Cook this: Potato Gnocchi with Lap Cheong and Kombu Butter from How Wild Things Are

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“It may sound like a strange combination, but it works,” says chef Analiese Gregory

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Our cookbook of the week is How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with the author.

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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Fresh Ricotta with Bottarga, Peas, Broad Beans and Asparagus.

When chef Analiese Gregory worked in London, England in her late teens, she was put on a gnocchi station at a French restaurant. “I used to spend 50% of my day making four types of gnocchi,” she says, “but I’ve come to really, really like it.

The following basic gnocchi recipe has its roots in those early days, but the rest of the elements came later. Working in Sydney, Australia, after stints in Paris and then Auckland in her native New Zealand, she began to incorporate more influences from her upbringing.

Gnocchi with lap cheong (the Cantonese name for Chinese sausage) blends its European background with its Chinese heritage. “I hate the word, but maybe that was one of my first little forays into fusion,” says Gregory.

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“I really like lap cheong. I just have this deep love for it, ”she adds. One day, she decided to combine it with some of her other favorite ingredients – gnocchi, chili sauce and kombu – to see what would happen. She liked it, and so did others.

“This may be too strange for some people,” says Gregory, “but the general consensus is that it works.”

How Things Are Wild by Analiese Gregory
In her first cookbook, How Wild Things Are, chef Analiese Gregory shares a slice of slow-motion life in Tasmania. Photo by Hardie Grant

LAP CHEONG POTATO GNOCCHI AND KOMBU BUTTER

3 lap cheong sausages (cured Chinese pork sausage), thinly sliced
1 bunch of kai lan (Chinese broccoli), washed and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Gnocchi:
2 lb 3 oz (1 kg) floury potatoes
50 g (1 3/4 oz) finely grated Parmesan
2 egg yolks
110 g (4 oz) 00 flour
Olive oil, to mix

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Chili dressing:
50 g (1 3/4 oz) Lao Gan Ma (crispy chili sauce and Sichuan pepper), or other chili sauce
55 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) olive oil
30 g (1 ounce) of honey
1 tablespoon of black vinegar

Kombu Butter:
1 tablespoon of shio kombu
100 g (3 1/2 oz) cultured butter, softened
1 teaspoon of shiro shoyu (a wheat soy sauce)
1 teaspoon of wakame powder

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 175 ° C (340 ° F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.

2nd step

Wash the potatoes and, with the tip of a knife, mark a circle in the skin without cutting a lot of the flesh, about 5 mm (1/4 inch) deep. This will facilitate their separation when cooked. Bake directly on a wire rack for about 1 hour, or until center is tender. Break the potatoes in half and pass the flesh through a drum sieve or through a potato masher.

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Step 3

Weigh 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of the potato flesh in a bowl. Add the Parmesan, egg yolks and a pinch of salt and mix with a spoon. Add the flour and gently fold in, being careful not to over mix.

Step 4

Turn the dough over on a floured bench. Divide into four, then roll each into a thin log. Cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) pieces, then gently place the gnocchi on the prepared platters.

Step 5

Cook the gnocchi in batches in slightly simmering salted water. Wait for them to float, then give them another 20 seconds before taking them out and putting them in an ice bath. Once everything is cooked, drain and mix lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate.

Step 6

To make the chili vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients together.

Step 7

To make the kombu butter, rehydrate the shio kombu in 2 tablespoons of water, then chop and mix with the butter, shoyu and wakame powder.

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Step 8

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and brown the gnocchi in two batches, stirring halfway through to brown both sides. Fry the lap cheong until it begins to cook. Return all the gnocchi to the pan, add the kai lan and kombu butter and stir until the leaves start to wilt, about 1 minute. Season with lemon juice and salt if needed. Transfer to plates and season with the chili vinaigrette.

Serves: 4

Recipe and image from How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory © 2021. Reproduced with permission from Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.

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