Chefs' Recipes

Alex Davies' baked burrata with marinated zucchini and fermented chilli

Baked burrata? You best believe it.

  • 15 mins preparation (plus fermenting)
  • 20 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Having worked on an organic farm for a year, Alex Davies sure knows how to treat a vegetable. A hyper-local devotee, the chef-owner of Gathering in Christchurch, New Zealand sources directly from small organic growers and independent fishermen to make dishes that are reflective of the region and season, a skill he garnered during his time at Napier's Pacifica. He sees Gatherings as more than a restaurant – it's a platform for storytelling, showcasing the hard work that goes into the food before it lands on the plate.
There's no red meat on the menu and the seafood is sustainable, celebrating unsung species. Davies doesn't discriminate when the catch comes in. "Our fixation on specific species is driving them to near extinction," he says. "I don't even give people the option, I just say this is what's available and this is what you're eating."
He feels educating diners on how to appreciate every bit of fish is part of the job, often serving it whole or using different cuts for different dishes – an albacore tuna may be diced into tartare and served with pickled currants, celery and citrus; the rest will become tonnato, served with heirloom tomatoes from an urban garden five minutes away. "I like to serve the food very simply, making it more about the product than the cheffy techniques I can apply," he says. "It highlights the beauty of what we have around us."
The intimacy of the snug space – filled with polished recycled wood tables designed by a friend and romantic posies of dried wildflowers – has a flow-on effect to the food.
"It means we are not making huge demands on the growers and the fishermen," he says. "It also gives us the freedom to change the menu very frequently. It's constantly evolving in some way, shape or form and that's what I really like about it."
Alex Davies, chef and owner of Gatherings.
Here, Davies has shared his recipe for baked burrata wiht marinated zucchini and fermented chilli. "I love the stringy, stretchy texture of cheese on a pizza," he says. "You can make this recipe with any vegetable, in winter I like to use slow- roasted carrots." Begin this recipe five days ahead to ferment the chilli.
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Recipe by Alex Davies, words by Leisha Jones.

Ingredients

  • 300 gm long red chillies, finely chopped (see note)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 burrata (100gm each), drained
  • 2 small zucchini (200gm), thinly sliced lengthways on a mandolin
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • Micro tarragon, lemon rind and charred sourdough flatbread, to serve

Method

  • 1
    To ferment chilli, place 500ml water and 30gm sea salt flakes in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place garlic and chilli in a large wide-mouthed sterilised jar. Pour brine over chilli mixture, cover with plastic wrap and weigh down with a Ziploc bag filled with water. Leave to ferment at room temperature for 5 days or until fermented and gently bubbling.
  • 2
    Once chilli has fermented, drain chilli reserving 100ml liquid. Place chilli mixture in a food processor and process, adding a little reserved liquid to create a paste. Spoon into another sterilised jar and seal with a lid. Makes about 580gm.
  • 3
    Preheat oven to 180ºC. Divide burrata among four 200ml individual ovenproof baking dishes. Bake until burrata has separated and is oozy (5 minutes).
  • 4
    Meanwhile, place zucchini in a bowl and pour over lemon juice. Add 2 tbsp chilli paste and toss gently to combine.
  • 5
    Top baked burrata with marinated zucchini and season. Scatter with tarragon and lemon rind, spoon over fermented chilli and serve with flatbread.

Notes

You can use a mixture of whatever chillies you can get your hands on. Leftover fermented chilli can be used to enhance most things. Fermented chilli will keep refrigerated for 3 months.