Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Grilled Scampi tail meat , Pate de foie gras , Passionfruit curd  , Passionfruit pulp and toasted macadamia nuts.

                       Well I must admit cooking scampi is a first for me and may seem rather odd to the europeans out their but the fact of the matter is scampi is just not readily available here in Australia and especially the waters of south east Queensland. I guess our scampi would be banana, red spot or tiger prawns or the unusual Moreton bay bug. The closest anatomically would be the fresh water Red claw but with an entirely different taste all together. All in all scampi tastes very much like prawn and looks very much like an oversized prawn but with claws instead of nippers. This flavour combination of scampi, pate and passionfruit sounds odd to say the least but surprisingly works perfectly. Pate de foie gras is pate or paste made from duck or in this case fattened goose livers, foie gras meaning fat liver. My intentions originally were to accompany the scampi tail with foie gras entier which is the geese livers served cooked and sliced but this is yet another hard sourced ingredient and I was only able to get a hold of foie gras in a tin imported from france. The presentation and effect would not have been the same so I turned the livers into a pate instead. In the past and the practise still goes on in some corners of the globe, the geese were raised on a force fed diet. Handlers would hold the necks of the geese and force figs down their throats to fatten them up in turn fattening their livers for the production of foie gras. This method no longer exists in modern day animal raising due to the up roar of the activists and was stopped, but many countries claim to have held on to the traditional methods and revived them. Below is a depiction of this method of geese raising in early Egyptian times, chefs of the late 1800's claim to have seen livers of up to three pounds in weight by using this method. As I've seen many times in nature, when something is enlarged artificially or oversized crops on the one plant are produced the yield becomes greater but quality is compromised. I would tend to say this would be the case in fattening livers by force feeding, not to mention the stress on the animal and what that does to the taste and the overall texture of the product. I've seen this first hand while vine pruning for a boutique vineyard in the McLaren vale region. The viticulturist had specifically asked me to reduce the budding points or fruiting points on each vine to improve the overall quality of the berries. As a result of this technique, that vintage of shiraz one a gold medal in a few wine shows which gave me great satisfaction that my hard work had been rewarded and I'd lent a big hand in achieving a quality product.  
                     I set out making the pate for this dish by melting some butter in a fry pan, I then added onions and sauté until soft. I then turned the heat up and browned of the livers, in my case the livers came already cooked so I was basically just adding some caramelisation to the pan. Once ready I deglazed the pan with some brandy lifting off any bits stuck to the pan to this I added some more butter and some cream and this was placed into blender and pureed until smooth. I then tasted for seasoning and corrected accordingly before pouring into a greased mould and placed in the fridge to set ( about 3 hours). During this time I melted some more butter and poured it over the semi set mousse to seal. The passionfruit curd was made by simmering some passionfruit puree with a little agar agar, whisking to dissolve the agar. The puree was then removed from the heat and swiped on to the plate with some fresh pulp and seeds. I then cut the tail off the scampi and removed the shell leaving the tail flap. I brushed the meat with garlic butter and grilled for about 10 minutes or just as the meat starts to take colour of which I then removed and chilled. In a hot skillet I toasted off some chopped macadamia nuts to give the dish some textural contrast.
                    To plate I swiped the sauce on the plate adding some seeds and pulp. I then arranged pieces of the pate de foie gras and top them with the scampi tail meat, drizzling sauce over the meat. I then scattered the macadamia nuts on the plate to accompany.

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