mayonnaise, smoke garlic head on barbecue, turning occasionally, until tender and well flavoured (45 minutes-1 hour). Cool, then squeeze garlic from skins into a food processor, add lime juice, yolks and mustard, blend to combine, then gradually add olive oil in a thin, steady stream until thick. Season to taste. Makes about 350ml. Mayonnaise will keep refrigerated for 1 week.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, stuff lime slices and half the fennel slices into fish cavities, secure with string, then smoke on barbecue, covered and turning once halfway through cooking, until trout are cooked through and well flavoured (20-30 minutes; add more coals and wood chips to barbecue if embers and smoke die down).
  • 04
  • Combine cos lettuce, lime juice and extra-virgin olive oil with remaining fennel slices and fronds in a bowl, season to taste and serve with warm trout and garlic and lime mayonnaise.

Note Indirect grilling is cooking away from the heat, using the top rack. It's important to have your coal base well established and glowing before adding woodchips. Refer to your barbecue manual for instructions.


Smoking tips

When smoking inside, ensure your kitchen is well ventilated, with the extractor fan on high and any windows open, to avoid triggering smoke alarms.

A well-sealed vessel is essential for smoking. Use two baking trays of exactly the same size, and seal the join with long strips of foil, crimping the edges tightly.

If you are using regular baking trays to smoke, line the base and sides of each one with several layers of foil. This will make them easier to clean and minimise tainting.

Alternatively, disposable aluminium trays are available from supermarkets and specialist barbecue shops. Opt for the sturdier ones for ease of handling.

Be precise with your timing, including the amount of time you stand the smoking vessel before you uncover it. Any greater length of time could result in an acrid, unpleasant flavour. We suggest taking the trays outside when uncovering them.

Make sure your woodchips are dry and dense to begin with. Each variety imparts a different flavour, so try experimenting with different ones to find your favourite.

The recipes we've produced here all use a hot-smoking method, where a direct heat source is used. The other method used by some manufacturers of smoked products is cold smoking, where the smoke is created in a chamber separate from the product to be smoked. In this case, the lower the temperature while smoking for a longer period of time, the more smoke flavour will be imparted.

Kettle-style barbecues (such as those made by Weber) are excellent for smoking as you can use them outside and they have a small compact chamber. If you're using any other type of barbecue, check the manufacturer's instructions before building a fire base.


At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people

Drink Suggestion

Barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc.

Featured in

Sep 2010

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