Creamed corn? You betcha. Battered bar snacks? Well, obviously. Cured egg on pasta? Rockin! These three cult Melbourne dishes each has its own diehard fans. Now you can go pro at home.
Embla's creamed corn, creme fraiche, oregano and dried citrus
Wattie's cream-style corn, a New Zealand pantry staple, was the inspiration behind this side dish, which appears on the menu at Melbourne wine bar Embla when corn is in season. "I grew up eating that stuff," says Dunedin-born chef Dave Verheul. "I wanted to make a version but do a little bit better." Verheul's rendition uses dried citrus and burnt onions to balance the sweetness of fresh corn. Start the dried citrus and burnt onions the day before serving.
1/2 white grapefruit
1 brown onion
10g vegetable oil
8 corn cobs
10g vegetable oil
1/2 brown onion, diced
50g creme fraiche
10g oregano leaves
1. To make the dried citrus, remove the peel and pith from the citrus with a sharp knife, setting the peel aside for another use or discarding. Slice the flesh into thin rounds, remove the seeds and dry overnight in a low oven or a dehydrator until crisp. Chop finely and set aside.
2. To make the burnt onion, peel the onion and slice into fine rings. Separate the rings and toss them in vegetable oil and salt. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 200C until blackened and dry. Let the onion cool then roughly chop and set aside.
3. To make the creamed corn, peel the corn cobs, making sure to remove all of the corn silk. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off four of the cobs and roughly chop the kernels, trying to keep the mixture chunky. Cut the kernels from the remaining four cobs and blend them in a bowl blender until broken down.
4. Heat the oil in a medium pan and gently fry the diced onion for a few minutes until softened but not coloured. Add both the chunky and blended corn kernels and the cream, and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the larger kernels have softened. Stir in the butter, season to taste and keep warm.
5. To serve, place the creamed corn into a serving bowl, put a spoonful of creme fraiche in the centre, and sprinkle the dried citrus, burnt onion and oregano around the outside.
Bar Liberty's battered vegies are a great drinking snack. Photo: Josh Robenstone
Bar Liberty's salt and pepper vegetables
Chef Casey Wall serves these can't-stop-at-one salty and crunchy snacks alongside drinks at Bar Liberty in Fitzroy, one of the hot, new places in The Age Good Food Guide 2017. Choose whichever vegetables you want to cook. "Firm vegetables like sweet potato and pumpkin should be sliced thinly to cook through," Wall says. "Softer vegetables like zucchini and green tomatoes can be cut a bit thicker. We've used almost everything in this dish for the restaurant and they all come up well." The seasoning mix makes more than you need but keeps well in an airtight container.
Salt and pepper seasoning
2 tsp whole white peppercorn
2 tbsp fine salt
2 tsp castor sugar
100g rice flour
100g glutinous rice flour
100g tapioca flour
325g soda water
about 600g vegetables to serve
vegetable oil for deep frying
spring onion tops, finely sliced
1. To make the salt and pepper seasoning, toast the peppercorns in a dry heavy-based frying pan until aromatic, then add all the ingredients into a spice grinder and process until you have a fine powder.
2. To make the batter, mix all the ingredients in a medium size bowl until the batter just comes together, being careful not to overwork the mixture otherwise you'll whisk out a lot of the carbonation from the soda water and your batter won't be as light.
3. Preheat the oil to 180C.
4. Prepare all the vegetables before you start cooking. Dip them in the batter using a pair of tweezers or chopsticks, then remove each piece and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl. If the batter doesn't stick to one spot of the vegetable, submerge again.
5. Place the vegetables in the oil. Be careful not to overcrowd as the vegetables will stick together. They will be done once there is a small amount of colour around the edges of the batter. Remove from the fryer and drain on a paper towel-lined tray.
6. Sprinkle on some of the salt and pepper seasoning, top with some sliced spring onions and serve.
Casarecce pasta at Marion wine bar. Photo: Jesse Marlow
Marion's casarecce pasta, chicory, egg yolk and chilli
This vegetarian pasta dish has been one of Andrew McConnell's favourites since his Fitzroy wine bar Marion opened. Start the cured egg yolks the day before you intend to serve the dish. Cured and grated egg yolks have the texture of parmesan but the rich, sweet flavour of yolk, overlaid with salt from the curing process. You can use them to enrich salads, rice dishes and grilled vegetables.
6 zucchini flowers with zucchini attached
300g parmesan cheese, finely grated
freshly ground black pepper
Cured egg yolks
4 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups table salt
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large red chilli, sliced
2 bunches chicory, chopped into 2cm lengths
100ml olive oil
1 long red chilli
100ml olive oil
1. For the chicory braise, heat the oil in a large based pan. Add onion, garlic and chilli and sweat over a low heat until completely soft. Be careful not to let it colour.Add chopped chicory and water and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and cook for a further hour until chicory has broken down. Season to taste and set aside.
2. For the cured egg yolks, mix the sugar and table salt together. Evenly spread half the sugar and salt mix into a baking tray. Using the back of a tablespoon, create four craters spaced out evenly. Place a yolk into each crater and cover with the rest of the salt and sugar mix. Wrap the tray tightly in cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours. After 12 hours, carefully take the yolks out of the curing mix. Gently brush with a pastry brush and rinse under cold water to remove any excess mix. Pat dry with paper towel. Place the egg yolks in a dehydrator at 55C for 12 hours. Alternatively preheat the oven to 80C, place yolks on a fine wire rack and dehydrate in the oven for one to two hours. The yolks should become opaque and firm up so they can be grated.
3. To make the chilli oil, finely slice the chilli and cover in oil. Set aside.
4. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 12 minutes or until al dente, then drain, reserving 100 millilitres of cooking water.
5. To serve, emulsify chicory braise in the pan with reserved cooking water and butter. Slice the zucchini thinly and tear flowers into four and set aside. Add the sliced zucchini to the pan along with the pasta and six tablespoons of grated parmesan. Toss through to emulsify, until the cheese melts through the sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with chilli oil. Scatter over the zucchini flowers and parmesan and grate the cured egg yolk on top.
The Age Good Food Guide 2017 is on sale in newsagents and bookstores for $14.99 with The Age (usually $24.99), while stocks last. All book purchases receive free access to the new Good Food app.