A deep interest in the nuts and bolts of cuisine informed Ben Devlin's cooking even before he left his native Queensland for a two-year stretch in the kitchen at Noma. Grains and fermenting, bread and beer are among his fascinations, and now at Paper Daisy, the restaurant set in the luxe confines of boutique hotel Halcyon House at Cabarita Beach on the north coast of New South Wales, Devlin has immersed himself further in the study of local and indigenous ingredients. "I've started to use pipis more frequently over the last couple of years, and I've found the creaminess and savoury flavour of the macadamia milk makes a great sauce to carry and enhance their subtle flavour," he says. "The resilient texture of pici works well here - the pipi shells tend to damage thinner varieties of pasta. Substitute clams here if you can't get good pipis." Start this recipe a day ahead to make the macadamia milk.
- 200 gm macadamia nuts
- 100 gm peeled pomelo (about 1/8 of a pomelo), broken into small cells
- 80 ml macadamia oil (1/3 cup)
- 2 good pinches of ground native pepper (see note)
- 600 gm pipis, cleaned
- 300 gm podded peas (about 900gm unpodded)
- 75 ml dry sake
- 4 lemon myrtle leaves (see note)
- 75 gm samphire or Coorong seablite (see note)
- 75 gm warrigal greens (see note)
- 75 gm mustard greens (see note)
- 180 gm fine semolina flour, plus extra for trays
- 180 gm plain flour
- 1 tbsp macadamia oil
- 1Process macadamias with 250ml water in a blender, then refrigerate to rest (as long as possible, preferably overnight). Place mixture in a clean damp tea towel in a bowl, bring the corners together, twist, then squeeze very firmly to extract milk without pulp coming through; you should get 150ml if squeezed well. The best part is at the end when it’s thick and oily, and the pulp is very dry. Refrigerate milk until required (discard solids). Milk will keep refrigerated for 2 days.
- 2For pici dough, combine flours and a good pinch of salt in a large bowl or electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the middle, add oil, then, mixing continuously with your hands, gradually add 190ml room-temperature water, until you have a firm dough. Knead on a flour-dusted surface (or in mixer) until smooth and elastic (5-7 minutes), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. Divide dough in half and roll each into a 5mm-thick rectangle on a flour-dusted surface. Cut 5mm-wide strips from each then, with lightly oiled fingers, roll each strip back and forth in opposite directions with both hands, starting at the centre and carefully rolling outwards, so you end up with long, thin cylinders about 3mm wide. Place on a tray dusted with semolina and repeat with remaining strips.
- 3Combine pomelo, 50ml macadamia oil and a good pinch of native pepper in a bowl.
- 4Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (3-4 minutes; depending on how much the pasta has dried, this may take a little more or less time). Drain and reserve.
- 5Combine pipis, peas, sake, lemon myrtle and a pinch of native pepper in a bowl. Heat remaining macadamia oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over high heat until hot, then carefully add pipi mixture, cover immediately and shake pan, checking occasionally, until pipis have opened (1½-3 minutes). Add pasta to pipis along with 150ml macadamia milk and cook uncovered until milk thickens the sauce and glazes the pasta (1-2 minutes). Remove lemon myrtle from pan, add green leaves and toss to wilt slightly (10-15 seconds). Serve in bowls and dress with pomelo dressing to taste.
Native pepper (Tasmanian pepperberry), samphire, seablite (also known as sea spray) and warrigal greens are available from farmers’ markets and select grocers (for stockists see outbackpride.com.au). Lemon myrtle plants are available from native nurseries and may need to be ordered ahead. Mustard greens are available from exportfresh.com.au or need to be ordered ahead through your local greengrocer. Or ask your greengrocer for a spicy-flavoured leaf, such as red or green elk, mizuna, baby tatsoi or Osaka purple mustard.
Drink Suggestion: Umami-rich yamahai sake.