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With Good Food Month about to hit overdrive with the Night Noodle Markets, and Regional Flavours landing on the Southbank Forecourt this weekend just gone, we thought it was time to investigate some of what drives flavours and experiences in Bistro Allure with our Executive Chef Gary Howieson.
Now if you’ve stayed in the hotel recently, you might have seen him on the in room TVs on ChefTV sharing his favourite three dishes; the Peanut Butter Cheesecake tart, the Togarashi Salted Squid and the Seared Duck. If you haven’t seen these short videos, check them out on our Facebook page to see what goes into making the dishes taste as fantastic as they look.
During NAIDOC week at the beginning of the month, Bistro Allure had some specials that they put together that were particularly Australian inspired dishes, and we thought they might deserve a little more investigation. The three dishes were:
- Lemon myrtle cured salmon, citrus wattle seed crème fraiche, pickled cucumber, trout roe
- Mountain pepper crusted kangaroo loin, rosella chutney, galette potato, jus
- Lemon aspen panna cotta, bush plum compote, candied nuts, micro lemon balm
We’re going to take a closer look at the first two of these to see the thought that goes behind them.
Deconstructing the first dish entails working out how to balance the flavours well and this is perhaps the most delicate part of the process. Curing this Tasmania Huon Valley salmon generally takes between 18-24 hours, with just the right amount of sugar and salt having to be used, depending on what result you are after. The more sugar involved, the sweeter and softer the texture the salmon becomes and vice versa. Bringing forward a distinctly Australian flavour, and being careful to be mindful of just how strong this ingredient is, is the citrus wattle seed. This has a texture like ground coffee and can be overpowering in a dish, so the saltiness of the pickled cucumber and trout roe rounds out the dish here. All these elements coming together certainly does sound like a balancing act, and something that Chef has spent years working with in his almost 20 years in the industry. Experience counts for a lot in the kitchen, but Gary will be the first one to say ‘Experiment, experiment, experiment. It’s all for a good cause, food!’
If you’re wondering what mountain pepper is, well, let us enlighten you. It is found in the south-eastern parts of Australia and is a small shrub of which the dried leaves and berries are used as a bushfood substitute for pepper. It’s actually also called Tasmannia lanceolata. So with this strong peppery taste, it’s perfect to season the kangaroo meat which of course has a rich gamey flavour. Adding to this partnership, is the rosella jam, which is used to add sweetness to the dish. The rosella component – at $90 a kilo – is cooked and reduced down for about four hours using sugar syrup, spices, and diced apple to get that sweet chutney and produce again a well-balanced dish that can really be said to be authentically Australian inspired.
So as Chef says, experiment, taste, and always think about the end result and how that’s going to taste as a whole. There are going to be mistakes, but each one gets you closer to a new taste and flavour.
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