Goodbye 2015 ~ A Feast For Our Tummies

Goodbye 2015 - A Feast For Our Tummies

Time passes really quickly when you are having a good time but we prefer to say
time passes really quickly when there is so much food and so little time!

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

Cover image above: Old and new recipes which we cooked at home in 2015. Here are nine recipes among so many of our favourites.

Top row L-R: Kingfish sashimi with flying fish roe strawberry, basil and verjuice dressing; Roast chicken a la king with buttered rice, one of so many 1970s faves; Oxtail spagbol.
Middle row L-R: Vietnamese-inspired oxtail pho with rice noodle soup; Malaysian style fish ball noodles with crispy pork lard; Chilled beef tripe salad with coriander and chilli, lemon juice and crispy garlic dressing.
Bottom row L-R: Malaysian style Ipoh hor fun with prawns & chicken; Indonesian style spicy oxtail soup; Malay style fried chicken with curry leaves and spices.

Waving goodbye to 2105 cracker year of good food, we are looking forward to more deliciousness 2016!!

2015 – it was a year of discovering new restaurants in Sydney’s ever-changing dining landscape and being inspired by the litany of talented chefs, providores and food lovers in our beautiful city. It was a year where the excitement of cutting-edge restaurant food is mixed with the warmth of our home recipes.

As I write this blog post, I feel tremendous gratitude reliving the fresh ingredients we cooked with each day. Thank you Sydney!! Your passion for great produce fuels our respect and responsibility for transforming such beautiful ingredients into equally beautiful meals. Last but not least, thank you, our dear readers for joining us in our food escapades.

Great food and wine taste even better when they are shared with good friends! So here they are … a recap of our favourite home cooking, new restaurants and all things that make our tummies growl with anticipation and pleasure … enjoy!

Goodbye 2015 ~ A Feast For Our Tummies

Momofuku Seibo's beef, radish, fermented black bean

Momofuku Seibo’s beef, radish, fermented black bean

Momofuku Seibo at The Star in Sydney is celebrity chef David Chang‘s first restaurant outside of New York City.

Making its debut back in 2011 to rapturous fanfare, I was determined to let the hype cool but one dish that tantalized my taste buds is the heavy umami taste of fermented black bean powder against thinly sliced red, white and yellow radish.

Small half centimetre cubes of wagyu beef and watermelon hidden under this coral of radish were sweet and savoury revelation.

Hawker's char kway teow

Hawker’s char kway teow

Mamak‘s sister restaraurant Hawker joint the splurge of Malaysian restaurants that hit Sydney with such gusto over the last few years.

Its char kway teow tasted like a salt bin at the beginning but they have listened to customer feedback. Thin noodles, no pesky chicken slices, fish cake or deep fried spring onions and fresh shallots as garnish have caught my attention and eventually, my respect. What this plate of noodles has is oodles of crispy pork lard, fresh cockles and loads of spicy attitude and wok hei.

To me, this is arguably one of Australia’s finest at the moment.

Indonesian Oxtail Soup or Sup Buntut

Indonesian Oxtail Soup or Sup Buntut

2015 was a year where I experimented with food I fondly remember from childhood.

Growing up in Malaysia, I remember Indonesian style oxtail soup served in air-conditioned, pseudo Western-style steakhouses in Kuala Lumpur. It’s one way to combat humidity in the tropics while indulging in a hearty home style soup.

Rich and gently spicy with a blend of carrot, tomato, onion, ginger, spices and herbs, this heart-warming soup has kept us toasty during the winter months. Garnished with fresh coriander leaves and home-made deep fried shallots, this awesome sup buntut is not going to stop me searing chunks of oxtail this coming summer.

This soup has made me realize how lucky I am to be cooking in Australia. Sup buntut in Indonesia, Malaysia and other South East Asian countries often see oxtail sliced in half through the bone rather than cleanly on the knuckle joint as we find in our butchers. Oxtail is a cheaper cut of meat and higher restaurant prices for whole oxtail joints are harder to justify in poorer Asian countries.

Chef Guillaume Zika of Cottage Point Inn

Chef Guillaume Zika of Cottage Point Inn

We had the pleasure of meeting executive chef Guillaume Zika at Cottage Point Inn, a restaurant in the northern beaches of Sydney that deservedly bagged two hats in the latest edition of Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Line-caught snapper carpaccio

Line-caught snapper carpaccio

Chef Zika’s line-caught snapper carpaccio is swimming in a pool of strawberry sauce vierge, basil and finger lime. For me, this kind of dish should be a no-brainer in summer with our abundance of fresh seafood.

Fresh scampi from Sydney Fish Market

Fresh scampi from Sydney Fish Market

The fresh seafood complements beautifully with the sweetness of strawberries and tangy pops of finger lime.

Deep sea bream, scampi and octopus sashimi

Deep sea bream, scampi and octopus sashimi

Chef Zika’s carpaccio has since become our inspiration for fresh sashimi that is easily replicated at home with our favourite vinaigrette dressings.

Fresh king prawns from Sydney Fish Market

Fresh king prawns from Sydney Fish Market

The Sydney Fish Market gets better each year with so much variety of fresh seafood. As hard as I tried, I could not find a single blemish in these huge king prawns.

Fresh king prawns stuffed with herb butter

Fresh king prawns stuffed with herb butter

Home-made herb butter is always plentiful in our freezer. Combined with a generous drizzle of olive oil, these prawns are difficult to beat even in the best of Sydney restaurants.

Dan Hong's prawn toast with mayonnaise, coriander and mint

Dan Hong’s prawn toast with mayonnaise, coriander and mint

Another one of our favourite childhood snacks is the humble prawn toast. Sadly, I found Malaysian style prawn toast lacking in creativity and flavour even in one of the best Chinese restaurants. Its style has not evolved and it remains the meek and thin slices of prawn toast I remember from yesteryear.

Executive chef at Sydney’s Mr. Wong, Dan Hong has improvised his western influence on an Asian classic. His Vietnamese heritage uses French baguette, a good squiggle of kewpie mayo topped with a trio of coriander, mint and shallot leaves in Vietnamese nuoc cham dressing. This prawn toast has since become another one of our favourite home recipes in 2015.

Easter weekend at Callala Beach, Jervis Bay

Easter weekend at Callala Beach, Jervis Bay

Over the Easter break, we spent three fun-filled days with friends in a beach house down at Callala beach in the South Coast.

Long walks along the beach, volleyball and best of all, cooking and eating were highlights of a blissful weekend.

Nasi lemak bungkus from Naan Corner, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nasi lemak bungkus from Naan Corner, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A trip to Kuala Lumpur was spent with long-time friends from high school and of course, indulging in the best street food that Malaysia has to offer.

Among so many, the humble packet nasi lemak with its gutsy sambal remains one of my favourites.

Curry laksa with chicken and cockles from Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Curry laksa with chicken and cockles from Madras Lane, Kuala Lumpur

Spiciness is still a mainstay in Malaysian cuisine and the curry laksa at Madras Lane in Chinatown with its gritty and piquant soup is one of the best in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia's best Sarawak Laksa

Malaysia’s best Sarawak laksa

The East Malaysian state of Sarawak is the pepper capital of Malaysia and possibly the world so it is no wonder this laksa takes on peppery flavours.

The revelation here is an incomparable bowl of laksa cooked by my childhood friend Priscilla. Huge king prawns, tofu puffs, fish cakes in a rich, spicy broth punctuated with lemongrass, onion, galangal, chilli and pepper makes this Sarawak laksa in a class of its own.

Seared scallop, guanciale and pumpkin puree

Seared scallop, guanciale and pumpkin puree

Cottage Point Inn deserves special mention because its food is sublime and its panoramic water views across a location tucked away in a far-flung corner of the Hawkesbury river totally idyllic.

On our second visit, chef Zika has changed the menu to pay homage to the ingredients of the season.

Succulent scallops are wrapped with a paper-thin ribbon of guanciale while charred gem lettuce laced with crunchy pumpkin seeds is a clever mop for a sweet pumpkin puree.

Cold smoked kingfish

Cold smoked kingfish

The smoky sweet aromas of this kingfish smells like a honey-glazed ashtray while savoury notes are restrained. It’s like eating expensive ham except these thick slabs of smoked fish are more delicate and succulent than pork.

Opera Bar, Sydney Opera House

Opera Bar, Sydney Opera House

The arrival of spring is a time to be outdoors and the Sydney Opera House is truly majestic at this time of the year.

Opera Bar's beer battered fish and chips

Opera Bar’s beer battered fish and chips

Apart from being one of the most convenient places for tourists to soak up the views while having a cocktail or two, the Opera Bar takes its menu quite seriously.

We discover the beer battered flathead and chips with its impossibly light and crispy batter to be one of Sydney’s best.

LuMi's lamb rib

LuMi’s lamb rib

Chef Frederico Zanellato‘s LuMi Bar & Dining in Pyrmont is another newcomer that rightfully earned its two-hatted status in Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Inspired by seasonal produce, our second visit saw its menu changed as a clear reflection of the passion and creativity of its chef.

Malaysian style fish ball noodles

Malaysian style fish ball noodles

Inspired by my trip to Kuala Lumpur, I tried replicating one of KL’s best-loved street food and this recipe has since become another one of our favourites at home, especially during cold weather.

Silky smooth rice noodles complement a hearty chicken broth and bouncy fish balls and fish cake slices.

 Malaysian style crispy pork lard

Malaysian style crispy pork lard

Of course, nothing beats the crisp and smoky crunch of deep-fried bits of pork lard that flavour the soup so beautifully.

Rabbits in our backyard

Rabbits in our backyard

On the 25 September 2015, Mysaucepan and I moved into our new home in Sydney’s north shore.

Being one who is fond of city living, it took a bit of adjustment for Mysaucepan but a backyard with the occasional rabbits from the adjoining reserve is winning her heart over.

Compost bin duly installed

Compost bin duly installed

With the amount of cooking we do at home, one of the first things I wanted in our backyard was a compost bin. All fruit and vegetable waste from our kitchen as well as Mysaucepan‘s coffee grounds (I don’t drink coffee, only whisky) and garden debris go straight into a compost bin. I will be blogging about composting and how to recycle green household waste in my coming blog posts.

A project for me this year is major renovations and landscaping works to our home that will see an open gourmet kitchen and dining table that seats twelve diners. Internal living spaces will be seamless with outdoor areas, opening out to an elevated wooden deck that overlooks the backyard and reserve. Two 3.9-kilolitre water tanks will store and recycle rain water for bathroom and garden use.

An outdoor pizza oven will see us cooking up home-made pizzas, Mediterraneans style roast Greek goat and BBQ seafoods.

Our new backyard

Our new backyard

There is a fair bit of gardening chores for me but I have always felt at home when surrounded by nature and have refused to indulge in a motorized lawn mower.

Instead, my new manual mower has been a therapeutic garden companion for the past three months.

Beef tripe salad with coriander and grape tomato

Beef tripe salad with coriander and grape tomato

One of the very first recipes I cooked outdoors  is a simple beef tripe salad with coriander and grape tomato.

Beef tripe salad with coriander and grape tomato

Beef tripe salad with coriander and grape tomato

Thanks to my friend Molly for her inspiration because this is one of my favourite salads on a Sunday afternoon in summer.

Yours truly with Yuja Wang

Yours truly with Yuja Wang

On the music front, a highlight is meeting one of my favourite pianists Yuja Wang when she gave a solo recital at City Recital Hall Angel Place on the evening of 13 July 2015.

Needless to say, it was a sublime performance that included Chopin’s sonatas no. 2 & 3 in B flat minor and B minor respectively and a few Scriabin preludes.

Her interpretation of Balakirev’s Islamey, arguably one of the most demanding pieces in the piano repertoire demonstrated incredible grace and passion with flawless technique.

King fish carpaccio with flying fish roe, strawberry, basil and verjuice dressing

King fish carpaccio with flying fish roe, strawberry, basil and verjuice dressing

Lastly, I leave you with another one of our home interpretations inspired by chef Zika. It has become one of our favourites and this dish sparked off a wonderful 2015 Christmas dinner at home.

Wishing all our readers, family and friends a fun-filled 2016 with lots of deliciousness!

Chopinand  &  Mysaucepan

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4 Responses to Goodbye 2015 ~ A Feast For Our Tummies

  1. Hotly Spiced says:

    It certainly looks like you had a very fulfilling year on a lot of fronts. I must get myself to Cottage Point Inn. I do love the look of your new backyard and the bunnies are gorgeous. Best wishes to you for all the renovations; they do sound wonderful to me and your home, with the outdoor pizza oven will be the centre of many a fabulous dining experience for sure. How fantastic to have a dining table that seats 12! xx

  2. How good is fresh scampi?! Happy New Year to you both. Hope the year ahead is even more delicious!

  3. What a delicious 2015 you had! Congrats on moving into your new home, I love the beautifully manicured lawn :)

  4. Juliana says:

    So nice to see all the wonderful dishes…it was sure a delicious 2015…I hope to continue seeing lots of reviews and recipes…Happy New Year!

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