Chefs' Recipes

Alla Wolf-Tasker's local yabbies, farm cucumbers, dill and whey dressing

A simple starter of freshwater yabbies with fresh herbs and a silky whey dressing.

By Alla Wolf-Tasker
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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"We're a long way from the sea so freshwater fish often makes an appearance on our menu," says Alla Wolf-Tasker, executive chef of Dairy Flat Farm in Daylesford, central Victoria. "The yabbies are netted for us by local farmers who are keen on getting rid of them because of the damage they do to dam walls."

Ingredients

  • 12 yabbies
  • 2 small Lebanese cucumbers, diced
  • 4 baby cucumbers, sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill, plus dill flowers to serve
  • 50 gm butter
Herb oil
  • 1½ cups (firmly packed) soft herbs such as parsley, tarragon and chervil
  • 300 ml grapeseed or other neutral oil
Mustard-whey dressing
  • 150 ml whey (reserved from ricotta recipe)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 250 ml grapeseed or other neutral oil

Method

  • 1
    Place yabbies in freezer to anaesthetise (20-30 minutes). Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to the boil over medium-high heat. Add yabbies and cook until bright orange and flesh is just set (2-3 minutes). Drain, then refresh immediately in a large bowl of iced water. Working with one yabby at a time, hold and lift the middle flap on the tail and lightly twist from side to side to loosen. Carefully remove tail flap, pulling out the intestinal tract with it. Twist the tail and head in opposite directions to separate then remove tail meat from shell and place on a tray lined with paper towel. Set aside. Repeat with remaining yabbies and refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    For herb oil, blanch herbs in boiling water until bright green (10-20 seconds). Refresh in iced water, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Transfer herbs to blender with oil and blend on high speed until smooth (8 minutes). Allow mixture to slowly drip through an oil filter or damp Chux cloth (15-20 minutes). Gently squeeze excess oil from herbs once most of oil has dripped through. Store in a glass container in a dark cool place for up to 5 days.
  • 3
    For mustard-whey dressing, whisk whey, mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Gradually add oil in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with
    salt and more sugar if needed. Combine cucumbers, dill and about 80ml (⅓ cup) dressing in a bowl and season to taste. (Leftover dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.)
  • 4
    Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat until foaming then add yabbies and stir gently just until warmed through (2 minutes) then drain on paper towel and season to taste. Serve yabbies with cucumber salad, scattered with dill flowers and drizzled with a little herb oil.