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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stomachs Eleven Christmas Dinner 2016

Sydney rock oysters, foie gras croquembouche and Malaysian prawn cracker at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016

Let's face it. The best part about Christmas is the food. And eating it with your loved ones. Sure we all have dysfunctional families and friends that drive you crazy sometimes but who wants to squabble when there's a groaning table of plenty to be eaten? If there's one thing that Asians do well, it's hiding emotions with food.

Our annual Christmas dinner with Stomachs Eleven is always one I look forward to, and not just because Pig Flyin is such an incredible home cook. I love that our circle of friendship took root from a Flickr photography group that broadened to include siblings and school mates. Now there are kids and babies and suddenly we're celebrating our 8th Christmas dinner together.

Steak tartare with dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin and Malaysian prawn crackers at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Steak tartare with dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin and Malaysian prawn crackers

We start with snacks outside on the new verandah. Homemade steak tartare using dry aged Belted Galloway sirloin from Feather & Bone is tender, piquant and ridiculously addictive. We spoon them on giant prawn crackers I'd brought back from Malaysia and fried in Pig Flyin's kitchen. The prawn crackers are super thick and sturdy, making them an ideal carriage for the tartare.

Two kinds of Malaysia prawn crackers at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Two kinds of Malaysia prawn crackers

The other prawn crackers I'd brought back are much thinner in texture but stronger in prawn flavour. Neither of them are as foamy or airy as the regular prawn crackers you get in the Asian grocery store. These have a much better density and crunch.

Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney

We dip both kinds of prawn crackers in the Thai-inspired pineapple and shrimp paste chutney. "I just made it up," says Pig Flyin when we ask him which recipe he used. It's tangy and salty and sweet.

Freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters

And it's not an Aussie Christmas without seafood. Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters are one of the most divine things you can eat. Just a simple squeeze of fresh lime is all you need to amplify that deliciously bracing brininess that brings echoes of the sea.

Profiterole filled with whipped foie gras and coated in bitter toffee at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Profiterole filled with whipped foie gras and coated in bitter toffee

But the piece de resistance is the croquembouche! I'd presumed this was for dessert but its filling of foie gras makes it a stellar sweet and savoury snack. The choux pastry puffs are piped with whipped bloc de foie gras de canard or duck liver and then dipped with bitter caramel. The puffs are assembled into a tower and strewn with bitter toffee strands.

A video posted by Helen (@grabyourfork) on

Watching this slow motion video of toffee strands being made is so calming and therapeutic!

Balmain bug katsu dogs with homemade tartare sauce at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Balmain bug katsu dogs with homemade tartare sauce

Our second round of snacks includes these Balmain bug katsu dogs that Pig Flyin affectionately calls "bug dogs".

Balmain bug in panko crumb at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Balmain bug in panko crumb

This is the most luxe variation on a hot dog you can imagine! A soft bun holds the crunchy panko-crumbed Balmain bug, its tender flesh contrasted against velvety butter lettuce leaves and a creamy homemade tartare sauce.

Toads in the hole at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Toads in the hole

We also score a little nod to England with these toads in the hole. Baby Kransky sausages languish in airy beds of fluffy and crisp Yorkshire pudding.

Drizzling olive oil over marinated kingfish head and collar at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Drizzling olive oil over marinated kingfish head and collar

We're all big fans of fish heads and collars. Pig Flyin picked up a kingfish head and collar from the fish markets. These were marinated and then cooked in his Kamado barbecue.

Kingfish head and collar on the barbecue at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Kingfish head and collar on the barbecue

Barbecued kingfish head and collar at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Barbecued kingfish head and collar

The smoky char on the kingfish head and collar is too enticing to resist. We plunder a bounty of flesh from each, wrapping mouthfuls in lettuce leaves to eat.

Five types of cherry tomato salad with basil and mint at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Five types of cherry tomato salad with basil and mint

A huge bowl of tomato salad holds five varieties of cherry tomatoes. They vary in sweetness, juiciness and acidity. It's such a festive salad, especially with the Christmassy green basil and mint leaves.

Red emperor fish wrapped in salt dough at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Red emperor fish wrapped in salt dough

But the main event is yet to come. A huge red emperor fish is wrapped in salt dough and baked in the oven while we eat.

Cutting open the salt dough after baking at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Cutting open the salt dough after baking

By the time we've started attacking the kingfish, the salt dough crust on the red emperor has turned a golden shade of brown .

Baked red emperor wrapped in fig leaves and salt dough at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Baked red emperor wrapped in fig leaves and salt dough

The salt dough is cut open to reveal the red emperor snuggled up beneath a blanket of fig leaves.

Red emperor baked in salt dough with green leaf salad dressed with apple cider vinaigrette at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Red emperor baked in salt dough with green leaf salad dressed with apple cider vinaigrette

You can really smell the aroma of fig leaves when the fish is brought to the table. The flesh is firm and nuanced with a smoky fruitiness from the fig leaves. Others detect a strong smell of coconut too.

Grilled nectarine and plum with fresh pineapple and mint salad at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Grilled nectarine and plum with fresh pineapple and mint salad

Our final dish is one of my favourites, a grilled nectarine and plum salad accented with fresh pineapple and mint. It's such a summery dish, and the gentle acidity of fruits works so well with both fish.

Homemade fig leaf ice cream with fresh figs at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Homemade fig leaf ice cream with fresh figs

The fig leaf theme continues with dessert. We can barely fit another mouthful in but manage to find room for a scoop of homemade fig leaf ice cream served alongside fresh figs.

Candied rhubarb at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Candied rhubarb

Over cups of tea we chew on candied rhubarb, its signature tang mellowed with sugar.

Duck fat caramels at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016
Duck fat caramels

And then there are homemade duck fat caramels, dusted with crunchy flakes of sea salt.

Sydney rock oysters, foie gras croquembouche, Malaysian prawn cracker and steak tartare at our Stomachs 11 Christmas dinner 2016

Wherever you are, and whoever you're with, I hope you have a terrific holiday of feasting over the coming week!


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2015 |  2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/24/2016 03:18:00 pm


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