LuMi chef shares three Italian recipes he cooks at home

Federico Zanellato's eggplant parmigiana.
Federico Zanellato's eggplant parmigiana. Photo: Anna Kucera

Federico Zanellato, head chef of LuMi Bar & Dining and The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide's 2017 Chef of the Year, shares some of his much-loved home recipes.

Eggplant parmigiana

Two kilograms of mozzarella may seem like a daunting amount of cheese for eight people, but fresh cheese holds a lot of moisture that will evaporate when baked. You can cut it back to 1.5kg, if need be, or use one kilogram of shredded mozzarella, which has a drier consistency. 

Ingredients

LuMi head chef Federico Zanellato.
LuMi head chef Federico Zanellato. Photo: Anna Kucera

7 medium-sized eggplants 

100g flour

4 whole eggs, beaten 

100g bread crumbs, plus 50g for topping 

2L sunflower oil for frying

2kg mozzarella, sliced

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150g parmesan

1 bunch basil

tomato sauce 

50ml extra virgin olive oil

one clove of garlic, crushed 

2.5kg whole peeled tomatoes

1 bunch of basil, picked and chopped 

10ml balsamic vinegar, or to taste 

freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste 

Method

1. For the tomato sauce, saute the garlic with the oil, and then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook for one hour. Add the basil, balsamic vinegar and seasoning to taste. 

2. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant into 1cm thick pieces, salt and let rest for 10 minutes. 

3. Working one piece at a time, dredge the eggplant in flour, dip into beaten eggs and then dredge in the breadcrumbs. 

4. Heat the sunflower oil to 180 degrees. Deep fry each slice until gold and crisp, and lay on paper towel to drain. 

5. Spread a large casserole dish or deep baking tray with a layer of tomato sauce. Cover with a layer of the fried eggplant, then a layer of mozzarella, sprinkle with parmesan and a few torn leaves of basil. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and mozzarella – you should have four or five layers. Sprinkle top with extra breadcrumbs. 

6. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until breadcrumbs have browned. 

Serves 8

Spaghetti with bottarga, butter and poorman's orange.

Zesty spaghetti with bottarga. Photo: Anna Kucera

Spaghetti with bottarga, butter and poorman's orange

This beautifully simple pasta uses poorman's orange, a new variety of citrus that is a crossbreed of a pomelo and grapefruit that we get from an organic grower. If you can't find them, substitute with any other citrus – orange, or a mix of mandarin, grapefruit and lemon, maybe.

Ingredients

100g butter

15g bottarga, plus extra to serve

1 poorman's orange, zested

50g white wine

50g water

20g rock salt

400g good quality dry spaghetti

1 bunch of chives, finely chopped

olive oil, if needed

Method

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter, grate in the bottarga and add in poorman's orange zest. Pour in the wine and water, and reduce and emulsify while rotating the pan.

2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add the rock salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions.

3. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pan and toss through.

4. Add most of the chives and a little cooking water, until the sauce reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Add a splash of oil if you like and season.

5. Divide the pasta into four bowls, and garnish with bottarga, poorman's orange zest and fresh chives.

Serves 4

Burnt wheat, yukari and yuzu tart.

LuMi favourite: Burnt wheat, yukari and yuzu tart. Photo: Anna Kucera

Burnt wheat, yukari and yuzu tart

This tart is an old LuMi favourite. The pastry uses a mix of plain flour and grano arso, a burnt semolina made from durum wheat. We buy it ready-made, but in Italy, the flour is usually toasted in a wood-oven once it's been turned off at night. You get a lovely toasted aroma, and it adds an extra layer of flavour and smokiness. Simon Johnson sells it, or you can toast plain flour in a pan until it smells toasty – you won't get the same flavour, but it's the closest thing. 

Yukari powder is made from dehydrated, fermented shiso leaves mixed with umeboshi, a native Japanese plum, that's also dehydrated and powdered. It adds saltiness and a sour flavour, and you should be able to buy ready-made packets from an Asian grocer. Yuzu juice is usually sold frozen, and you can substitute with any other citrus – lime, lemon, mandarin or orange – just make sure to adjust the acidity. 

Ingredients

Yuzu curd

150g cream

5 eggs 

85g yuzu juice 

150 sugar

Sablee pastry

​250g butter

250g icing sugar

100g of egg, plus extra for eggwash 

440g plain flour

100g grano arso

5g salt

50g castor sugar

10g yukari 

Method

1. For the yuzu curd, whisk together the cream, eggs, yuzu juice and sugar. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and store in a sealed container.

2. For the sablee pastry, cream together the butter and icing sugar and then beat in the eggs until well incorporated. 

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, grano arso and salt. Add to the butter mix and combine until crumbly. Bring the pastry together, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

4. Grease a 30-centimetre tart tin and preheat oven to 160C. Roll the chilled pastry out to 3mm thick and line the tin, trim and discard excess. Any leftover pastry can be frozen for later use. Put down a layer of baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice.

5. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans or rice, and bake for further 12 minutes. Brush with egg wash and bake for a further two minutes. 

6. Reduce oven to 120C. Fill the pastry shell with the yuzu curd and cook until the curd reaches 70C, using a thermometer to measure the temperature. In a normal domestic oven, this should take around 40 minutes but start to check after 25 minutes. Do not bake longer than 45 minutes or the curd will scramble. 

7. Allow tart to cool for at least an hour. Just before serving, sprinkle tart with castor sugar and glaze to a brulee finish with a blow torch. Dust with yukari and serve. 

Serves 8-10