Life Eat & Drink Mr Hong: Eat like a MasterChef with these outrageously delicious recipes
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Mr Hong: Eat like a MasterChef with these outrageously delicious recipes

Sang choi bao of sichuan lamb with smoked eggplant nahm prik. Photo: Jason Loucas
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In Mr Hong, celebrated Sydney-based chef Dan Hong teams up with MasterChef judge Melissa Leong to serve up big, bold flavours that celebrate Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican cuisine and more.

Here are three outrageously delicious recipes to try: 

Mini pork banh mi

SERVES 8

I love banh mi – it’s food from my heritage and I wanted to put it on the menu. We decided to make Ms G’s banh mi smaller so that diners could fit in other dishes as well. In my eyes, banh mi is up there with the most iconic sandwiches of the world. It’s the perfect balance of richness, acidity, texture, freshness and spice. In short, everything you could ever want in a sandwich.

The pork

6 litres (210 fl oz/24 cups) Chinese masterstock
1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) pork belly, rib bones removed, skin on.

Mini pork banh mi. Photo: Jason Loucas

Pour the masterstock into a stockpot and carefully add the pork belly. Bring to the boil. As soon as it’s reached boiling point, turn the heat down and simmer for 3–4 hours or until the pork belly is tender.

Line a roasting tin (large enough to fit the pork belly) with baking paper. Carefully lift the pork belly from the stock, being mindful to keep everything in one piece (not easy to do, since the pork is very soft at this point).

Put the pork in the tin, skin side down. Cover with another piece of baking paper then a baking tray. Weight the tray with heavy objects such as tins of tomatoes then leave it overnight (unrefrigerated)
to press the pork belly.

The rest

1 loaf of chà lua (Vietnamese pork loaf)
Vegetable oil, for frying
8 small, soft white rolls
Pork liver pâté
6 salted cucumbers
Pickled daikon and carrot
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves only
Sriracha mayonnaise

Using a meat slicer or a very sharp knife, slice the chà lua as thinly as possible. Set aside. Cut the pork belly into pieces about 1.5 cm (58 inch) thick and about the same length as the rolls.

Fill a large heavy-based saucepan one-third full with oil and heat to 170°C (325°F) or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 20 seconds. Carefully drop in the pork belly pieces and fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Cut the white rolls in half. Spread the bases generously with pork liver pâté. Top with a few slices of chà lua, then add the fried pork, followed  in order by the salted cucumbers, pickled daikons and carrots, a few coriander leaves, and, finally,  a generous dollop of Sriracha mayonnaise.

Sang choi bao of Sichuan lamb with smoked eggplant nahm prik

SERVES about 12

This dish is another happy marriage. Australians love sang choi bao – it’s a classic suburban Chinese restaurant dish that everyone grew up eating. And what better to pair it with than lamb, Australia’s favourite protein. Eggplant works really well with lamb, so this dish is just a combination of best mates. Prepare to marinate the lamb a day ahead.

Eggplant nahm prik

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) large eggplants
1 pickled jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped
10 coriander (cilantro) roots, washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
15 g (½ oz) small long red chillies, roughly chopped
50 g (1¾ oz) white miso paste
5 g (1⁄8 oz) bonito flakes (katsuoboshi)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce

Roast the eggplants over an open flame (a gas hob works well) until the skin is nicely charred all over and the flesh is soft.

Transfer them (blistered skin and all) to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam them for 20 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully remove and discard the charred skin.

Put the flesh into the bowl of a food processor and whizz along with the rest of the ingredients. Taste it. It should be sour, salty and smoky. Adjust the seasoning to your taste with more lime or fish sauce if necessary.

Marinated lamb

4 garlic cloves, peeled
250 g (9 oz) fermented tofu (fuyu)
3½ tablespoons Knorr Liquid Seasoning
150 ml (5 fl oz) shaoxing wine
2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless lamb leg, all sinew removed, diced into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces

Blend all the ingredients except the lamb in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a bowl, add the lamb and toss well to coat. Marinate overnight in the fridge, covered, or for at least 2 hours.

The rest

Vegetable oil, for frying
Kernels from 4 cobs of corn
1 bunch garlic chives, snipped into 5 mm (¼ inch) lengths
150 g (5½ oz) unsalted roasted peanuts
100 ml (3½ fl oz) maple syrup
100 g (3½ oz) Lao Gan Ma chilli oil (with peanuts)
Baby cos (romaine) lettuce leaves, to serve
Sprigs of coriander (cilantro), mint, Vietnamese mint and baby shiso leaves, to garnish

Add a little oil to a hot wok over a high heat. Start by frying the lamb in batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the wok, otherwise you’ll end up with stewed meat rather than nicely caramelised pieces.

Fry each batch for 3–4 minutes, until three-quarters cooked. Once you’ve stir-fried all the lamb, return it to the wok and add the corn, garlic chives and peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the wok by half. Finally, add the chilli sauce and cook for a further 1 minute.

Serve the lamb in a bowl, with the lettuce cups, herbs and eggplant on the side. Help yourselves!

Lotus ice cream sundae with raspberries and honeycomb

This dish became my signature dessert when I was at Lotus and it had a loyal and devoted following. At the time, everyone in Sydney was trying really hard to do something molecular and Alex Stupak-esque with desserts. While I admired the American chef’s inventive creations, I wanted to do something fun and tasty with real texture, and something my customers could relate to.

Chocolate fudge

340 g (11¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
70 g (2½ oz) liquid glucose
35 g (1¼ oz) cocoa powder
325 g (11½ oz) dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
75 g (2½ oz) unsalted butter
15 g (½ oz) xanthan gum

Fill a large saucepan with 390 ml (13½ fl oz) water. Add the sugar, glucose, cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon salt and heat over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then add the chocolate and butter. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chocolate and butter melt. Whisk to combine and then bring back up to the boil. Using a hand-held blender, mix in the xanthan gum, which will thicken the fudge. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then transfer the fudge into a covered container and put in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Lotus ice cream sundae. Photo: Jason Loucas.

Honeycomb

170 g (5¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon honey
65 g (2¼ oz) liquid glucose
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Line a small baking tray with baking paper. To make the caramel, add the sugar, honey, liquid glucose and 1½ tablespoons water to a small saucepan and put over a high heat. Resist the urge to stir, just allow the heat to begin to transform the sugar. If crystals start to appear, you can give the saucepan a little swirl, or use a wet pastry brush to brush down the side of the pan.

Once a light caramel is achieved (about 155°C/310°F on a sugar thermometer), quickly whisk in the bicarbonate of soda, then immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared tray. Leave to cool at room temperature until it hardens. Break the honeycomb into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate, as the sugars will melt and soften the honeycomb.

Raspberry sauce

500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) frozen raspberries
175 g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

Add the raspberries and sugar to a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until a semi-thick consistency is achieved. You don’t want to cook the sauce too long as this will create jam; there should still be a little freshness about it.

To serve

Vanilla ice cream, or a good-quality vanilla bean ice cream will do you just fine
Fresh raspberries
Salted peanuts

Warm the chocolate fudge in a microwave until hot. Spoon some raspberry sauce into each of six serving bowls. Add 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream and top with some shards of honeycomb, raspberries and peanuts. Serve the chocolate fudge in a jug on the side so everyone can pour as little (or as much) as they like.

This is an edited extract from Mr Hong by Dan Hong with Melissa Leong; photography by Jason Loucas. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

 

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