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Aløft

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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.

Larb ped (minced duck salad)


You'll need

For shallow-frying: vegetable oil 8 large red shallots, thinly sliced 600 gm coarsely minced duck breasts (about 3 breasts), skin reserved (see note) 15 gm (3cm piece) galangal, sliced 1 tbsp white glutinous rice 2 garlic cloves 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce 1 tbsp light palm sugar, crushed or white sugar ½ cup (firmly packed) coriander, finely chopped ¼ cup (firmly packed) mint, finely chopped, plus extra leaves, to serve 3 tsp roasted dried chilli flakes, or to taste To serve: iceberg lettuce wedges

Method

  • 01
  • Heat vegetable oil in a wok until hot. Add half the shallot and stir occasionally until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper, set aside.
  • 02
  • Add duck skins to oil and turn occasionally until crisp and golden (2-4 minutes), drain on absorbent paper (discard oil), set aside.
  • 03
  • Add duck skins to oil and turn occasionally until crisp and golden (2-4 minutes), drain on absorbent paper (discard oil), set aside.
  • 04
  • Dry-roast galangal in a small frying pan over high heat until fragrant and toasted (4-6 minutes). Pound in a mortar and pestle until finely ground, set aside.
  • 05
  • Add rice to frying pan and cook over high heat, shaking occasionally, until toasted (3-5 minutes). Finely grind in a mortar and pestle, set aside.
  • 06
  • Heat a wok over high heat. Add minced duck and 60ml water and stir continuously until duck is cooked through (3-4 minutes). Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients, ground galangal and 1 tsp ground rice, toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste (it should taste sour and salty) and serve scattered with extra ground rice, fried shallot, duck skins and extra mint, with lettuce wedges.

Note Ask your butcher to mince the duck breasts for you and reserve the skin.


The typical Isaan larb or minced meat salad consists of water buffalo and blood, although you'll find chicken, pork, fish and duck versions. We've used lettuce as an accompaniment here, but you could use a variety of additional sides such as white cabbage, Thai basil, snake beans, cucumber slices, green mango slices and steamed rice.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Pale dry rosé.

Featured in

Feb 2011

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