Kiwi Feast

Pictured above: Fresh Green Shell Marlborough Mussels Steamed with Thai Spices

Photo by John Sherlock



Recipes from New Zealand by Nathan Fong


Barbecued Asian Marinated Butterflied Leg of Lamb

This wonderful marinated leg of lamb is a recipe by Cuisine Magazine food editor and my friend Lauraine Jacobs, who prepared it for us at a dinner welcoming me to her country. Towards the end of the trip, we met again and I commented on how wonderful the food scene was and she exclaimed in delight “ … so what took you so long to visit?” I’ll be back soon!

Serves 8 to 10.


1 large boned and butterflied leg of lamb

3-4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin slivers

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Thai red chili, finely chopped

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 limes

Small bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped


Trim the lamb of any extra fat, but leave a thin covering of fat over the meat. Cut a few slashes in the surface skin so the marinade can find its way to the centre of the meat.


Mix the kaffir lime leaves, crushed garlic and chili together in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, soy and oyster sauces and mix everything together well. Smear this sauce over every surface of the lamb, rubbing in well. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper. Leave for at least half an hour before cooking.


Heat the barbecue until it is very hot, then place the lamb on the grill. Turn off the burner directly under the lamb and reduce the heat of the other burners to low.


Cover with the barbecue hood. Turn the lamb occasionally and cook until the surface is crisp and the meat cooked through. You will see the lamb start to shrink ever so slightly when it’s cooked, and this should be about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how thick the meat and how hot the barbecue.


Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before carving into thin slices. Place slices on a platter and squeeze over the juice of one of the limes. Cut the other lime into thin wedges and arrange these over the lamb. Scatter the chopped cilantro over and serve.


Tempura Inari Pockets

This creative Asian-inspired dish is by chef Peter Gordon, one of New Zealand’s famed international chefs who owns the restaurants dine in Auckland and The Providores in London. This starter course showcases a simple inari, a fried tofu pocket stuffed with seasoned sushi rice infused with roasted tomato and lightly tempura battered. The accompanying refreshing avocado puree and the nori sauce along with a yuzu vinaigrette dressed salad makes this an outstanding Kiwi fusion dish.


Inari pockets

2/3 cup sushi rice

1 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 tomatoes, cut in half, drizzled with olive oil,salt and pepper and slowly roasted until semi-dried (325°F for 2 hours)

1 green onion, finely chopped

10 inari pockets (available at Japanese food stores)

All-purpose flour

1 pkg tempura batter mix

Canola oil, for deep frying


Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold running water until liquid runs clear. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1 cup cold water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil, then place a lid on and turn to low heat and cook 12 minutes; do not take the lid off. Take from the heat and drizzle on the mirin and rice vinegar, put lid back on. Begin to finely chop the tomatoes, and if excessively moist, squeeze some of the liquid from them before continuing to chop. Stir into the rice with the green onion and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide into 10 equal portions and stuff the inari pockets, gently pressing them flat and sealing them.


Make tempura batter according to package instructions. Dust pockets with flour before dipping in the tempura batter. Dip the pockets into the batter one at a time and deep fry in hot 350°F oil until crisp and golden. Remove and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towel, keeping warm.


Avocado horseradish tofu puree

1/2 ripe large avocado

100 g silken tofu

1 Tbsp grated horseradish

1 tsp fresh lime juice


Puree everything together until smooth, season with salt.


Sweet nori puree

3 Tbsp mirin

3 Tbsp sake

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar

4 sheets nori, lightly toasted then shredded


Bring liquids to the boil and cook 30 seconds, take off the heat and stir in the nori, then simmer for 30 seconds. Puree finely.
Yuzu dressing:
1 tsp yuzu juice
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Whisk everything together.


To assemble, cut the tempura battered inari pockets in half, on an angle. Dollop some of the nori puree on each plate, place some frisee or mesclun to one side and sit the inari on top; add a dollop of the avocado mixture then drizzle with the yuzu dressing.



Barbecue Duck and Coconut Laksa with Green Tea Soba Noodles

This is a brilliant dish from Peter Gordon’s restaurant in Auckland. Laksa, the curry-infused coconut broth “meal in a soup bowl” is one of Malaysia and Singapore’s most treasured dishes. Traditionally they can be made with various seafoods and the noodles are usually thick rice noodles. At the restaurant, this dish was served with Japanese matcha tea soba noodles and shredded smoked duck. I’ve adapted this dish using a store-bought Chinese duck, which I think is a great substitute!

Serves 4 to 6.


One Chinese barbecued duck

2 Tbsp canola oil

Laksa paste (see recipe below)

6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp palm or brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 cups coconut milk

1 pkg (about 10 to 12 oz) green tea soba noodles

4 squares fried bean curd puffs, halved diagonally

1/2 English cucumber, seeded and julienned

1 cup bean sprouts, blanched

Fresh mint and cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges and fried shallots, to garnish



Remove meat, with as much skin intact, and cut into thin 1/3-inch julienne strips. Set aside.


Heat oil in a hot wok and fry laksa paste for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add stock, sugar, salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add coconut milk, stirring constantly as it heats. Do not boil or the coconut milk will separate.


Cook noodles in salted boiling water until al dente.


Distribute noodles among warmed serving bowls and ladle in the hot soup. Serve with the barbecued duck, cucumber, bean sprouts, mint and cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges and fried shallots.


Laksa Paste

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp grated galangal (or substitute ginger)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, white part only, sliced

6 dried red chilies, soaked and chopped

4 to 6 whole dry roasted macadamia nuts or a small handful of cashews, chopped

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin


Place all ingredients into a mortar and pound until well blended or add to food processor and process until smooth.


Fresh Green Shell Marlborough Mussels Steamed with Thai Spices, Baby Bok Choy, Coconut Cream and Coriander


The Bay of Many Coves, on the breathtaking Marlborough Sound and the Queen Charlotte Inlet at the top end of the Southern Island, is certainly one of the most stunning resorts I have ever stayed at. The contemporary designed glass and wood bungalows are set camouflaged on the hillside amongst the heavy brush of tree ferns and foliage. Mark Jensen, their talented executive chef, executes dishes showcasing their local and seasonal cuisine, many with Asian ingredients. Here he utilizes pungent Thai red curry paste and New Zealand’s famed green shell mussels to create this comforting dish, perfect for the cool autumn weather. We can find fresh green mussels occasionally but if not, our local ones will substitute just fine.

Serves 4.


4 to 4 1/2 pounds fresh Marlborough green shell mussels

2 tsp Thai red curry paste (we make our own, but good quality store-bought is fine)

2 tsp palm sugar

2 tsp fish sauce

1 fresh Thai red chili, seeds removed and finely chopped

2 fresh kaffir lime leaves, bruised to release aroma

1 tsp toasted coriander seeds, then finely ground

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stalk

4 baby bok choy, cut into quarters

1 cup coconut cream


Clean mussel of all barnacles, seaweed, etc. Set aside.


Put all ingredients except for cilantro, bok choy and coconut cream into large pot and bring to the boil. Add mussels, bok choy and cilantro; cover and cook on high for 4-5 minutes or until most mussels are open. Shake pot to mix sauce while cooking. Reduce heat and stir in coconut cream (add more if you want to make it more mild)


Divide into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and slices of fresh limes. Serve with jasmine rice.


Red Thai Curry Paste

Makes about one cup.


17 to 20  prik haeng (dried hot red chilies), halved and seeds discarded

4 tsp coriander seeds

2 fresh lemongrass stalks

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

4 tsp finely chopped peeled fresh or thawed frozen galangal

6 fresh kaffir lime leaves (sometimes called bai makroot), finely chopped

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro roots or stems

5 small shallots, chopped (about 6 Tbsp)

1/4 cup chopped garlic

15 to 20  red prik kii noo (fresh bird’s-eye chilies) or serrano chilies, finely 

2 tsp ga-pi (Thai shrimp paste)

1/2 tsp salt


Special equipment: a large (2-cup) mortar and pestle (preferably granite) 
or a mini food processor


Cut dried chilies into quarter pieces with kitchen shears and soak in warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain well in a sieve.


While chilies soak, toast coriander in a dry small heavy skillet over moderate 
heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes, then cool. Thinly slice lower 6 
inches of lemongrass stalks and finely chop.


Finely grind coriander seeds and peppercorns with mortar and pestle (or in mini food processor), about 2 minutes, then toss together with lemongrass, galangal, lime 
leaves, coriander stems, shallot, garlic, fresh chilies and soaked dried chilies in a bowl.


Pound mixture in 3 batches with mortar and pestle until a fairly smooth paste is 
formed, 8 to 10 minutes per batch, transferring to clean bowl. (If using food 
processor, add about 1 1/2 Tbsp water per batch.) Return all of curry 
paste to mortar, then add shrimp paste and salt and pound (or pulse) until 
well combined, about 1 minute. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container, up to a month.


Sous-vide Black-peppered Vension Loin with Celeriac Puree and Caramelized Figs

Chef/owner Simon Wright’s acclaimed French Café in Auckland has been winning most of the country’s major culinary awards since its opening a decade ago. I was introduced to his restaurant last year when I judged the IACP cookbook awards and the restaurant’s entry was one of the most beautiful cookbooks in my category. The restaurant’s interior and food lived up to the cookbook’s presentation. One enters through a thick frosted pivoting door into a crisp Zen white and chocolate brown interior. The restaurant is broken into a bar, outer front dining room and a courtyard room, all surrounding the massive centralized kitchen.


This signature recipe comprises a succulent sous-vide cooked venison loin, which is seared last minute and served atop celeriac puree and garnished with caramelized figs and simple sautéed Brussels sprout leaves.

Serves 4.


Four 5 oz venison loins

1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns

2 heavy-duty zip-lock-style freezer bags

1 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

4 Tbsp butter

1 large shallot, finely minced

3/4  cup red wine

1/2 cup beef or veal stock

2 Tbsp cold butter


Heat a large saucepan of water to barely simmering (there should be steam visible but no movement on the water surface); the water should be kept at about 150°F if using a thermometer.


Coat the loins well with the crushed black pepper and place two in each bag. Slowly seal bags, tightly squeezing out as much air as possible, and place in the slightly simmering water, cooking for 12 minutes. Remove the venison from the bath and carefully take out of the packets and dry carefully.


Heat a skillet with the olive oil over medium high heat; season the venison with salt and quickly sear the venison on all sides. Add the butter to the pan and when it starts to foam, baste the venison. Remove the venison from the pan and allow to rest, keeping warm.


Return skillet to heat and add shallots, sautéing and removing any brown bits. When they start to colour, add the wine and reduce until one third. Add the stock and reduce until half or slightly thickened. Whisk in cold butter and season. Strain and keep warm.


Alternatively you can sear the venison in a hot pan and cook for 6 minutes in an oven at 425°F, then baste with the butter and allow to rest.


To make the celeriac puree

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped celeriac

1 2/3 cups milk

1/4 cup whipping cream


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and add onion, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and slowly cook until soft without browning. Add celeriac and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the milk and cream. Bring to a boil, season and simmer until the celeriac is soft. Pour the celeriac mixture into a blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree. Set aside. To make a fine puree, pass the mixture through a fine chinoise or sieve.
To make the caramelized figs:
6 whole large figs
2 Tbsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the figs in half, place cut side up on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar; place in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to rest, keeping warm.


For the sprout leaves: remove the outside leaves of about 12 Brussels sprouts with a sharp knife and blanch in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. Refresh in iced water and drain. Sauté in a small skillet with a small amount of butter; season to taste.


To assemble, place a line of celeriac puree down the centre of a warm serving plate, slice the venison in three and place 2 pieces on one side of the puree and one piece on the other. Top each piece of venison with a caramelized fig, place a pile of sprout leaves at each end of the puree and drizzle a little of the red wine sauce around the plate.


Warm Chocolate Fondant with Butterscotch Sauce

The Marlborough wine region is renowned not only for its fine wines but its superb restaurants and cafés. This sublime dessert is from the restaurant at the Hotel D’Urville, a beautiful boutique hotel housed in a former Art Deco bank. Built in 1920, it has an intimate 40-seat restaurant under executive chef Maree Connolly.

Serves 4 to 6.


6 oz butter

6 oz dark 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour


Place chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and set over simmering water, stirring until melted. Stir well to mix.


In another bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in chocolate mixture and then add the flour. Do not overmix.


Butter 4 to 6 individual ramekins and pour in chocolate batter. These can be refrigerated at this point for up to a day.


To bake, place into a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes.


Remove from oven and allow to rest for 1 to 2 minutes then invert ramekins upside down onto dessert plates and garnish with butterscotch sauce.
Butterscotch Sauce
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
Small pinch salt
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup whipping cream
Bring to boil the golden syrup, brown sugar, salt and butter until it reaches “soft boil” stage.


Remove from heat and cool slightly then stir in vanilla and cream and mix well.

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