Monthly Archives: May 2012

Pan-fried snapper fillets with lemon-herb-mustard asparagus

I am really beginning to enjoy buying my seafood and vegetables from my local wet market. And my two favourite stall owners have stopped laughing at me trying to speak to them in my terrible Mandarin – either my Mandarin is getting better, or they recognise me, either of which is good.

This morning my fish shop had the freshest looking snapper – he kindly filleted both sides of the tail of a large snapper, the rest to be sold as cutlets. Then across from them at my vegetable stall there were the largest, juiciest looking asparagus spears I have seen in ages. I simply had to have them, and so that decided what was for dinner tonight.

Ingredients for two

  1. 2 snapper fillets
  2. 6 large spears of asaragus
  3. 1 tbl lemon juice
  4. 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tsp honey
  6. 1 tsp dijon mustard
  7. 3-4 basil leaves, chopped, plus a few small leaves for garnish
  8. salt and pepper


  1. Normally I would snap the woody ends of asparagus off but these were so big I just trimmed the ends and added the spears to a hot pan, drizzled generously with olive oil and seasoned with salt – I find this method enhances the flavour of the asparagus rather than leaching it out when you boil in water
  2. Turn the asparagus over as they char
  3. While the asparagus is cooking, lightly coat the snapper fillets with oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook on a hot pan, skin side down first, so it crisps up, then flip over and cook the other side until just cooked through – you don’t want to overcook such a beautiful piece of fish
  4. Mix the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, honey, dijon together and whisk till emulsified. Stir through chopped basil
  5. Serve fish with asparagus on the side and drizzle the mustard dressing over the asparagus with a few fresh basil leaves to garnish


Sokyo, Sydney

Grain fed Rangers Valley sirloin with hon shimeji mushrooms and a lime black pepper jus

Chef Chase Kojima helms the counter at this slick new restaurant in Pyrmont, Sydney. It’s clear that his time working at Nobu restaurants around the world have been a strong influence on him as he brings modern Japanese cuisine to Sydney

The staff in this buzzy restaurant are attentive and knowledgeable and they selected dishes for us to be shared at the table. Our waiter explained that the dishes would follow the order of the menu – starting with sashimi, then tempura, grilled dishes from the robata, and finally sushi (we skipped soup and salad).

Hokkaido scallop sashimi with yuzu honey dressing and crunchy miso

Our waiter either clearly knew what we wanted from chatting with us, or all the food served there is outstanding. I like to think a bit of both.

Kingfish ceviche with green chilli and crispy potato

We started with Kingfish miso ceviche and scallops. I guess with great access to superbly fresh seafood, both of these were going to be great anyway, with the Kingfish a classic ceviche, marinated in lemon and green chilli and topped with crispy potato strips. The scallops came thinly sliced, dressed with yuzu honey and topped with crunchy miso. The citrusy yuzu dressing and the saltiness of the miso brought out the sweetness of the beautiful Hokkaido scallops.

Snapper tempura with black pepper and green chilli vinegar

Next up was the tempura. One of my favourites of the evening was lightly tempura’d snapper fillets that came with an insanely good black pepper and green chilli vinegar dipping sauce. We also had asparagus with a truffle poke sauce and edamame dip.

Beef short ribs with caramalised eschallots and kurubota pork belly with spicy shirodashi and yuzukosho

From the robata, beef short ribs with caramised eschallots and a BBQ terriyaki sauce, tsukune chicken with shallots and a pineapple ginger sauce, octopus with a Peruvian glaze and sirloin with foie gras, fig and a plum wine soy. To be honest, the sauces here I think overpowered the dishes, but each of the meats was so perfectly cooked. I particularly remember the melt in your mouth texture of the short ribs and how tender the octopus was. We also had kurubota pork belly, with spicy shirodashi and yuzukosho (a paste from chilli peppers, yuzu peel and salt), grain fed Rangers Valley sirloin with hon shimeji mushrooms and lime black pepper jus and a classic, miso cod. Yes, we may have ordered too much.

“Queensland roll” – spanner crab, spicy avocado sushi wrapped in soy paper

We then moved to the sushi course of “Queensland roll” – a roll made with spanner crab, spicy avocado, and soy paper, and spicy tuna with crispy rice, truffle salt and a spicy mayo. Maybe I am partial to seafood but I love that the food ended on something lighter. Both these again let the seafood shine, especially the crab in the Queensland roll.

The meal finished with a selection of desserts all of which were great (my favourite was the fondant). I think desserts deserve a separate post, each a little piece of delicious art. And a wonderfully sweet way to end a fantastic meal.

Ground floor, the Darling
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Tel: 61 2 9777 9000

Lunch: Fri-Sat 12pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: Mon-Thu 6pm – 10:15pm
Fri & Sat 6pm – 11:15pm
Sunday closed

Happy Mother’s Day !

My mum’s tomato salad with cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, goat’s feta and mint

I was fortunate to be in Sydney with my Mum on Mother’s Day over the weekend. Sydney put on the most spectacular weather for us and we decided on such a glorious day we would have fresh oysters and prawns from the Sydney Fish Markets, and enjoy them on the balcony with a bottle of champagne.

While dad and I were out buying the seafood, Mum made us the best tomato salad for lunch. Simple and delicious, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Cherry tomatoes in red, yellow, green and brown, each with a slightly different taste, kalamata olives, goat’s feta, olive oil and mint.

It looked so good on the plate you began eating it with your eyes. Thanks Mum – so glad to have been able to spend the afternoon with you (and of course Dad too !).

I hope everyone else had as wonderful a Mother’s Day with their families and wish all Mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day !


Perfectly coddled egg with black truffles in a rich pea soup

This amazing restaurant is sadly closed – I’m still puzzled at why Marina Bay Sands closed it, but there you go. So although we will not be able to go back to Santi, I did want to record down the incredible meal we had there so that I am able to remind myself why we will be visiting the family’s original restaurant Can Fabes in Catalonia later this year when we head to Spain.

We ordered the tasting menu that started with bowls of gazpacho with flecks of uni – sea urchin roe – that was an explosion of the taste of tomatoes and the sea. Who would have thought they would go together but the silkily smooth gazpacho exactly matched the texture of the uni and rather than the two flavours battling to overpower each other, they simply complemented each other and seemed to bring out the flavour of the other even more.

Bluefin tuna with avocado, green apple sticks and foam and balsamic reduction

Next up was delicate Bluefin tuna (that the waiter advised was farmed) with cubes of avocado, green apple sticks and foam and balsamic reduction. Again, flavours that I would never dream of pairing together but worked in perfect harmony on the plate.

Next up was a vibrant green pea soup that had been ladled over a perfectly poached egg and topped with black truffles. We ordered an additional plate of jamón ibérico de Bellota  – the best Iberican ham made on the planet – and ate our own fancy version of ham and eggs and mushrooms. Again, food that is so beautifully presented that you begin to eat it with your eyes before the payoff of taste.

Foie gras and lobster with poached nectarine and balsamic reduction

Foie gras and lobster in a balsamic reduction and poached nectarines was served next. All bold flavours that again managed to complement rather than compete on the plate and in your mouth.

Signature suckling pig with celeriac confit on baby turnips and grilled mushrooms

Santi’s signature suckling pig with celeriac confit on baby turnips and grilled mushrooms came next. This was the one dish that I was gagging all evening to try and it did not disappoint. Meltingly tender meat encased in thin crispy skin – absolute perfection. And a perfectly sized portion so that juuust as you were about to think it was too rich, you’d just had your last mouthful.

Green apple salvation refresher

And a perfect time to serve their green apple salvation refresher. Perfect name to describe this dish – even the palate cleanser was a standout.

Dessert of strawberries and blood oranges

We had a choice of desserts and I chose the strawberries with blood orange. This came topped with a quenelle of the green apple ice-cream, a wafer thin slice of dehydrated apple and basil. A wonderfully light end to a spectacular meal.

Santi was a genius. And we’re grateful that the legacy of this great late chef remains – if not at Marina Bay Sands any more, then at least back in Spain. And one restaurant where we will be definitely be dining at in October this year.

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse

Open just three months, Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse on Mohamed Sultan Road specialises in authentic Tuscan cuisine, including bistecca fiorentina – charcoal-grilled T-Bone steak that weighs in at more than 1kg.

The deliciously tender fillet steak

I’d like to go with a huge group of people, just so that we could order everything on the menu. There are plenty of options for non-steak-lovers, but both of us were in a beefy mood, so we decided on the fillet steak instead of the bistecca. We could then order our steaks as we preferred (mine was medium rare, D medium). The beef is organic, dry-aged Australian Wagyu-Holstein. Highly marbled, the thick fillet steak came out perfectly cooked, and so tender you could have used a butter knife to cut through it. And it tasted so good that you didn’t either of the two condiments that each steak comes with. The steaks don’t come with anything – we were recommended the mashed potatoes but decided on char-grilled asparagus with lemon oil which came out as five thick spears, perfectly cooked so that they still had some crunch to them.

Char-grilled asparagus with lemon oil

We shared a starter of heirloom tomatoes, rocket, burrata and parma ham. I think tomatoes are one of the basics that any good restaurant should have access to, and the heirloom tomatoes in our starter tasted like they had just been plucked off a vine basking in the Southern Italian sun. The acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes was perfectly balanced with the creaminess of the burrata, the pepperiness of the rocket and the saltiness of the parma ham.

Chocolate lava cake with candied orange peel

We wisely shared the first course, because we then had space for dessert. I had the chocolate lava cake with candied orange peel and D had the chocolate mousse tart with salty caramel. A small and beautifully sweet way to end a splendid meal.

Chocolate mousse tart with salted caramel

A true taste of Italy that took us back to our recent trip to Florence, this is definitely a place we’ve earmarked to go back to for more.

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse
25 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: +65 6735 6739

Chickpea and lentil curry

A really simple curry that you can get on the table in 20 minutes with the help of some pre-blended curry spices. You can get curry pastes in jars, or powders – I had Sharwood’s medium curry powder in my pantry which I used. Look for a spice mix with coriander, cumin, tumeric, paprika, cinnamon, fennel, cardamon – the usual Indian spices.

Ingredients makes 4-6 portions

  1. 3 tbs neutral oil, I use macadamia
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. thumb sized piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  4. 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
  5. 5 tbl curry powder
  6. 400ml coconut cream
  7. 1 tbs concentrated chicken stock (or 1 stock cube if you don’t have access to the concentrated stuff)
  8. 6 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
  9. 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  10. 200g cooked lentils (I used 100g brown lentils that I cooked to make 200g but you could also used tinned lentils – just drain and rinse them too)
  11. For garnish, big dollop of plain yoghurt, chopped fresh coriander and sliced red chilli


  1. Fry the onions in the oil till translucent
  2. Add ginger and garlic and fry for 3 minutes
  3. Add the curry powder (or paste if you’re using this) and fry on high heat for 3 minutes
  4. Add the coconut cream, chicken stock and kaffir lime leaves, bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  5. This next step may seem odd but I actually think it’s necessary with this type of vegetarian curry where you want to eat everything in the bowl – strain the curry
  6. Use the back of a spoon to push the ingredients through the sieve – you want to extract as much flavour from the cooked ingredients as possible
  7. Pour the strained curry back into the pot, season with salt to taste
  8. Add in the chickpeas and lentils and bring to a gentle simmer
  9. Serve hot with the yoghurt, coriander and chilli and you can either eat it on it’s own or over some basmati rice