The Making of a Signature Dish
Ever wondered exactly what goes into making your favourite restaurant meal? In Sydney’s historic Tramsheds precinct, four chefs serve up the ingredients and influences that shape their signature menu items.
FISH & CO.
Signature dish: Grilled teriyaki salmon bowl, $29.
Deciding factor: The chef’s house-made teriyaki sauce helps retain the salmon’s melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Source code: The sockeye salmon is sourced from a place where the waters are still pristine and rich with the bounty of five species of natural wild salmon – Alaska. According to Fish & Co, the unique taste and health benefits of wild salmon are far superior to farmed salmon.
Tasting notes: Salmon is served over a bed of sushi rice with spinach, edamame, bok choy, mushrooms, a few strips of nori and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Best enjoyed: With a glass of Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand.
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Signature dish: The pappardelle ($33) – it features in every one of A Tavola’s four outposts across Sydney, and really put the original Darlinghurst restaurant on the map 11 years ago.
Deciding factor: It’s a throwback to childhood. Not only did chef Eugenio Maiale grow up in a household obsessed with food, but his restaurant training consisted of being taught by a kitchen of nonnas. “It was a daily ritual, almost a meditation, for my mamma to make her own pasta,” he says. “Being able to deliver an authentic product consistently is what it’s all about for me.”
Source code: Flour Eggs Water uses Caputo 00 flour from Naples. Only the heart of the wheat is extracted to create this flour, one that results in a light and consistent pasta dough. Local eggs and semolina also contribute to the dish’s success, as does the restaurant’s nose-to-tail, whole-animal philosophy.
Tasting notes: They say you eat with your eyes – watch the pasta experts mixing, kneading and rolling the dough until it’s cut into fat, silky ribbons of pappardelle. It really is theatre.
Best enjoyed: With friends, family and a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy.
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Signature dish: The rolled porchetta ($24) – succulent juicy pork with perfect crackling.
Deciding factor: “We’ve grown up with pork roast being a family favourite and never would a Sunday go by without the kids, and adults too, squabbling over the crackling!” says one half of ex-My Kitchen Rules chef duo Will (Stewart) and Steve (Flood). “We serve it with raw apple, fennel and parsley salad, and a drizzle of apple caramel.”
Source code: Where they can, the chefs look for ingredients local to NSW. “But if the pineapples are best in Queensland, that’s where we’ll get them from,” says Flood. The key is that the produce is fresh, cared for and sustainable.
Tasting notes: Butcher Blake rolls and ties the belly perfectly to protect the meat and lock in the flavour and juices. The five-kilo bellies are then cooked, low and slow, for four hours. Only at the last minute before service is the porchetta fired on a blistering heat to achieve the perfect crackling.
Best enjoyed: With blackened broccolini or roasted sweet potato with truffle pecorino.
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Signature dish: Egyptian Koshari ($15).
Deciding factor: This is true Middle Eastern comfort food – rice, lentils, macaroni and chickpeas in a slightly spicy tomato sauce – and a source of absolute delight for all vegetarians.
Source code: The name “koshari” is thought to be from the Hindu “khichri”, a dish of rice and lentils. “When the British arrived in Egypt in the late 1800s they brought this dish with them – it was inexpensive and filling. The Egyptian Italian community adopted the dish and added their own spin – pasta!” says co-owner Tiago Conceicao. Koshari is true fusion cuisine; few dishes can represent so many cultures on one plate.
Tasting notes: Cooking koshari takes time – all those different elements need to be brought to perfection separately, before being combined to create this unique dish.
Best enjoyed: Shared with friends and family.
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