Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
As much as I love to cook, it's not something I want to do when it's steaming hot outside. Here are a few dishes that won't heat up the kitchen.
Steak tartare with oysters (pictured)
I first ate a version of this dish at On Lot 10 on Gough Street, Central. It sounds like an unlikely combination but the sweet brininess of the oysters is delicious with the raw beef. Use fresh oysters that are still in the shells, not the shucked ones from jars. The oysters should be small to medium-sized.
550 grams boneless beef tenderloin
25 grams shallots, minced
15 grams grainy mustard
10 grams anchovy paste
15 grams capers, drained and roughly chopped
5 grams chives, minced, plus more for the garnish
15ml fresh lemon juice
A few drops each of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-6 (depending on size) fresh oysters
4 quail eggs
Put the beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Hand-mince the meat - use a very sharp knife to cut the meat across the grain into thin slices then cut the slices into strips. Working with a few strips at a time, cut them crosswise into a fine mince. Put the meat into a bowl and add the shallot, mustard, anchovy paste, capers, chives, lemon juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. Combine thoroughly then taste the mixture, adjusting the seasonings as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the mixture while preparing the oysters.
Shuck the oysters, drain off the excess liquid and check carefully to make sure there are no shell frag-ments in the oyster meat. Cut the oysters into 1cm pieces then gently fold them into the steak tartare. Shape the mixture into four patties and make an indentation in each one. Crack the quail eggs, discard the white and place the yolk into each indentation, then sprinkle with the chives. Mix everything together before eating.
Tuna tartare with sea urchin and quail eggs
400 grams sushi-grade tuna fillet, chilled
8 tongues of fresh sea urchin
4 quail eggs
2 spring onions, white and pale-green part only
6 shiso leaves, divided
? tsp finely grated fresh ginger
20-30ml light soy sauce
1 tsp pure sesame oil
Wasabi paste, to taste
Fine sea salt
Use a very sharp knife to remove any membrane from the tuna, then hand-mince the fish so it's roughly textured - don't mince it so finely that it becomes a paste. Mix the soy sauce with the sesame oil then stir in wasabi paste to taste. Thoroughly combine this mixture with the tuna. Mince the spring onions and finely julienne two of the shiso leaves. Mix the spring onion, julienned shiso and grated ginger into the tuna then taste for seasonings; add a little salt, if needed. Shape the tuna mixture into four patties and make a small indentation in each one. Crack the quail eggs and discard the white, then place the yolk in the indentation. Lay two pieces of sea urchin over each portion then garnish with a shiso leaf before serving.
This recipe is from the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. The flavours can be varied by adding crushed juniper berries, fresh thyme sprigs and crumbled dried bay leaf to the salt before burying the duck breasts in it.
2 duck breasts, about 450 grams each
Ground white pepper
Rinse the duck breasts with cold water then dry them with paper towels. Pour salt in an even layer to a depth of 1cm in a non-reactive container (I use a "lock & fresh" plastic box) that is large enough to hold the breasts in one layer without them touching the sides. Put the duck on the salt then cover them completely with more salt, packing it around the meat. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove the breasts from the salt then rinse them thoroughly before drying with paper towels. Sprinkle white pepper lightly but evenly over both sides of the breasts. Wrap them separately in food-grade cheesecloth and put them on a wire rack (so the air can circulate). Refrigerate for about a week, turning them over twice a day. The prosciutto is ready when it feels firm when you squeeze it. Remove the cheesecloth then wrap each breast in cling-film before refrigerating. When you're ready to eat it, slice the prosciutto very thinly across the grain and serve with cornichons and/or pickled onions.
For this dish, you can use fresh scallops (with the meat about 3cm in diameter, and without the roe), peeled shrimp (don't use freshwater shrimp) and chunks of white-fleshed fish (again, don't use the freshwater variety). You can mix the seafoods, but marinate each type in separate containers, in case they take different times to "cook". The seafood isn't cooked through heat so avoid buying it from wet market vendors, because they store their wares in Hong Kong's unsavoury seawater.
500 grams of seafood of your choice
About 200ml fresh lime juice
Red bird's-eye chillies, minced, to taste
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
20ml bottled fish sauce
Fine sea salt
1 ripe avocado
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 spring onions, cut into thin rounds
Fresh coriander leaves
If using scallops, cut them in half horizontally. For shrimp, peel them. Cut the fish into 2cm pieces. Mix the seafood with the lime juice, chilli, shallot and garlic. Cover with cling-film and refrigerate for four to six hours, stirring occasionally. When it's ready, the seafood will look cooked - it will feel firm and will be white, rather than opaque. Drain off and discard the lime juice. Mix the seafood with the fish sauce and add a little salt, if needed. Cut the avocado into chunks and mix it with the seafood, tomato, spring onion and coriander leaves before serving.