I need to make a confession: I am a sucker for cooking shows. I love them all, even those that have nothing to do with actual cooking and only explore the neurosis of Michelin star chefs. For some, cooking the perfect plate of food can become an unhealthy obsession. So much drama can be hidden in a crunchy pavlova or in an innocent caramel sauce.
I am, for instance, in a ‘complicated relationship’ with plating. I stubbornly practice with piping, I experiment with different textures and colors and I recently even bought a food tweezer. But then, I open this instagram account and my plating fantasies deflate like a chou pastry that I forgot to puncture.
If there is a show that I genuinely follow as religiously as my grandma listens to Vatican’s Radio Maria, is Masterchef Australia. I love it so much that when he wants to comfort me, the viking addresses me like George Calombaris does when a participant is about to lose it. And if I am really desperate you can even hear me whisper: Yes George!
My love for the show is so absolute that once a month we have mystery box night in our household. If you have ever seen the show you know what I am talking about, but for all the neophytes out there it works like this: my husband goes to the grocery store, assembles a weird set of ingredients and I need to invent a recipe and cook it in two hours without using internet or cooking books.
This time the list included: lemons, swordfish, anchovies paste, garlic and onion, whiskey, cauliflower and Gochujang . I made it work.
(I cheated and I added pine nuts and capers)
Swordfish Roulade with cauliflower purée, smoked wishey mousse and Gochujang custard
(for two hungry people)
2 slices of swordfish (1/2 cm high)
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1tbsp of anchovy paste
1/3 of a cup of pine nuts
1tbsp of capers
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
Olive oil EVO
2 tbsp Heavy cream
Fry the garlic with 1/2 cup of olive oil, when the garlic is about to soften, add the capers and fry them for 30 seconds to one minute. Finally add the anchovy paste and let it melt into the oil. Cool the oil down. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, add the olive/garlic/capers/anchovy oil and the pine nuts, mix it until the breadcrumbs start to soften, add some cream until the breadcrumbs lose the dryness but don’t let the mixture become too wet. Set aside.
Put some clean film on the swordfish and delicately pound the fish to tenderize it. Cut two rectangles out of the slices and save the trimmings. Fill the rectangles with the breadcrumb mixture, grate some lemon rind and roll it into the shape of a roll. Wrap with clean film (like it was a sausage) and close both ends with two knots.
Bring some water to the boil and cook the rolled fish for two minutes. Remove the clean film and pan fry it with some olive oil for three more minutes. Let it rest for 5-6 minutes before plating.
Half head of Cauliflower
1/2 stick of Butter
1/2 cup of heavy cream (more if needed)
salt and pepper
Pull the florets off the head with your fingers, using a knife when you need to. Break or cut the florets into smaller pieces. Boil the cauliflower in salted water for 15 minutes. Using a blender or an immersion blender, blend cauliflower with butter and cream to form a very smooth purée. Add a bit of anchovies paste and keep adding until it tastes delicious. Season with salt if needed.
Whiskey and swordfish mousse
1 small yellow onion thinly sliced
trimmings of swordfish, diced
half a cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
Put the butter and the onion in a pan and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the swordfish and cook for 3-4 minutes, add some whiskey to the pan and with a match carefully lit it on fire. To stop the fire put a lid on top of the pan. When the alcohol has evaporated add the cream and cook for 3 more minutes. Blend it with a stick blender and set aside.
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
Whisk the egg yolks with sugar, add flour and continue whisking until it becomes fluffy and light. Add gochujang and combine into the mixture. Put the milk into a pan over medium heat. Once the milk is hot, whisk into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Return to the stove and cook until it thickens like a normal custard.
Put some mousse on the plate. Cut the roulade into two and place it on the mousse. Pipe some cauliflower purée and some custard. Grind some lemon zest on top.
Important: you’ll see in the picture that I added just a few circles of purée and custard. Big mistake both are too delicious not to add more. Forget the plating, it’s all about the taste!