Tag Archives: Refreshing

Smoked Salmon, Parmesan Filo Wafers

Photo by Joanna Sellick

Photo by Joanna Sellick

Not many words to say here really!

In Adelaide, summer is in full flight and eating gets a little harder!

No one wants “difficult” especially when it’s hot out, people just want “easy” and this recipe is simple, tasty and appetising on a hot Australian summer day.

The use of the filo here is add texture and flavour of parmesan wafers, slightly cramelised and crispy with a slight salty flavour.  The honey counter balances the salt nicely and the cucumber cleans the palate so you can experience the next mouthful cleanly.

This filo wafer can also be used on cheese boards, just add an extra layer or two.  If you change the filo to puff pastry, cut it in long strips and twist it for bread sticks and eat it it with Parma ham and rock melon for a nice summer snack.

Smoked Salmon, Parmesan Filo, Cucumber & Cress Salad, Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 6

720gr Smoked Salmon

15 Sheets of Filo Pastry

150gr Melted Butter

150gr Parmesan Cheese

1tspn Aniseed – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

1tsp Fennel Seeds – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

1tsp Cumin Seed – toasted on dry pan, slightly ground

250ml Greek Yoghurt

100ml Creme Fraiche

1tbsp Honey

250gr Watercress – washed, long stems picked off

1 Cucumber

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)


For the filo wafers

  1. Turn the oven on at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. On a clean bench, spread out the one layer of filo pastry
  3. Brush the pastry completely with melted butter using a pastry brush
  4. Micro plane the parmesan cheese until a thin layer completely covers the surface of the filo
  5. Place another layer of filo on top of this, comepltely covering the first layer
  6. Repeat this process on the new layer of filo
  7. On the top of the third layer, brush with melted butter until completely covered, then sprinkle a little of each of the aniseed, fennel seed and cumin seed, evenly
  8. Place on a buttered roasting pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  It should come out in sheets, break it into smaller wafers ready for service

For the Dressing

  1. Place the yogurt, creme fraiche and honey in a bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula
  2. Taste for balance and see if needs extra honey.  Should be honey sweet, no sweeter!

For the Cucumber

  1. Cut the ends off the cucumber the cut it in half so you end up with two even lengths
  2. Using a mandolin, slice the cucumber lengthways until you hit the seeds, then stop slicing (do not slice into the seeds, it juices out to much and does not hold it’s shape)
  3. Stack the cucumber neatly, one on top of each other as they come out of the mandolin
  4. Finely slice the cucumber across the length, ending up with match stick like batons of cucumber

Plate up

  1. You are going to layer the ingredients starting with a layer of filo wafer on the bottom
  2. Followed by a layer of slightly folded salmon (for height)
  3. Then some water cress
  4. Then a dollop of dressing
  5. Then another layer of filo wafer
  6. Another layer of salmon
  7. Then dressing and finally, the cucumber match sticks for garnish
  8. EVOO around the plate

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


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

Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

I started working as a chef in a hotel that is right next door to the Adelaide Central Markets and China Town.

As a young chef learning their trade, I could not have asked for anything more.  Imagine seeing your states best produce on the walk to work.  Can’t get any more inspiring and educational than that really.  You see the freshest ingredients and also learn about the seasonality of many fresh produce.  You get to talk to vendors and build that ever so important relationship between producers and cooks.

The other thing I loved was being next door to China Town.  Many types of Asian cuisine at its best here and a few of the restaurants in this area are iconic to the locals and well known to a lot of visitors.  One place I loved to hang out before work to eat was at the food hall.

In the early days of my career I was obsessed with laksa.  I went to the Laksa House in the food hall and there wasn’t a day that I missed out on a good bowl of laksa.  I love the Asian soups especially ones with so many complex and rich flavours.  I also like the heat that comes from the chillies and creaminess of the coconut broth.  I remember leaving the food hall with sweat beading off my forehead.  I thoroughly enjoyed those meals but none more than the day after a hard night of pub crawls with the boys, it just cleans you out, sweats out the prior nights damage.

On one occasion the Laksa House was closed and I was forced to find another “hang over cure”.  Desperate, I ordered a soup from the Vietnamese stall.  It was called Bon Bo Huy.  A spicy clear beef broth with rice noodles, beef and a chilli, lemon grass paste that you stir through.  What a find.  I enjoyed the clear, clean flavours of the broth and heat that came with chilli paste.  The broth didn’t leave you feeling heavy, in fact it left me feeling refreshed and not so bloated.  I loved the spice of the chillie paste and freshness that the lemon grass imparts into the broth.  I knew I had found a new love, a new cure for “the day after’ a pub crawl.

As I progressed with my new found love of Bon Bo Huy, I was excited to let one of my Vietnamese chefs know about my love of Vietnamese soups.  She then went on to tell me about Pho, the soup that most Vietnamese people have.  It was more traditional and she told me of a place in Adelaide called Pho 75, a restaurant that only sell several flavours of Pho.  Again, I fell in love with yet another Asian soup.  Pho is again cleaner on flavours, the broth even clearer and lighter yet the flavours of beef very distinct.  The broth is garnished with much of the same such as rice noodles, thinly sliced raw beef, tripe and beef gravy, a cut of beef full of gelatine which once slowly cooked, becomes like soft jelly, much loved and prized by many Asian cuisines.

I now see Pho coming up in a lot of cooking magazines like laksas in it’s hay day.  It seems that a lot of people are now on the Pho bandwagon.    It is good that people are getting out there and getting to know food, but it kind of feels sad because it takes that exclusivity away in a selfish way.  I did really feel the connection with this food and a deeper understanding of it when I went to Vietnam and ate Pho at the very iconic Pho shop, Pho 2000.  On that trip, I fell in love with Vietnamese food in general and especially Pho.

The Iconic Pho 2000 in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City

I make this recipe in large batches, pack into a take away container with the meat already sliced into it.  When it is time for me to eat it, I just buy the noodles and other bits.  Great way to have home cooked meals with out the fuss, perfect for those times when I just don’t have enough hours in the day.


Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

2 Lemons

1kg Beef Bones – ask butcher to cut it into smaller pieces

2 Gravy Beef

3 Brown Cardamoms

3 Cassia Bark

8 Star Anise

200 gr Ginger – Sliced into smaller pieces

4 Large Brown Onions – peeled and large dice

1 pkt of Beef Tendon Balls (available at any Asian Grocer)

1 Red Onion – Finely sliced (paper thin, preferably on a mandolin if possible)

1 pkt Pho Noodles (fresh)

1 pkt Bean Sprouts

1 Bunch Thai Basil


  1. Pre heat oven at 180C.
  2. Soak beef bones and gravy beef in cold water, lemon juice and lemons for ½ an hour.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to boil.
  4. Drain bones and gravy beef from the lemon juice and blanch in boiling water until impurities come out, about 15 minutes.  Drain the bones and beef and wash in cold water.
  5. Roast cardamom, cassia bark, star anise, ginger and onions for 30 minutes at 180C.
  6. Place the blanched bones and beef and all the roasted spices in a 10 litre  pot and fill the pot with cold water and bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and skim all the scum that floats to the top, simmer for 2-3 hours
  7.   In the mean time blanch the noodles similarly to pasta, in salted water and cook until al dente.  Refresh in cold water and set aside.
  8. Slice the tendon balls into 4 pieces.
  9. After 2-3 hours of simmering (or until the gravy beef is tender), strain the stock.  Remove the gravy beef and discard the rest.
  10. Slice the gravy beef into even, thin slices, like discs
  11. It is important to keep this beef submerge in a little stock so as it does not discolour.  Season strain beef stock with salt and white pepper.
  12. In a deep soup bowl, place a small hand full of noodles followed by some sliced tendon balls, a couple of slices of beef gravy and some red onion.
  13. Pour piping hot stock over the ingredients in the bowl and serve with fresh ground white pepper floating on top.
  14. As an accompaniment, serve with Hoi sin and Sriracha chilli sauce (Vietnamese chilli sauce, available in most Asian Grocers) along with Thai basil and bean sprouts.
  15. This dish may also be served with thin sliced raw, lean beef and blanched tripe.