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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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Pea and ham soup

Poached chicken and coconut salad with smoked quail’s eggs and Asian herbs


You'll need

1 chicken (about 1.1kg) 10 quail’s eggs, at room temperature 150 gm hickory woodchips 425 ml coconut milk 50 gm soft light palm sugar 45 ml fish sauce 25 ml coconut vinegar (see note) 25 ml lime juice 150 gm (1 cup) shaved fresh coconut 160 gm (2 cups) bean sprouts, trimmed 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced 2 red shallots, thinly sliced 1 cup each (loosely packed) Thai basil, Vietnamese mint and coriander 35 gm (¼ cup) peanuts, coarsely chopped ¼ cup fried shallots To serve: thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves   Master stock 3 litres (12 cups) chicken stock 300 ml Shaoxing wine 150 gm yellow rock sugar (see note) 150 ml light soy sauce 75 ml dark soy sauce 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 6 star anise 4 spring onions, coarsely chopped 3 pieces dried mandarin peel (see note) 3 pieces cassia bark 2 cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced

Method

  • 01
  • For master stock, simmer ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat for 30 minutes to combine flavours. Set aside to infuse (30 minutes), strain (discard solids) and bring to the simmer in a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat.
  • 02
  • Add chicken to master stock, weight with a small plate, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool chicken completely in master stock, then remove from stock (discard stock or reserve for another use), coarsely shred meat (discard skin, bones and sinew) and set aside.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, cook quail’s eggs in a saucepan of simmering water for 2 minutes, refresh and peel. Double-line a wok with foil, place woodchips in wok and heat over medium-high heat until smoking (6-8 minutes). Place quail’s eggs on a wire rack small enough to fit in wok. Cover wok completely with foil to enclose and smoke eggs until light brown (6-8 minutes), then set aside. Halve eggs just before serving.
  • 04
  • Stir coconut milk, palm sugar and fish sauce in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until reduced by two-thirds (20-25 minutes). Cool, add vinegar and lime juice, season to taste and set aside.
  • 05
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter coconut on an oven tray and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden (10-12 minutes), then set aside to cool.
  • 06
  • Combine remaining ingredients (except lime leaves) in a large bowl with chicken and toasted coconut, drizzle with coconut milk dressing, toss to combine and serve scattered with smoked’s quail eggs and kaffir lime leaves.
Note Coconut vinegar, yellow rock sugar and dried mandarin peel are available from select Asian grocers.

This recipe is from the April 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people

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