Fire + food. It's guaranteed to draw a crowd. We flock into Pig Flyin's kitchen when we hear our lunch is on fire. This isn't an ordinary blowtorch. Pig Flyin' is using his latest toy, a Searzall. It looks more like a souped up flame thrower. Truly impressive.
Our Stomachs Eleven eating club had gathered at Pig Flyin's for a post-Christmas catch-up. It was the week between Christmas and New Year's when all of us were on holiday and relishing a break from work.
Crumbed pigs head terrine
We start with crumbed pigs head terrine, precise rectangular blocks deep fried to a golden hue. Inside its panko crumb shell is a pigs head terrine, made from a boned out pigs head cooked with thyme, orange rind and garlic. The terrine had been brushed with Pig Flyin's homemade mustard then crumbed and deep fried.
Inside the crumbed pigs head terrine
Each cube is different, with surprises of pork skin, pigs ear or pig cheek inside. It feels like Christmas morning again as we open our presents. The dab of homemade cranberry apple chutney is the ideal sweet and vinegary foil against the deep fried crunch.
Homemade air baguettes wrapped with mortadella
I'd seen Pig Flyin's photos of his homemade air baguettes with pancetta for his family Christmas dinner and was so excited when I realised we'd get to try these ourselves, this time wrapped with mortadella. The air baguettes were incredible, hollow bread sticks that splintered into a spray of crumbs with every bite.
I'd also drooled over his Christmas feast photos of his terrina de pulpo, an octopus terrine set in its own jelly. He still had some of this left, and sliced up the rest of it for our lunch.
Octopus terrine with olive oil potatoes
The octopus is wondrously tender, cooked at 80C for 7 hours on his induction stove. Piled in the middle is a mash of potatoes with olive oil.
Using the Searzall on a 1.6kg T-bone steak
We can't help but race into the kitchen when we hear the click of a blowtorch being fired. Pig Flyin' had invested in one of the original Searzall blowtorches funded through Kickstarter. They're now available on Amazon for US$75 (US shipping addresses only).
Reverse searing - charring the steak after slow roasting at 98C until an internal temp of 50C
The Searzall has been designed as a professional finishing tool. It's not meant to cook steaks, but it will sear them to your head-steered specification. Unlike the single flame of a blowtorch, the Searzall has a diffused flame that creates more of a radiant heat. The flame passes through two layers of alloy mesh, eliminating the "torch taste" often associated with blow torches. The team behind the Searzall - Booker and Dax - undertook research that proved that torch taste was not due to the presence of propane or butane gases, but the result of new chemical compounds created when extreme heat is applied to foods.
The finished T-bone steak charred with a Searzall
Carving the steak off the bone
Our 1.6kg T-bone behemoth has been cooked at 98C until the internal temperature reached 50C. Finishing it with the Searzall is a process known as "reverse searing". This is the opposite of the usual process, where steaks are seared then finished off in the oven.
Slicing the steak
Pink and juicy medium rare T-bone steak
I could swear there was a chorus of angels when those juicy fat slices of T-bone revealed themselves.
Grain-fed, dry-aged T-bone steak slow-roasted and then charred with a Searzall
Iceberg lettuce with leaves and horseradish salad cream - inspired by a dish served by O Tama Carey (recently ex-Berta)
Our salad is a dish that Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' had at Berta by recently departed head chef O Tama Carey. Wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce are scattered over with shaved radish, cress, parsley, nasturtiums and chives. Dolloped across the top is a rich salad cream with fresh grated horseradish.
On the side: Yorkshire puddings. It's been years since I've had the pleasure of a Yorkie. There's a fine art to getting these to puff and rise. Pig Flyin' says his latest trick is to allow the batter to hydrate for as long as possible. This allows time for the gluten to develop and give it puff.
Add that all up and you've got my idea of a perfect Sunday roast.
Homemade passionfruit curd tarts
For dessert, Pig Flyin' has passionfruit curd tarts. The curd is homemade, piped into shells made with leftovers duck fat pastry from his Christmas pâté en croûte. This pastry is deliriously good - thick and buttery.
Apple frangipane tart made by J
J has brought along a homemade apple frangipane tart. The puff pastry is pre-made Carême, but the apples and frangipane have been lovingly prepared.
We can't help but bring out the Searzall for a little more caramelisation action across the top.
Browning the apple frangipane tart with the Searzall
There's an art to controlling the heat of the Searzall flame across a delicate surface like pastry, but I'm all for deep caramelisation in any shape or form.
Caramelised apple frangipane tart
The Careme pastry has puffed up beautifully into buttery and flaky layers. It's a terrific dessert, the delicate petals of tender apple sweetened with caramelised sugar on a bed of almond frangipane.
Cronuts and cruffins from Brewtown
X has brought along a bounty of cronuts and cruffins from Brewtown.
Kuih bahulu made by me
And I made kuih bahulu, finally christening the mould I bought in Malaysia four years ago.
We ended up chilling after lunch, including a stint of Lego building to make up for the Lego-less chasm from our childhood. "Stay for dinner!" said Pig Flyin'. I expected omelettes or some other simple fridge surprise. I should have known better.
Poached alfonsino in fresh dashi and soy
Being prepared with menu planning is a sign of an organised chef, but cooking on the fly with no notice is akin to a quickfire challenge on Top Chef.
Meat and seafood is defrosted from the freezer. A pot of fresh dashi stock starts simmering on the stove. We end up with a Chinese-style family meal that includes alfonsino poached in fresh dashi and soy. The alfonsino is sweet and succulent, flaking apart at just the nudge of a fork.
Wild tiger prawns with supreme soy sauce
Wild tiger prawns are cooked Hong Kong-style, pan-fried until the shells are crisp and the meat in the prawn heads starts to ooze out. Premium soy sauce and shaoxing wine are added to form a rich and sticky prawn brain sauce. Pig Flyin' says this is more elegantly known as "supreme soy sauce".
The wild tiger prawns were picked up from Sydney Fish Market and have a markedly sweeter taste.
Aburi salmon belly with mayonnaise
Offcuts of salmon belly from Pig Flyin's homemade gravlax is defrosted, sliced and blowtorched into aburi salmon belly. This is a trick I am definitely going to have to remember, particularly as you can often pick up salmon belly offcuts from the fish market. The salmon belly is unctuously rich and fatty, laced with a spiderweb of homemade mayonnaise.
Beef katsu with red cabbage using flat iron steak
Flat iron steaks have been trimmed by Pig Flyin' himself from cuts of oyster blades. Pig Flyin' says their flat and even thickness make them perfect for making katsu. The meat is tender and flavourful, coated in a panko crumb shell and best eaten with crisp shavings of raw red cabbage.
Steamed eggplant with soy and shallots
I'm a huge eggplant fan but never think to steam them. These are an heirloom Italian variety that Pig Flyin' picked up from Frank's Fruit Shop in Haberfield. They have a satiny soft texture to them, their sweetness accented by the thin soy sauce dressing.
Asahari gohan clam and dashi rice
When I pop open the rice cooker, I'm immediately enveloped in an incredible smell of seafood. Pig Flyin' has added dried baby clams - brought back from Kinasawa, Japan - to the rice which has been cooked with fresh dashi stock.
Dried baby clams from Kinasawa, Japan, in the dashi rice
The rice is a meal in itself, the plump and chewy grains accented by pops of clam with an umami undercurrent of dashi stock. I need to find those clams and make this myself.
I don't have recipes for Pig Flyin's dishes, but I do have one for the kuih bahlulu I brought along.
Kuih Bahulu recipe
based on a recipe by Nasi Lemak Lover
Kuih bahulu are mini Malaysian sponge cakes that some people call "Asian madeleines". They should have crispy edges but be soft in the middle.
I bought my cast iron kuih bahulu mould in Malaysia, but you may be able to source one online. If you can't find one, others have used mini bundt pans or converted these into biscuits.
These are easy to make and are great dessert to bring along to picnics as they transport well. They're light, won't melt and their sturdiness makes them easy to carry. You can also make them the night before for hassle-free catering.
3 eggs (cold from the fridge)
120g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can substitute pandan essence if you prefer)
70g (1 cup self-raising flour)
30g (1/4 cup less half a tablespoon) plain flour
5g (half a tablespoon) cornflour
Vegetable oil or coconut oil for greasing the pan
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- When the oven is hot, lightly oil the bahulu mould using a pastry brush and heat in the oven for at least five minutes.
- Beat the eggs and caster sugar using an electric mixer for about fifteen minutes. By this time, the mixture should be a pale golden colour, thick and foamy.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flours and mix thoroughly.
- Gently fold the flour into the egg mixture in three batches.
- Remove the hot bahulu mould and carefully ladle in the batter. Fill them about 3/4 of the way, as the batter tends to expand quickly. Use two spoons so you can neatly fill the moulds.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown in colour. To check if they are cooked, insert a skewer into the middle of one of the cakes and make sure it comes out clean. If not, return to the oven.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove the bahulu mould from the oven and transfer the cakes to a cooling rack.
- Carefully wipe out any cake fragments and then regrease and heat again for five minutes.
- Repeat steps 7 to 10 until all the batter has been used.
- Store the cool kuih bahulu in an airtight container and consume with two days.
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1/15/2015 02:15:00 am