Photography by Salty Dingo
-Apple crisps with smoked salmon pâté, kimchi
-Spiced fish cakes, tamarind chutney, tomato jam
-Green tea onigiri, torched kingfish, finger lime caviar
From the sea:
-Greenlip abalone, apple, garlic, sea parsley and black pepper
-Blue swimmer crab salad, avocado lassi, watercress, curry leaves, capers
-Hervey Bay scallops, creamed nettles and chardonnay butter
Tuna steak, vakalolo, snake beans, kara boondi and coriander oil
Wattalapan, love cake ice cream
Coffee, tea and Ceylon Arrack chocolate truffles
Tuna steak, vakalolo, snake beans, kara boondi and coriander oil
Serves six as a main course
Seared tuna is the star of this dish, with dollops of beautiful sauces atop it and vakalolo sauce surrounding it. Buy the tuna the day before, rolling the steaks and wrapping them up, leaving them refrigerated overnight to set the shape.
6 200 g tuna steaks, taken from the shoulder centre. The thickness will depend on the size of the fish: if it is a small fish then divide into 100 g steaks so you don’t end up with long barrel shapes.
200 g snake beans
Tamarind chutney *
Pakistani chilli lime pickle purée *
Warrigal green purée *
Kara boondi *
Fried curry leaves
Coriander oil *
Vakalolo sauce *
1. A day in advance, season the steaks with salt and pepper, roll them, wrap and refrigerate.
2. In a pre-heated skillet with a little oil at smoking point, sear the tuna on each side, and finish in the oven for three to five minutes.
3. Fry the snake beans in the same pan.
4. Place the tuna steaks on dinner plates with four dollops each of the ta marind chutney, warrigal purée and lime pickle purée.
5. Sprinkle the kara boondi on top.
6. Add six pieces of snake beans to each dish, and garnish with the curry leaves and nasturtiums.
7. Sprinkle coriander oil over the fish, and serve.
8. At the table, pour the vakalolo sauce around the fish.
*For the recipes for vakalolo sauce, tamarind chutney, kara boondi, coriander oil, Pakistani chilli lime pickle purée, and Warrigal green purée, see below.
Pakistani chilli lime pickle purée (prepare a week in advance)
200 g green chillies
3 tbsp mustard seeds
1½ tsp turmeric powder
10 large limes
200 ml grape seed or rice bran oil
25 g coarse sea salt (to taste)
1. Grind mustard seeds to a coarse powder. Cut limes into eight pieces. Slit green chilies, and cut them into two-centimetre pieces.
2. Mix the powdered mustard seeds, turmeric powder and salt with green chillies and lime pieces.
3. Transfer this to a sterilised glass bottle or an earthenware jar. Pour oil on top and shake well. Cover with a muslin cloth, and keep it somewhere dark but with air flow.
4. Stir the contents of the jar at least once a day for a few days. The pickles will be ready within five to six days of preparation.
5. Pour the finished pickles and the liquid into a blender, and purée until smooth. Place in a piping bag, and set aside.
Vakalolo sauce (prepare a few hours in advance)
2 white onions, sliced
large ginger knob, about 5cm
4 sticks lemongrass
1 head garlic
2 bongo chillies
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
200 g fish trim (tuna offcuts are fine)
1 bunch coriander stems
4 400 g tins coconut cream
salt and lime juice to season
1. Sauté onions, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, ginger, and coriander stems until fragrant and slightly caramelised.
2. Add tomatoes and fish trim; sauté for a minute before adding coconut cream. Bring to a boil and season with salt and lime juice to taste.
3. Strain the sauce through chinois; set aside until ready to serve.
Tamarind chutney (can be prepared up to a year in advance)
450 g tamarind pulp
150 g ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
30 g crushed garlic
30 g peeled young ginger, thinly sliced
650 g raw sugar
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
350 ml white vinegar
2 sprigs curry leaves, leaves picked
30 g black mustard seeds
1. Soak the tamarind in 350 ml of warm water for five minutes, then push through a fine sieve and discard any fibres. Set aside.
2. Heat half the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan over low to medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic and ginger for three to five minutes or until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the tamarind water, sugar, chilli flakes and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring continuously, for one hour or until the mixture has reduced by about three-quarters and is thick and pulpy.
4. Heat the remaining ghee in a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the curry leaves and mustard seeds, and shake the pan until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Immediately pour the seed mixture into the tamarind mixture, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a bowl and cool.
6. Season the chutney to taste with salt, then spoon into two 500-ml-capacity sterilised jars and seal, reserving just enough to fill a piping bag.
Tamarind chutney will keep for one year.
Coriander oil (begin a few hours in advance)
50 g coriander leaves
25 g flat-leaf parsley
75 ml olive oil
75 ml vegetable oil
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the coriander and parsley leaves in a strainer, and plunge into the boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water. Drain the herbs, wrap in a clean tea towel and gently squeeze dry.
2. Roughly chop the herbs, and place in a blender with the olive oil. Whiz until the leaves break down, then add the vegetable oil and whiz again for one minute at high speed.
3. Leave for several hours to drain naturally through dampened muslin or a coffee filter.
Warrigal green purée:
150 g warrigal greens
salt and white pepper to taste
¼ tsp Xanthum gum
1. Plunge the warrigal greens in boiling water for 20 seconds, then shock them in ice water. Drain the greens, saving some of the water.
2. Purée the greens and reserved water in a blender until smooth. Keep the blender going and add the Xanthum gum until the mixture becomes silky.
3. Season, stir, and then pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.
Place in a small piping bag for service.
1 cup besan flour (chickpea flour)
2 tbsp rice flour (idiyappam flour)
1 tsp + 1 tsp red chilli powder
Spring curry leaves
1 tbsp broken or coarsely chopped cashew nuts
2 tsp grape seed or rice bran oil, plus enough for deep frying
4 tbsp peanuts
1 pinch hing or asafoetida
salt to taste
1. In a mixing bowl, add besan flour, rice flour, hing, 1 tsp red chilli powder and salt.
2. Add a little water to make a thick paste. Gradually add more water to form a flowing batter, which should still be thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. The batter consistency is important, since it needs to form perfect balls when dropped in the oil. If it’s too loose, the balls will form tails.
3. Add the 2 tsp oil, which will ensure the batter pours smoothly.
4. Pour the remaining oil into a frying pan and heat to 180 degrees. Drop the batter in perfect rounds into the oil.
5. Cook evenly by frying to a golden brown on both sides. The batter should make a ‘shh’ sound while cooking. Once fully golden brown and the sound ceases, remove the balls from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the batter is used.
6. Fry peanuts, cashews and curry leaves in the same oil until crisp, and set aside.
7. In a mixing bowl, add the prepared boondis, remaining teaspoon of red chilli powder, and the curry leaves and nut mixture, plus salt if needed. Toss them to combine.
Wattalapan (coconut cashew custard)
Makes 12 individual serves or one large tin
1.1 kg jaggery (dark palm sugar) 500 ml coconut milk
375 ml water
1⁄2 tsp grated nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp powdered cardamom seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1⁄4 tsp powdered cloves
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
125 g slightly roasted and chopped cashew nuts
Edible flowers and love cake ice cream to serve *
1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
2. Grate the jaggery and melt it with the water and all the spices above. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Lightly beat the eggs. Don’t whip them; just mix together until combined, with as few bubbles as possible. Pour the melted jaggery into the beaten egg mixture and beat again.
4. Add the coconut milk and mix gently. Strain the mixture into a bowl.
5. Place 160ml of the mixture into individual ovenproof dishes, and place in the oven in a double boiler for 30–40 minutes, sprinkling the cashew nuts on top about halfway through cooking.
6. To serve, place the roasted and chopped nuts and some edible flowers onto one side of the bowl. Top with a quenelle of ice cream.
*For the love cake and love cake ice cream recipes, see below.
10 egg yolks
300 g sugar
250 g semolina
125 g butter
185 g chopped cashews
300 g grated pumpkin preserve (available at Sri Lankan grocers)
40 ml rose water
40 g honey
zest of 1 lemon
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
2. Soften the butter and mix with the semolina.
3. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together, but don’t whip them. Add semolina mix.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until blended.
5. Pipe the mixture into trays lined with baking paper.
6. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until firm to touch.
7. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Love cake ice cream:
1,300 g love cake (500 g to blend, 800 g chopped into pieces)
1,600 ml milk
30 egg yolks
400 g sugar
1,800 ml cream
1. Heat love cake and 800 ml milk in a pan until warm.
2. Pour into a heat-safe blender bowl and blend until smooth with the remaining 800 ml milk.
3. Cream the yolks and sugar together.
4. Strain the love cake and milk mixture, and pour into the yolks and eggs mixture.
5. Place the mixture in a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and glossy.
6. Add cream, stir, and place in an ice cream maker to churn according to machine’s instructions.
7. Once churned, add love cake pieces.