Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A moment of silence...

One of the most shocking discoveries in the weekend that just passed was that one of my all time favourite casual chinese eateries in Perth has, or at least appears to have, shut down very suddenly.

Hong Kong BBQ or 顺德 as it is affectionately known by the local chinese has been around forever. And by forever I mean ever since I first arrived in Perth as a student almost 15 years ago now.

For as long as I can remember, this unpretentious, extremely efficient and welcoming chinese restaurant has been a dining home to my friends and I. We found comfort in their delicious beef brisket braised to melting perfection in earthen claypots, marvelled at their large portions of crispy roast pork, were thrilled by the ridiculously moreish wok fried snow crab in a salted egg yolk batter and most importantly, became hopelessly addicted to their house made chilli oil (a potent blend of fried dried chillis, garlic and other secret condiments).

We had our Sunday lunches, late weeknight gatherings, after movie supper catch ups, birthday celebrations even in this very popular establishment... this place was as much about the food as it was the memories that it injected into our lives. The lovely owners that ran the restaurant were always extremely warm and friendly - and having visited this place countless times in the past 15 years, I had become a familiar face that they always acknowledged with a welcoming smile. My only regret is that I had never bothered to get to know them on a first name basis.

And as I take a moment of silence to reflect on the (potential I hope) possibility of losing 顺德 - I realise that just like the people closest to you in life, you should never take their presence for granted... I mean I had never even thought of including this old favourite on this blog until now.

My only hope is that the owners had decided to take time out to renovate the restaurant's premises... and in the process allowed me to appreciate this restaurant for what it really has been - a big part of my dining life here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Miso marinated roasted salmon

I love this recipe. Deceptively simple, delightfully tasty and definitely one of the best and easiest ways of cooking a beautiful fillet of salmon.

Simply marinate your salmon fillets (pin bones removed) overnight in a marinade of shiro (white) miso, orange zest, grated ginger, grated garlic, soya sauce and equal parts of mirin and sake (brought to a boil to burn off the alcohol content and left to cool).

The next day, remove excess marinade (this can be strained and reduced on the stove for a delicious sauce, and roast the salmon under a hot grill in the middle section of the oven for 4 minutes. Bring the roasting tray to the top section in the final 2 minutes of cooking to get some caramelisation and colour to the fish.

I like to serve this simply on a bed of wakame (japanese seaweed) dressed in rice vinegar, mirin and soya sauce, with miso soup and steamed rice. The orange zest and ginger are a perfect match with the rich earthy miso and the fattiness of the salmon - so simple but oh so good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Daylesford Dreaming

On a recent visit to Melbourne, M and I decided to spend a couple of days in the day spa country town of Daylesford which is around an hour and a half outside of the city. This picturesque town was very cool - great spots to eat, drink, stay, bath (in one of the many mineral springs bath houses) and unwind (with luxurious massage treatments). Here are just some of the many great little spots in this very unforgettable holiday destination.


http://www.saltus.com.au/ - These beautiful self contained villas are perched gently on a hill overlooking the Hepburn Springs woods. Fantastic fit outs, a stone bath, panoramic views from the living and bedrooms and a very functional kitchen - this is a great spot for a relaxing getaway.

http://www.sweetdecadence.com.au/ - This well known chocolate cafe on the main strip in Daylesford serves great coffee, hand made chocolates and a to die for chocolate pudding.

http://www.breakfastandbeer.com.au/home.php - a fine collection of Australian and European beers, this eclectic establishment also serves simple but well cooked light meals. The owner is more than happy to impart his extensive knowledge on the humble brew and will expertly pair your meals with a well matched pour.

http://www.theredstar.com.au/ - This tiny cafe doesn't look like much from the outside but is a warm and welcoming breakfast establishment that does a fantastic breakfast fry up. The fare here is unpretentious but very well cooked - the black pudding in particular was stunning and well worth the visit for.

http://www.fernleighfarms.com/ - this organic farm that specialises in the rare wessex saddleback pigs is fantastic. The owner, Fiona, has a real passion for humane treatment of her livestock and is truly sincere about producing the best sustainable produce. On the drive in I even noticed her happy pigs munching on organic carrots, apples, parsnips and other delicious vegetables. I purchased some streaky bacon and a pork neck which I used to whip up for dinner that night. A roast pork rubbed in thyme and garlic and wrapped with crispy bacon and served with a apple and roasted vegetable gravy was truly brilliant and testament to how great ingredients make great food.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Heart Dumplings

Morsels of goodness - I love dim sum but am always found frustrated, almost violently so, about the lack of decent place in Perth to enjoy some well made dumplings (though I have found a pretty decent place recently which I will blog about down the track)...

In Melbourne however, the availability of good yum cha isn't lost in this food capital of the nation. Whilst some of these might be found in Chinatown... some really fantastic, made to order dim sum can be found in the suburbs.

Purple Sands is a relatively small chinese restaurant located in the leafy suburb of Camberwell (where that ridiculously talented actor Geoffrey Rush lives). Almost too unassuming from the outside as it sits next to an even more unassuming laundromat - the quality of the food and especially the dumplings here is pretty darn surprising.

Everything is made to order here - which is a huge difference to the mass produced gluggy stuff that have become so common around places that continue to draw the crowds (for some reason that continues to baffle me). Call me a dumpling snob - but the quiet, out of the way nature of this very tasty yum cha joint makes this a hidden gem.

Purple Sands
180 Camberwell Road
Hawthorn East

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