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Life, Love and Lobster on Tuesdays

Posted: 17 April 2013 By Teage Ezard

This is the recipe featured in Graeme Simsion’s international bestseller, The Rosie Project. The hero, Don Tillman, a genetics professor somewhere on the autism spectrum, has invented a “Standardised Meal System” to maximise quality and nutrition while minimising shopping time and waste. Tuesday evenings he cooks this crayfish, mango and avocado salad – and it’s what he has scheduled when the feisty and disorganised Rosie crashes his one-man dinner party.

Graeme chose the recipe because he and his wife have made it on several occasions: “it’s probably the most complicated thing we’ve ever cooked more than once – but the results are worth it.” Graeme is a founder of wine distributor Pinot Now and recommends a wooded Sauvignon Blanc, like Domaine A from Tasmania, as a great match.

More information about The Rosie Project –“ life, love and lobster on Tuesdays” at www.therosieproject.com.au


Crayfish, Mango and Avocado Salad with Wasabi Flying Fish Roe, Soy and Bonito Dressing and Crispy Seaweed Salad

Crayfish
1 live medium crayfish (about 1.5 kg)
Peel of 1 orange, roughly sliced
Peel of 1 lemon, roughly sliced
½ head celery, sliced
1 teaspoon white coriander seeds
½ bunch of coriander
½ bunch dill
1 cup rice wine vinegar
Sea salt to taste

Mango and Avocado Salad
1 large or 2 small heads of white witlof
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
Salt and pepper
1 large ripe mango
1 ripe avocado
Squeeze of lemon juice
100g somen noodles
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Soy and Bonito Dressing
½ tablespoon dried dashi
2 tablespoons dried bonito flakes
1 tablespoon very hot water
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
40ml Japanese rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
150ml peanut oil
Juice of ½ lemon

Crispy Seaweed Salad
1 L vegetable oil (for frying)
2 leeks (white part only) cut into 6cm lengths
1 sheet nori seaweed
Salt
3 teaspoons tobiko (wasabi flying fish roe)


Crayfish
To kill the crayfish, place it in the freezer for one hour, where it will go to sleep. Place the orange and lemon peel, celery, coriander seeds, fresh herbs, vinegar and salt in a large 5 litre cooking pot. Fill three-quarters full with water and bring to the boil. Plunge the crayfish into the rapidly boiling stock, then cover with a lid and turn off the flame. Let the crayfish sit in the hot stock for 25 minutes, then drain and allow it to cool. Once the crayfish reaches room temperature, refrigerate it until completely chilled.
When the crayfish is cold, pull the tail section away from the head. Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the inner shell of the tail to get to the meat. Carefully draw out the tail flesh in one piece and reserve. Remove the legs from the body. Break each joint then pick out the meat using a skewer or crab-pick. Cover and refrigerate both tail and leg meat until ready to assemble the final dish.

Mango and Avocado Salad
Slice off the base of the witlof then pull away the individual leaves, discarding any which are damaged. Finely slice each of the leaves lengthwise and place in a mixing bowl. Dress lightly with hazelnut oil and season with salt and pepper.
Slice off each mango cheek and use a large spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh. Dice into bite-size pieces and reserve. Slice the avocado in half lengthwise, remove the stone and carefully scoop out the flesh. Dice into bite-size pieces, toss in a little lemon juice to stop it browning and reserve.
Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil and cook the somen noodles until al dente (about 3-4 minutes). Tip into a colander and refresh under cold water to stop the noodles cooking further. Drain well, then tip into a bowl, toss with peanut oil and reserve.

Soy and Bonito Dressing
Dissolve the dashi and bonito flakes in the hot water to form a paste. Allow to cool completely. Place the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, sweet soy sauce and prepared dashi paste into a food processor. Blend to a puree, then slowly add the peanut oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens, Stir in the lemon juice and reserve.

Crispy Seaweed Salad
In a medium pot or a small deep fryer, heat the vegetable oil to 180 degrees. Cut the leek in half, lengthwise, then shred it finely into hair-like strands. Fry in the hot oil until it turns golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Allow to cool, then season with salt and store in a dry place until needed. Cut the nori sheet in half and shred it finely into hair-like strands. Reserve until needed.

To Serve
Using a very sharp knife, slice the crayfish tail meat into rounds. Depending on size, it should yield between 18-24 slices. Roughly chop the crayfish leg meat and put in a large mixing bowl with the witlof, mango, avocado and somen noodles. Pour over dressing and combine gently. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place three Chinese soup spoons on each plate and divide the salad equally between them. Top each little mound of salad with a slice of crayfish tail meat followed by a teaspoon of wasabi flying fish roe. Finish with a pinch each of fried leek and nori.

Serves six.

Recipe from ezard: contemporary australian food by Teage Ezard (unfortunately now out of print, try eBay!)

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