Archive for October, 2011

The Rockpool Tonic

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by Dave

Tomorrow is Melbourne Cup Day – the race that stops the nation –  so we figure that not too many people will be hanging out to read our blog… especially if you’re in Victoria and enjoying one of the best public holidays in the country.

So, how does one celebrate this great day?? Certainly not slaving away behind a hot stove (unless you work in the hospitality industry, in which case you probably don’t have a choice). You surely need something to whet your whistle and get you into the spirit. How about a refreshing G & T with a bit of a Rockpool twist?

The Rockpool Tonic

Makes 1

50ml Plymouth Gin (any London dry gin will work here)
60ml Tonic water
10ml Campari
Slice of orange or ruby grapefruit, to garnish


Simply put all of the ingredients into a big double rocks glass, then fill with ice cubes. Garnish with the citrus slice.


Could it be any simpler (or more delicious)?!! Enjoy Melbourne Cup Day everyone!

Grilled Aged Rib-Eye with Tomato, Onion and Chipotle Salsa

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by Dave


Grilled Aged Rib-Eye with Tomato, Onion and Chipotle Salsa

Serves 4

2 x 250g grass fed rib-eye steaks
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

4 large vine-ripened tomatoes
1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ½ tbsp chipotle chilli powder
1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lime


Season the steaks well with sea salt up to 2 hours before cooking, and allow them to come to room temperature.

To make the salsa, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the tomatoes and onion in a small ovenproof container (that hold the tomatoes snugly), pour the olive oil over and season with salt. Roast for 1 hour until the skis of the tomatoes burn a little. Remove from the oven, pull off the tomato skins, then place the contents of the container in a small saucepan and mush the tomatoes with a pair of tongs. You should have a sauce with lots of olive oil floating. Bring it to the boil (the oil will blend in), reduce by a third, then add the chipotle powder and mix through. Cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the parsley and lime juice, check the seasoning and add some pepper.

Heat a flat or ridged grill pan on top of the stove or heat the barbecue to very hot.

Rub the steaks with a little oil. Cook them for about 2 minutes (for rare), then turn over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Allow the meat to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Place a steak in the middle of each plate and place a dollop of room-temperature salsa on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with your favourite potatoes and a bowl of boiled greens.

*Chipotle chillies are jalapeños that have been dried and smoked. Ground, they are a wonderful addition to all sorts of dressings and sauces.

This recipe appeared in the Good Weekend, October 29th 2011

Rockpool Classic Dish – John Dory Fillets Seared in Indian Pastry with Tomato and Cardamom Sauce

Friday, October 28th, 2011 by Dave

This is one of those real iconic Rockpool dishes – it’s been bouncing on and off the menu at Rockpool for years in some variation or another. What I love about this dish (besides John Dory) is the combination of the rich, spicy tomato and cardamom sauce with the tang of the yoghurt – many a bread off-cut has been smothered in this after service! The tomato and cucumber salad give this dish a very summery feel, perfect for the warmer weather that’s almost upon us.

This dish may seem daunting, and it’s certainly a step up from beginner, but well worth having a go. The tomato and cardamom sauce can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for a week or two, but you should really make the pastry on the day. You can use other fish – leatherjacket, snapper or mulloway all would work well, just ensure that they are thin fillets. The flat grill on your barbecue is also a perfect place to cook the fish (you might be able to fit them all on at once) – just make sure the heat isn’t too fierce.

John Dory Fillets Seared in Indian Pastry with Tomato and Cardamom Sauce

Serves 4

4 x 180g John Dory fillets, skin off
Clarified butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into 1cm chunks
2 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
Small handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
80ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ½ a lemon

Tomato and Cardamom Sauce
150ml vegetable oil
2 brown onions, finely diced
50g ginger, finely diced
10 garlic cloves, finely diced
Sea salt
6 cloves, roasted and ground
8 cardamom pods, roasted and ground
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
8 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice

Indian Pastry
1 cup plain flour
½ cup wholemeal flour
Pinch sea salt
1 egg
100ml yoghurt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
10ml water


To make the Tomato and Cardamom sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based pot. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, until the onions caramelise, about 1 hour. Add the spices, cook for a further 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

To make the Indian pastry, combine the two flours with the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the egg, yoghurt, oil and water. Mix with a fork until it forms a sticky mass, then tip out onto the bench and knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour as you go, but don’t make the dough too dry. Allow the dough to rest for 40 minutes, then divide into 4 balls. Roll each ball out as thinly as possible on a lightly floured bench and lay each pastry sheet on a sheet of baking paper. Place one fillet of John Dory on each pastry sheet and cut around it with a sharp paring knife. Flip the pastry and fish over and put back onto the baking sheet, so that the fish is now on the bottom and the pastry on top.

Heat the tomato and cardamom sauce in a small pot until just warm. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato and coriander leaves. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick pan with a good amount of clarified butter. When hot, reduce the heat to low and gently add the fish to the pan pastry side down. Season the fish with a little salt and cook until the pastry is golden brown.  Very carefully turn the fish over and cook flesh side down until the fish is just done. Remove the fish from the pan, set aside on a warm tray and repeat the process with the remaining fish.

Spoon the tomato and cardamom sauce onto four plates. Place a tablespoon of yoghurt over the sauce on each plate and gently place the fish on top of the sauce.

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl with some sea salt and pepper and use this to dress the cucumber salad. Spoon the salad over the cooked fish.

Braised Chicken and Rice, Korean Style, Good Weekend October 22nd

Monday, October 24th, 2011 by Dave

Braised Chicken and Rice, Korean Style

Serves 4

8 free-range chicken thighs, bone in, skin on and chopped in half
1 large waxy potato (try binjte or nicola varieties), peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
3 brown onions, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges
2 large eggs
400g cooked rice
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 green (spring) onions, cut into rounds with some of the dark-green part

¾ cup light soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped green (spring) onions
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
3 tbsp rice wine
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

To make the seasoning, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to let the flavours blend.

Place the chicken in a large pot with the vegetables and eggs (still in the shell) and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, skimming any from the surface. Pour in the seasoning mixture and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until everything is tender.

To serve, divide the rice among 4 bowls. With a slotted spoon, divide the chicken and vegetables among the bowls. Return the broth to the stove and boil. While it is reducing, remove and peel the eggs and cut in half. Add half a boiled egg to each bowl, pour some of the reduced sauce over and sprinkle with sesame seeds and onion rounds.

This recipe appeared in the Good Weekend Magazine, October 22nd

Lobster and Burghul Salad with Harissa Mayonnaise

Friday, October 21st, 2011 by Dave

With the weather finally starting to warm up - at least here in Sydney – it’s out with the braises and in with the salads… This is one of our favourite Qantas First dishes – and is equally delicious with cooked prawns, or even poached or roast chicken…

Lobster and Burghul Salad with Harissa Mayonnaise

Serves 4


1 cooked lobster tail, sliced into medallions
100g fine burghul (cracked wheat)
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeds removed, cut into 1cm dice
300g baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced
2 roasted red capsicums, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
Handful coriander leaves
1 preserved lemon, skin only, finely sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Lemon Dressing
240ml extra virgin olive oil
80ml lemon juice
½t Dijon mustard
½t caster sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Harissa Mayonnaise
15g harissa (can be bought from good delicatessens)
85g mayonnaise


To make the lemon dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard and sugar in a bowl and whisk together to combine. Pour in the oil whilst whisking continuously and season with salt and pepper. 

To make the harissa mayonnaise, combine the harissa and mayonnaise and check the taste – it should be spicy without being too aggressive. If it seems too thick add a little water.

For the salad, place the burghul in a bowl. Bring 200ml of water to the boil and pour over the burghul and set aside for 30 minutes. Tip into a strainer to drain off any excess water.

Combine the burghul in a bowl with the remaining salad ingredients, season with salt and pepper and add enough dressing to just coat all the salad ingredients.

To serve, divide the dressed salad among 4 plates. Top each salad with lobster medallions, then spoon over some harissa mayonnaise.

Download Printable Recipe (PDF)

Rockpool Creative Council #2

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by Dave

The second edition of our Rockpool Creative Council (click here for the first edition) took place down at Spice Temple Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. The concept has been altered slightly for the Spice Temples due to the size of their kitchen teams – they’re not as vast as those of all three Bar & Grill’s. Spice Temple Head Chef Ben Pollard gave us this report from down south:

In participating in the Creative Council we decided our kitchen staff levels are a bit small to do teams – and they just don’t cross over enough!! So we are doing individual efforts, sticking to the parameters of our cuisine.

Brendan (Spice Temple Sous Chef) is the first of our team to attempt the challenge – he used Fremantle octopus hands and slow-baked them is a kind of salt crust, but wrapped in foil with a little dark soy.

He has paired this with broad beans which are quite popular in Chinese cuisine and taken a dressing called “Hot and Garlicky Sauce” made from light soy infused with aromatics (star anise and cinnamon),sugar, lots of garlic, black vinegar, chilli oil and sesame oil. After trying it we decided that it needed shallot rounds as well, to carry some of the sauce through the dish – it was definitely a winner!! We reckon it’s going to be perfect as an entree…

The octopus is a sustainable product and was so tender after the baking, it’s meatiness complementing the sauce very well.

Seasoning with dark soy.

Adding salt.

The reveal – beautifully slow baked octopus, nicely glazed with the dark soy.

The final product – absolutely delicious, all sticky from the dark soy. Due to hit the menu at Spice Temple Melbourne soon!

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Launch at The Waiting Room Melbourne

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 by Dave

A couple of weeks ago The Waiting Room Melbourne was lucky to host the lauch of Genfiddich’s new whisky, the Rich Oak 14 Year Old. The events were held in Sydney at Rockpool Bar & Grill as well as at TWR Melbourne (you can read Simon Food Favourites great blog on the Sydney event here). Will Oxenham, Bar Manager at TWR wrote a story for us with the photos graciously supplied by William Grant & Sons.

Glenfiddich Old Fashioned with Stout Reduction

“A couple of Thursday’s ago saw us host Glenfiddich’s Global Brand Ambassador, Ian Millar, introducing the new addition to their range, The Glenfiddich 14 Year Old.

With three sessions in the day, it was a large and exhaustive operation, but it really was one of the best whisky tastings I’ve been a part of for some while (And I’ve been to a few!). Ian’s in-depth knowledge of all things Glenfiddich, whisky production, & spirit production in general was something to behold, and there wasn’t a single attendee who left without having taken an amazing amount of helpful info away with them.

The ‘Whisky Salon’

The room set and ready

The Glenfiddich range with tasting ‘props’

Ian went through the basics of whisky production, and then moved through the full Glenfiddich range, from the 12 year old to the 14, 15, 18, 21 & the 30 year old. All the whiskies were absolutely singing, and my favourites were the leathery 21 year old, and the new, spicy addition to the range, the 14 year old. Each of the whiskies were tasted with tasting ‘props’: little glasses handed out by our fantastic assistant for the day, Sam, with dried fruits, leathers, chocolates and woods, designed prompt your palate and prepare you for the flavour explosions coming through in the range.

Tasting ready

The day was broken up into three sessions, and started out with the charismatic Glaswegian Barry Chalmers, Glenfiddich Ambassador to the Asia-Pacific region (and good mate of Steve and I), running through the portfolio with about 15 key personalities from the Melbourne bar scene, and was extremely well received, before Ian took over for representatives from the Coles Group, and then a select group of smaller, boutique liquor merchants from around Victoria.”


The Glenfiddich Ambassador and some of the attendees

TWR mini cheese burgers

Rockpool would like to thank William Grant & Sons for their support through these events both in Sydney and Melbourne.

Barbecued Pork Chops with Apple, Potato, Parsley and Lemon Salad, Good Weekend October 15th

Monday, October 17th, 2011 by Dave

Barbecued Pork Chops with Apple, Potato, Parsley and Lemon Salad

Serves 4

4 free range pork chops (about 250-300g each)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
80g unsalted butter
2 kipfler potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra

Remove the chops from the refrigerator 2 hours before you intend to start cooking, and season liberally with sea salt.

Using a microplane, grate ½ the zest from 1 lemon into a bowl. Cut the top and bottom off the lemon and, with a paring knife, remove the remaining skin and pith and discard. Fillet the lemon and add the fillets to the bowl with the zest. Squeeze the juice from the second lemon into the bowl.

In a small non-stick pan, sauté the apple in the butter for about 5 minutes. When cool, place in the bowl with the lemon.

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and, when cool, add to the lemon mix. Add the parsley, salt to taste, a good grind of pepper and 3 tbsp olive oil and mix the salad.

Preheat the barbecue to hot. Splash the chops with a little olive oil and shake off any excess. For nice criss-cross grill marks, place the chops on the grill bars and cook for 2-3 minutes. Rotate the chops 90 degrees and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until done to your liking. Place the chops on a plate, cover with foil to keep warm and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

Place a chop on each plate, drizzle with any juices, sprinkle with salt and place the salad half off and half on the chop.


This recipe appeared in the Good Weekend, October 15th 2011

Prune and Armagnac Crème Brûlée

Friday, October 14th, 2011 by Dave

The last of our recipe teasers from Neil’s new book, Rockpool Bar & Grill… Enjoy!

“This is the classic combination of prunes and Armagnac combined with another classic, crème brûlée, which makes it that little bit more indulgent.” Catherine

Armagnac prunes
12 pitted prunes
500 ml freshly brewed hot black tea
250 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
80 g Armagnac

Place the prunes and tea in a bowl, cover with aluminium foil and set aside for 1 hour to infuse. Strain and discard the liquid.

Combine the sugar, vanilla extract, citrus zest, juice and 250g of water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Add the prunes, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the prunes are tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool in the liquid.

Strain the prunes, discarding the liquid. Place the prunes in a container, add the Armagnac, cover and set aside for at least 2 hours before using. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Vanilla Crème Brûlée
450 g pouring (single) cream (35 % fat content)
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 quantity Armagnac prunes
20 g Armagnac 
5 egg yolks   
70g castor sugar

Place the cream and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and heat until hot. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 1 hour to infuse.

Preheat a non fan-forced oven to 160°C. Coarsely chop the prunes and divide between 4 x shallow 250ml capacity ramekins. Press the prunes into the bases to help stop them floating up in the custard, Divide the Armagnac between the ramekins. Line a deep roasting tray with a folded tea towel and place the ramekins on top.

Reheat the cream over medium heat until hot. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale, then gradually add the warm milk, while whisking continuously. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug. Try and get as many vanilla seeds as possible into the custard. Set aside for 5 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface, then pour the custard evenly between the ramekins.

Fill the tray with enough hot water to come two-thirds of the way up the side of the ramekins. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and pierce with a few holes to release the steam. Carefully, trying not to splash the water into the ramekins, place the tray in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until set. To test if they’re ready, gently shake a remekin; the custard should have a uniform jelly-like wobble. If the custards are not set, continue to bake until set. Remove from the oven, uncover and allow to cool slightly in the water bath. When cool enough to handle, remove the ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To Serve
50g caster sugar

Sprinkle each vanilla crème brûlée with one-quarter of the sugar, then wipe the edges to remove any excess sugar. Use a kitchen blowtorch or place the ramekins under a preheated hot grill, and caramelise the sugar, but do not burn. You’re aiming for a nice amber brown not black, which will make it bitter. Refrigerate for 5 minutes before serving. This will help the caramel set and crisp up.

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Neil Perry (Murdoch Books)

Spice Temple Melbourne Imperial Dinner

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by Neil

When I first came up with the idea for our Spice Temple Regional Dinners, I was thinking that they would be a great way to showcase the unique elements of the cuisines we focus on at Spice Temple - Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Xinjiang. So many Chinese restaurants in Australia base their menus around Cantonese cuisine, and the regional dinners would be a wonderful opportunity to pay homage to the cooking of individual provinces that most people don’t know much about. Our Hunan dinner last month was a great success, and many of the dishes immediately found their way onto the Spice Temple menus.

However, thinking back to the great meal I had at Heston’s newest restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, where he takes long forgotten dishes and brings them back into the modern world, it gave me inspiration do the same for a one-off Imperial Chinese dinner at ST. Delving back into the history of Chinese cuisine (and there’s plenty to delve into!) was great fun, as was testing and adapting all these dishes from the past.

The floor staff getting ready for the pre-service briefing – with a brand new menu, we didn’t want any hiccups.

Spice Temple Melbourne Head Chef Ben Pollard running through the dishes.

The clay pots all lined up for our First Ranking Official Pork…

Duke Huan’s Goose (or duck, as it was) en place.

Jade Belt Fish Rolls prepped and ready for the steamer…

Cooking the snow pea tendrils for the first dish…

‘Playful Dragon and Phoenix’ c.1519 AD - the first dish of the evening and a real winner. The chicken was first marinated in shao xing and salt, then stir fried with the squid and black and white fungus and the snow pea tendrils. Great flavours and great textures.

‘The Most Delicious Dish Under Heaven’ c.1021 AD - this dish delivered as promised, and then some! For such a simple stir fry, this was amazing. The clams were stir fried with lots of ginger, pork fat and jicama – then a little cornflour was added to thicken the sauce and finished with ground white pepper. The clams were so succulent, and the tiny bit of cornflour added carried the flavour of the pepper making the dish almost spicy. Straight onto the menu!

‘Jade Belt Fish Rolls’ c.1680 AD - This was such a beautiful combination of flavours - prosciutto, mushroom and bamboo shoots all wrapped up in the whiting.  But the best thing about this dish was the awesome textures – the wonderful, gelatinous steamed whiting and the crunch of the bamboo shoots.

‘Li Bai’s Chicken’ c.701 AD - Another textural feast – the soft poached chicken and shiitake mushrooms, hand chopped prawn mousse that’s gently steamed, and wok-fried biodynamic bamboo shoots. Just finished with a light soy broth, this was probably my favourite dish of the night.

‘First Ranking Official Pork’ c.1213 AD - This was so delicious – the pork belly was first marinated in red bean curd, then braised with ginger, garlic, spices and red rice. The claypots were lined with fried cabbage leaves, then the pork was transferred to the pots, covered up and steamed. Yum! 

‘Duke Huan’s Goose’ c.643 BC – Unluckily, there weren’t enough geese for our dinner – so we had to substitute duck instead! The duck was fried until golden, then braised until tender in loads of spices. Another cracker!

‘Box-Shaped Bean Curd with Minced Meat’ c.1500 AD - a surprisingly rich dish. First we fried the firm tofu, cut a lid out of it, scooped out the middle and filled it with a stir fry of pork, dried shrimp and ginger – that right there is as good a base to any dish! We put the lid back on and steamed them until they were hot inside, then finished with a black fungus and black vinegar sauce. You can’t beat the texture of the firm tofu when it’s fried..

Another great night, all the staff had a really good time and I hope all the guests did as well. We can’t wait to do the next one, but unfortunately it won’t be until the new year… we’ll keep you posted!