Category Archives: Salad Recipes

Kingfish Ceviche Salad

Photo by Jun Pang

I think that most people think cooking is too hard.  Well here is a recipe to prove that theory wrong.

Most people think that cooking needs heat.  Well, that’s not necessarily true either.

Ceviche is a dish made popular in the Americas, specifically in the South America.  Traditionally, it uses the juices of citrus fruits to “cook” the proteins.  Much like the science experiments you once performed in your high school science classes, when you poured acid on raw egg white and it turned opaque white and hardened.  In this case, the the citric acid from the citrus fruits is slightly acidic enough to cure or cook the proteins of the fish.

In coastal places in Mexico where the seafood is abundant, this type of cooking method is much used and is often sold in plastic cups with ice as street food.  Flavoured mainly by lime juice, it is also spiced with a myriad of chillies, tomato juice, coriander and sliced red onion.  I tasted this genious of a dish a few years ago, not in Mexico unfortunately but in Sydney at a food and cooking expo.  This version had heaps of different seafood like oysters, clams, fish and mussels to name a few and they were all cooked ceviche style using limes and many types of exotic chillies.  Never have I tasted such wonderful, refreshing and interesting flavours.  The Peruvians are experts at this type of food preparation too and so are the Ecuadorians but as mentioned before, the South Americans are generally pros at this type of cooking.

In saying that, I picked up this recipe from a house keeper at work.  She is from Fiji and missed her home country tremendously and wanted me to desperately learn her food so I can cook it for my knowledge and as a trade off, for her to eat.  She told me that in Fiji, she also adds a little coconut milk at the end.  When I tried this, I found it quite nice but I left this recipe quite plain to get punters to get used to this unusual type of cooking.  But what this has done is show me that many countries adopt this type of cooking.  The Japanese use ponzu as the agent to cook protiens in some dishes, Filipinos use a lot of vinegars, tropical countries use limes, lemons and other citrus juices.  This isn’t a new cooking phase, it’s been around for centuries it seems.

So try it out, it’s super healthy with great, robust flavours that explode in your mouth.  As summer hopefully gets nearer, you will realize that it is the perfect dish for summer.  It requires little time, cost effective and it does not require you to use any pans to cook with or clean.

So, for those of you who don’t like to make their kitchens to smell like fish, try this one out.  Try it with other fish, like salmon, experiment as you get used to the flavours and perhaps you will also save on your gas bill!!

Photo by Jun Pang

King Fish Ceviche Salad with Toasted Garlic Bread

Serves 4

For the Ceviche Salad

750gr Fresh Kingfish

1 Cucumber – Quartered lengthways and deseed and thinly sliced

1 Punnet Cherry Tomatoes – halved

½ Red Onion – sliced paper thin

200gr Baby Rocket

2 Bunches Water Cress

1 Bunch Basil

6 Fresh Limes

For the Garlic Bread

2 Freshly Baked Baguette

100gr Brie – leave at room temperature until really soft

100gr Butter – leave at room temperature until really soft

5 Cloves garlic – finely pureed

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Method

For the Salad

  1. If it hasn’t been done by the fish monger, cut out the blood line that runs along the length of the fish, where the spine usually is.  If you do not remove this, the dish will become bitter.
  2. Take the fish and place it flat on the board.  Using a sharp knife, run the knife along the length of skin until you totally remove the skin.  Make sure the knife is “tight” or flush on the board so as not to get too much flesh.
  3. Finely slice the fish into thin slices across the fillet, no more than 1mm thick and place it into a bowl.
  4. Squeeze the lime juice all over the fish, season with sea salt and pepper and mix through with extra virgin olive oil and allow it so sit for about 8-10 minutes in the fridge or until it starts to turn colour turning the surface slightly white
  5. Place the cherry tomatoes, red onion, baby rocket, watercress and basil in the bowl and mix through until evenly mixed

For the Garlic Bread

  1. Place the brie in a mixer and mix in the bowl with a paddle until it’s a smooth paste
  2. Add the butter on low until the brie is well mixed through then take the butter out of the mixer
  3. Using a rubber spatula, mix the garlic and parsley through until thoroughly mixed through
  4. Cut the baguettes in half lengthways, spread the butter through on both sides, well lathered
  5. Toast under the griller until well toasted

Seared Prawns with Noodle Salad, Asian Herbs, Vietnamese Dressing

Photo by Jun  Pang

Time is a major constraint when it comes to cooking.  I know my self that it is hard some times with such a busy life style.  I cook as often as I can but usually it is a massive cook up of wet dishes which I freeze and eat later, this enables me to eat home cooked meals at a minimal cost and time.  Apart from that, I cook really easy stuff like this noodle salad.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use prawns as the recipe suggests or you can choose to use marinated and grilled chicken thigh or breast if you have more time or additionally put more vegetables in like soy beans, snow peas etc and even marinated tofu, the choice is endless.  It is easy, the only real cooking element is the blanching of the noodles and the the searing of the prawns.

The dressing can be made in large batches and can be stored in a jar.  The beauty of this dressing is the longer you leave it, the better the flavour gets and you can save the dressing for months ready for use in not just noodle salad, it can be in any salads like stripped cucumbers and mint, or even in just mixed greens.  So many options, so easy to make!

Seared Prawns with Vermicelli Rice Noodles, Asian Herb Salad, Vietnamese Dressing 

Serves 4

800gr Gulf Prawns

1 Carrot – Peel then using peeler, peel long, thick strips

1 Cucumber – Quarter, deseed length ways and slice on angle

250gr Bag of Bean Sprouts

5tbspn Palm Sugar

¼ cup Water

3 Large Red Chillies

4 Garlic Cloves

1/4cup Fish Sauce

500gr packet of Rice Vermicelli Noodles

1 Bunch Coriander – Pick leaves

1 Bunch Mint – Pick Leaves

1 Bunch Laksa Mint – Pick Leaves

3 Spring Onion – Finely sliced and placed into ice water

Sea Salt

White Pepper

 

Method:

  1. Blanch the noodles in boiling hot water for 1 minute, take off the heat and strain with running cold water to cool it down rapidly.  Set aside until needed
  2. For the dressing, place the palm sugar in a pot with the water and slowly bring up the heat just to dissolve the sugar and set aside to cool down
  3. Pound the chilli and garlic in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste.
  4. Add the chilli/garlic paste to the palm sugar solution.
  5. Add the fish sauce to the dressing to taste.  You may need a little more fish sauce or sugar depending on the balance.
  6. For the prawns, heat up a large heavy bottom pan.  Add oil.
  7. Season the prawns with salt and pepper and seal the prawns on one side for 1 minute then turn to the other side and cook for a further one minute.  Leave slightly undercooked.
  8. Mix the prawns with the cooked noodles and use half the dressing to moisten the noodles.
  9. Mix the carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts to the noodles along with the rest of the dressing.
  10. Place the salad into a bowl and garnish with the mixed herbs and the spring onions which would have curled up from sitting in the ice

 

Photo by Jun Pang


Wholly Duck!!

Photo by Jun Pang

I never used to like duck.  I was never around it all that much growing up.  Filipinos don’t normally cook with duck so I didn’t really discover it until I was cooking in a commercial kitchen.  I assume that most people are the same. Most people I know haven’t really eaten a lot of duck in their lives unless of course it was in a restaurant.

Duck is a “some times” ingredient for many people, often classified to many home cooks in the “too hard” basket.  What do you do with it?  How do you prepare it?  What other ingredients does it go with?  So how do we as chefs expect home cooks to cook with it if they don’t know much about it?

Duck has a slightly “gamey” flavour, with a meat that can sustain a number of cooking methods.  There are several breeds of ducks that are used for cooking, mainly the Muscovy  and the Pekin duck in Australia.  Pekin ducks are the most used, a little less gamier in flavour and the texture is a lot more tender.  The meat on the Pekins are lighter in colour but can sustain and reacts well to most cooking styles.  Bred primarily for domesticated use, Pekin ducks originated from the Mallard, anther breed of duck that is popular in most kitchens.

So how do you use it?  The French love it confited, a type of cooking where the chef slowly cooks it in its own juices or rendered fat.  From this they make several other foods like rillettes, a type of pate served with crispy bread.  The French also make things like terrines, sausages, roulades amongst other things with the most popular dish arguably being, Duck a l’orange which is duck served with a deep, rich orange glaze.

In the East, duck is one of the most favoured ingredients to cook and eat.  Emperors from many Chinese Dynasties have favoured and enjoyed duck.  The most famous of all the dishes being the Peking Duck.  Chinese red roasted duck with thin, crispy and crunchy skin served with thin pancakes and hoisin sauce.

For the home cook, if you want poultry with a difference then try duck.  You can cook with it much like chicken but the duck skin carries a little more fat and the flavour can be a little over powering.  Best way to get around that is to render it down by slowly sealing it on a dry pan, allowing to naturally render the fat down a little so it’s not too strong.  After that, use duck as you would chicken recipes.

The best use of duck is with oranges or mandarins.  Duck and citrus seem to be good friends.  Spices like cinamon and star anise is another match made in heaven.

Try this recipe with a difference.  Its served with a warm potato salad; seems simple, because it is!  

The sweetness of the vincotto goes well with the duck flavour and the goats cheese has this natural way of leavening the palate, making the dish nice and smooth, allowing you to really enjoy the flavours of duck!

 Seared Duck Breast Salad, Buttered Kipfler Potatoes, Dried Fig and Goats Cheese & Vincotto

Serves 4

300gr Castor Sugar

1 Litre Water

500ml Red Wine

4 Star Anise

2 Cinnamon Sticks

120gr Dried Figs

4 Duck Breast

500gr Kipfler Potatoes – boiled until soft

350gr Goats Cheese Curd

1 Bunch Red Butter Lettuce

100gr Butter

Vincotto

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Method

  1. First, make a red wine sugar syrup to poach the figs in.  Combine sugar, water red wine, star anise and cinnamon in a small pot and simmer for about 10 minutes
  2. Add the dried figs into the sugar syrup and poach for about 10 minutes on really low, then allow to cool in the liquid.  This liquid can be used many times
  3. First, heat up a pan for the duck breast on medium high heat for one minute
  4. Season the duck with sea salt and pepper and place into the dry pan skin side down.  The fat from the breast will render and help crisp the skin.  Cook skin side down for at least 10 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy on medium heat then flip on the breast side and cook for a further 8 minutes and set aside.
  5. Heat up the same pan and add the butter on medium heat.  When the butter starts to froth up, add the potatoes and toss through with seasoning, slightly browning.  Once achieved crumble in a bowl
  6. Slice the duck breast and place into the same bowl along with the goats curd cheese.
  7. Slice the figs and add to the bowl and mix through with a drizzle of Vincotto.
  8. Place butter lettuce on the bottom of a plate, then pile some salad on top with even amounts of ingredients in each salad.

Squid Salad

Squid Salad, Tomato and Sweet Chilli

Makes 4

4 Sieds of baby Barramundi – halved and scored

1 kg Squid – cleaned, scored on the inside, tentacles cut into strips

1 litre White Vinegar

400gr Castor Sugar

2 tbspn Dried Red chilli

1 tspn Coriander seeds

2 Cinnamon Sticks

5 Star Anise

1 Punnet Baby Herbs

4 Large Tomatoes – deseeded and sliced

1 Bunch Baby Spinach – washed, stems cut out

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

Method

  1. Place the vinegar, dried chilli, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks and star anise in a pot and reduce to a third or until the consistency of warm honey.  Set aside and allow to cool in a large bowl
  2. Put water to boil then blanch the squid for 30 seconds, drain quickly in a colander then place it straight into the sweet chilli reduction, allowing it cool and marinade at the same time for at least 2 hours, over night is best
  3. Heat up a heavy based frying pan on medium high heat for one minute
  4. Add oil to the pan, season the fish skin side up and place it into the pan
  5. Cok the fish on the skin side for about two minutes or until the flesh starts to turn white then flip it over
  6. Turn the heat off and cook on residual heat
  7. Mix the marinated squid, spinach, tomatoes and herbs in a bowl
  8. Put the fish on the plate, followed by the squid salad

Nicoise Salad – nothing cheffy here, just healthy stuff!

Photo by Jun Pang

Nicoise salad is a salad that is traditionally served with tuna.  Usually, it is a salad of beans, tomatoes, nicoise olives and boiled eggs then served with a vinaigrette.  There’s a lot of speculation as to where it originated and even the great Julia Childs gets a guernsey.

This is easy stuff.  Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re hungry for; you’re hungry but don’t know what to eat.  This is the perfect dish for that moment.  It is easy and you don’t really have to get the kitchen dirty.  It’s fresh and a good healthy alternative.

Tinned tuna is not bad.  Not all things from tins are bad, they just get a bad wrap.  In Spain, the fish come straight from the dock and canned right there on the spot, perfect, can’t get any better or fresher.  Get used to the best brand and yeah, there are good brands out there.  If you are a traditionalist and there are good, decent grade tuna at the fish mongers then use fresh tuna and pan sear it only to medium rare to keep it moist and tender.


Tuna Nicoise Salad

Serve 4

1 Large Tin of Tuna

1 Cucumber – Cut into quarters length ways, sliced

1 Punnet Cherry Tomatoes – Halved

½ Red Onions – Finely Sliced

3 Cups Green Beans – Blanched and refreshed in cold water

6 Eggs – Boiled, peeled and quartered

1/2 Cup Kalamatta Olives

3/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/4  Cup Aged Red Wine Vinegar

3 Tblspn Seeded Mustard

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Method

  1. Drain the tuna well.  You may choose to use fresh tuna if you wish, seasoned and pan fried medium rare.
  2. Place the cucumber, cherry tomatoes, onions, olives and green beans in bowl.
  3. Make a dressing of olive oil, mustard and vinegar and whisk until emulsified and season to taste.
  4. Pour dressing on the salad and season to taste
  5. Arrange on a plate and garnish with boiled eggs

Photo by Jun Pang