With Mr Karahashi Hiroyuki at the home of the Consul-General of Japan.
Welcome, Top o’ the mornin’ to you (or whatever time of day) and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. Not sure it’s the luck of the Irish but the Bureau of Meteorology has advised that La Niña,which brought three years of rain and floods is finally over, though there are some signs that El Niño could form later in the year. For now I am happy if we can say goodbye to torrential rain.
This was not going to be the title of this week’s newsletter – but please read on to see why Keep Moving Forward appealed. I hope you like it too.
I’m happy to be back in the thick of it and in my routine with regular walks, catching up with family, friends and colleagues, pilates classes and working out at my lovely gym, not to mention the obligatory coffee afterwards! I attended a sake tasting this week (hence the photo) and I share more information below.
I’ve eaten some wonderful food too – Yum Cha at XOPP, part of theGolden Century Group, with a foodie friend from Queensland who, fortunately, shares my love for chicken feet. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo but I liked the sentiment of my fortune cookie which said ‘Keep moving forward’ – a good motto I think, especially for me right now. I also made my second visit to Amah by Hojiak in Chatswood. Amah means ‘grandmother’ in Teochew and Hokkien. Head Chef Hun Loong, is former Head Chef of Mr. Wong, and the Executive Chef is Ho Jiak, While inspired by home-style Malaysian cooking as an ode to Loong’s late grandmother, it is really light, elegant and sophisticated, yet still very well-priced. According to Loong, if Amah taught him anything it was the meaning of cooking is to satisfy the person eating. Another good adage – either would have been a good title for this week’s newsletter.
Interestingly, the sentiment behind Porkfatalso is inspired by family. “We want you to feel as though you have stepped off the chaotically delicious streets of Bangkok into our Grandmother’s kitchen.” Certainly pork fat is used liberally, but so are abundant, fresh greens and dishes are clean and fragrant. Both these restaurants have an authenticity about them, with smiling, helpful staff and I recommend them highly.
I had a second opportunity to cook a leg of Australian White lamb – also available under the brand name Margra. They are bred to produce meat rather than wool and to handle Australian conditions.As a cook, I love It’s combination of micro marbling, low-fat melting point, fine texture and mild aroma. This means the end result is clean-tasting and even leftovers cold in a salad the next day were in no way cloying. I’ll let you know when I put his recipe up on my website but meanwhile this is a reel I put on instagram showing how I prepped it.
I love the change of seasons anywhere in the world. Here in Sydney it’s hot and humid, but the Autumn produce is firmly in the shops which gets me thinking differently about cooking. I’ve been buying whole corn cobs to cook, so fresh and juicy, figs every morning for breakfast on my sheep milk’s yoghurt (it has double the calcium of cow’s milk), enjoying fresh nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachio, pecans, macadamias and chestnuts,thinking all things eggplant and longing for wild mushrooms. Certainly, plums are the best of the stonefruit now.
The beginning of the season is best for things which need a long ripening time over the warmer months, so tomatoes are magnificent, while watermelons and rockmelons are sweet and juicy. Apples and pears are really coming into their own, so avoid any which have been in cold storage. Keep your eyes out for quinces and I also saw fresh tomatilloes this week. Pomegranates will be here soon along with all manner of citrus fruit too.
I was delighted to find celeriac last week and made a silky, smooth mash to go with roast lamb. Other vegetables which don’t like the heat like horseradish, fennel and brussels sprouts are on their way. Once the chill sets in, radicchio and the kales, such as cavolo nero will be bountiful, so keep an eye out for those.
“Crafting sake gives relaxation, joy, and excitement” and that was certainly the case last Tuesday evening, when I attended an informative Japanese Sake Seminar and tasting, hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan. Mr Karahashi Hiroyuki, President & CEO of Homare Sake Brewery Ltd (founded by his grandfather in 1918) gave a clear and informative lecture on sake making, accompanied by a tasting of four premium sakes. Put simply Sake is a fermented alcoholic beverage, made from water and rice, with important action from yeast and koji spores (a cultured mould on steamed rice). Koji spores are dusted onto some of the rice to convert rice starches into sugar, which is consumed by yeast to create alcohol.
With some excellent iillustrations, he explained how sake is made, brewing techniques, how much the rice might be polished prior to making and the difference in flavours by type – which is similar to wine but with very different flavour profiles. Homare Sake Brewery Co. was greatly affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake but has recovered remarkably, exporting sake to 20 countries including Australia.? Little wonder as they are highly awarded by well regarded international competitions.
We then were able to smell different good and bad aromas in sake (so educational a bit like being able to experience corked wine), which is best drunk fresh and taste three more including a refreshing Yuzu-infused liqueur and some Japanese food prepared by the Consul-General’s chef.
I have visited a sake brewery in Japan and been to many sake tastings, but this was so clearly explained and the sakes were gentle, integrated and smooth – some were drier, some a little sweet, and all generally savoury. In general, the greater the polishing of the rice (up to 60%), the higher the quality. The name Junmai indicates that no brewer’s alcohol is used, alcohol varied from 8-16% and Mr Karahashi made an interesting comparison with white wine. Evidently, sake and food matching is a fairly recent trend and, along with diagrams which showed where the different sakes were on the rich & dry, rich & sweet, light & dry and light & sweet spectrum and made some suggestions. Certainly, the sake was wonderful with sashimi.?
Food after the sake tasting – including Baby peaches from Fukushima (home of Homare sake) in Sauvignon Blanc jelly in the foreground
St Patrick’s Day
My Luxe Irish Stew of Goat
Happy St Patrick’s Day. I have such fond memories of this day. My friends Jennice & Ray Kersh opened their fabled Edna’s Table restaurant on this day in 1981. Named after their mother, of Irish/Catholic descent it was always celebrated with food, wine, singing and festivities. I have had several texts today in memory of these fun times.
Ray, the chef made the most brilliant Irish Stew. I based my recipe for aLuxe Irish Stew of Goaton his when I cooked it on The Burren in Ireland when I was filming my Taste of Ireland TV series. Irish stew is traditionally made of lamb, potatoes and onions and with long, slow cooking the potatoes start to disintegrate and thicken the broth. However, I learned when I was in The Burren, that there is a long tradition of goats in Ireland, beginning as long ago as the great Irish potato famine in 17th century. Therefore when I was in the area I decided to make a deluxe version of Irish stew using goat. You could, of course, substitute lamb.