"This dish was pulled together at 2am at home after a long day in the kitchen," says Anchovy chef Thi Le. "There was nothing at home except for a random smattering of condiments. What I love about fermented beancurd is the same thing I love about Vegemite - umami." At Anchovy, Le cures and dries her own tuna (mojama) in brown sugar, spices and soy, and lets it air-dry for a few days.
- 3 bunches (300gm) asparagus, trimmed and cut into batons
- 2 tsp finely chopped dill
- 2 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
- 2 tsp fermented beancurd, or to taste (preferably Lao Gan Ma brand)
- 2 tsp preserved black olive and mustard green paste, finely chopped (see note)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp lime juice, strained
- 1 tsp ginger, squeezed for ½ tsp juice
- ¾ tsp sweet ginger vinegar (see note)
- ¾ tsp rice vinegar
- ¾ tsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp mirin
- 1/8 tsp sesame oil
- 1For fermented beancurd and preserved black olive mayo, whisk mayonnaise and beancurd until smooth, then stir in preserved olive and mustard green paste, and refrigerate to chill (10 minutes).
- 2For sweet ginger dressing, whisk ingredients in a bowl to combine.
- 3Heat a char-grill pan (or barbecue) over high heat. Add asparagus and turn occasionally until charred and tender (2-3 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cool briefly, then add fermented beancurd and black olive mayo, and dill, toss to combine, then drizzle with ginger dressing to taste (remaining dressing will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks and can be used on salads). Serve topped with mojama finely grated on a Microplane.
Mojama is cured, air-dried tuna available from specialty food shops and select fishmongers. Substitute bottarga if it’s unavailable. Preserved black olive and mustard green paste is available from Chinese and Asian supermarkets. To make sweet ginger vinegar combine 2 tbsp caster sugar, 2½ tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp mirin, ½ tsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp sliced ginger in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and just bring to the boil, stirring, then set aside to cool (15-20 minutes) before straining (discard solids). Makes 60ml sweet ginger vinegar.
Drink Suggestion: Jamsheed Harem “Madame Chard” 2015 chardonnay, Coldstream – freshness and complexity as a result of low oak contact, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Drink suggestion by Andrew Barry