Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup

I have a cold and it's rainy and miserable so here's my tried and true leek and potato soup recipe.

Leek and Potato Soup

2 leeks
5 large potatoes
1/2 head of cauliflower
50g of butter/margarine
1 clove of garlic
2 cups of vegetable stock
Sour Cream
Smoked Paprika to dust


  • Melt the butter in a large soup pan and leave on low heat. If serving to lactose intolerant guests be sure to use a dairy free margarine.

  • Cut the leeks into small rings, about 1/2 cm in height. Add to the pan with the garlic crushed and fry until the leeks are soft.

  • Peel and cube the potatoes into 1 cm cubes and add to the pot, stir fry with the leeks until the cubes are warm.

  • Cut up the cauliflower into inch cube pieces, be sure to include the stem as well as the florets and add to the pot.

  • Cover the vegetables in the stock and top up with water so that the califlower floats above the potatoes, turn to Medium - High heat.

  • Bring to the boil and then return to Medium heat, leave simmering until the potatoes and cauliflower are soft and lose structural integrity.

  • Take the soup pot off the heat and use a "stick" blender to puree the vegetables. The soup should be as thick as custard, if you have added too much water return the soup to simmering heat and boil off some of the liquid.

  • Serve the soup into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream to those who eat it and sprinkle heftily with smoked paprika. Best eaten with crusty white bread.

  • If you are not keen on cauliflower replace with another 2-3 potatoes, to bulk out the recipe add 1-2 onions and fry with the leeks.

  • To make this recipe vegan/non dairy replace the butter with soy based margarine and omit the sour cream for serving, the soup is strong enough on its own to stand without it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Recipe: Vegan Chilli

This recipe is a repost of one of our sharehouse favourites; it's full of vegies that the kids will eat and perfect for any vegetarian or vegan visitors. For the more standard eaters add some cheese and sour cream and you're set.

Vegan Chilli

1 large brown onion
2 cans kidney beans (or 1 large bowl of kidney beans soaked in water over night and then par boiled in salt)
1.5 cups sweet corn
1 large capsicum
1 large can of diced tinned tomatoes
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspon oregano
1/2 teaspon marjoram
Olive (or other vegetable) oil for frying


  • Dice the onions and fry in a small amount of salt with a fair quantity of oil - make a pool about the size of the palm of your hand in the pan. Add the chilli flakes to the onion, and garlic if desired.

  • Add the beans with a little of the juice, more of it adds a slightly thicker consistency to the chilli from the bean proteins. The secret to really good thick chilli is to take a potato masher at this point and mash about half of the beans once they are hot from frying. This allows you to 'refry' the insides and releases much more of the protein into the sauce

  • Dice the capsicum and fry with the beans and onion, once this is soft add all the spices and fry into the vegetable mixture, add more oil if required. Once the vegetables have fried with the spices for about 2 minutes then add the tomatoes with a cup or two of water. Remember if you're feeling lazy you can add a pack of taco or chilli con carne seasoning rather than individual spices; be sure to check for animal stock powders though and remember that these spice packs usually contain bean flour or corn starch and so may require a little more liquid or oil to counteract.

  • Once at boiling point add the sweet corn and turn the temperature down to reduce the sauce some what. If you have the time over the course of a day, adding more water and then reducing multiple times makes a softer thicker chilli as the beans and corn are softened.

  • You can serve this with just corn chips or rice cooked with chilli; however my favourite is to serve it in white flour tortillas with shredded lettuce, guacamole and tomato. Tortillas and plain salted Corn Chips should always be Vegan friendly but check for animal sourced preservatives on the packaging. Rosita's Mexican Meal Range are available at all Woolworth's and are not only Vegan friendly but damn good quality and Australian owned and made.

  • For those intent on animal products... This recipe works quite well with meat, just replace half the beans with some lean beef mince and reduce the amount of oil used. Service with sour cream and cheese for the dairy tolerant and thin of waist.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review: Restaurant Balzac, Randwick

I fell in love with Balzac's melt in the mouth beef and pudding at Taste of Sydney and simply had to try their full menu. Due to my hectic project schedule I had had to delay our anniversary dinner so we had an excellent excuse to visit. We decided upon a degustation to get a full appreciation of their menu. At $130 with matched wines and $85 without it's reasonably affordable as degustations go.

So... Restaurant Balzac as a whole what do I say? I had failed to notice until I went to the bathroom that the restaurant had won a number of hats from the Sydney Morning Heralnd Good Food Guide; which is probably why the staff looked at me so oddly when I said I had not heard of the restaurant at the festival. I'll put it down to me being a relative new comer to Sydney and save embarassment, though I'll admit that I find many of the 2 and 3 hat restaurants are just too wanky to be enjoyable and I tend to scour the menu for a dish that contains neither scallops or foams.

The venue itself is beautiful and I liked the added touch that the bathrooms gave a brief timeline of the history of the building including a very surprising entry in the mid 80s as a Pizza Hut. The wine cellar is quite reasonable, though not at the caliber of a much larger restaurant; the bar staff evidently work hard on their selections and maintan relationships with the wine makers and the existence of a cellar door dinner in their function room was definitely a good sign. The bar staff even let me listen in and try some of their alternative dessert wines which was lovely of them.

On the whole though there was as slightly off edge to the service. We were served by several people, incuding what seemed like rather random entrances from function and kitchen staff bringing dishes. Some of them were excellent, unfortunately the girl we had most of the night was quite off; her rounded service was entirely lacking and she seemed if anything to be a little arrogant about working there, without stopping to realise that we were the ones paying to eat at the restaurant. She forgot items, failed to see handsignals and her notes on the wine were emotionless and read from an internal autocue, if I were a betting woman I'd put money on this girl being a wannabe actress trying to rote learn lines from the sommelier, but if her Stoppard is anything like her service she's not going to make the movies.

I think our biggest issue with Balzac is that the boy and I have specific tastes and we're often privy to excellent food; we like warm real food, served by warm real people and Balzac missed something in this note. At other degustations we have had responsive service, wines changed, dishes explained with a passion linked to the food and that was missing here. I would hazard a guess that this was a real gem that has gotten lacklustre through fame and good reviews, and it's now a real cut above many restaurants but it was a step below the other "hat" restaurants we've attended and were surprised to see that it had retained its 2 hats last year based on our experience.

The boy would obviously have preferred another night at Atelier, but you can't have the same degustation every time, and I think his disappointment was born mostly out of being spoiled. I would definitely try Balzac if you like fine food and a good degustation however I for one am more interested in trying their other establishment The Burlington to see if it retains a little more "soul" with its casual dining claim.

On to the food...

Hors d'ouevres: Salt Cod Croquette with Champagne Foam

I had this with a glass of Pelorus NV Pinot/Chardonnay sparkling from New Zealand though it was not included with the meal $14. This was lovely and light and a wonderful accompaniment to my sparkling wine, it is only a shame that a sparkling is not included on the matched wine lists.

Amuse bouche: Parsnip Veloute, Lemon and Basil

Entree alternative: Puree of pea with pea foam, fresh garden vegetables and a breaded quail's egg

I had this rather odd moment with the waitress where she mentioned that we were able to change the menu at will and then seemingly objected when I asked for an alternative to the gravlax and gazpacho dish. Her tone sounded almost offended, she then offered to serve the dish without the fish and when I said that if this was the only alternative I would prefer they brought the original dish over she seemed put out. Eventually I feel someone in the kitchen must have said something to her about this being inappropriate because she came back later to say that they had offered to put this fresh light vegetable dish together instead and I'm glad they did as it was well suited to my palette and struck just the right note of fresh colour.

Unfortunately the Austrian Gruner Veltliner (1997 Nigl) that had been matched with the fish was far too strong for the vegetables but nonetheless I do like to try interesting varietals on occasion.

Entree: Gravlax of Hiramasa Kingfish, 'Gazpacho' and Creme Fraiche Sorbet

Fish Course: Panfried Mahi Mahi with Confit Fennel, White Beans, Olives and Tomatoes

I'm not sure you could have asked for a dish that was more suited to the boy, especially the freshly prepared semi dried tomatoes. The meaty flesh of the fish went well with the French pinot gris, though French pinot rarely suits my tastes.

Poultry course: Roast Duck Breast, Fig 'Tarte Fine' Madeira Jus

Then it was my turn to have a dish almost custom built to my palette. I wish somewhat that the menu was slightly more descriptive on how the "tarte fine" was built. It was some form of caramelised fig sitting on a butter or perhaps even lard strip of pastry. Both items had taken on the duck fat and sweet madeira concentrate of the jus and had me in eye rolling happiness. The wine was a slightly unimaginative but still very good 2006 Yarraloch Pinot Noir; negative points to the waitress for bringing this out as soon as it was poured as it really needed a few minutes of air and a little warmth before it reached its full potential, something she should have known (or the cellar keep warned her of) with such a young pinot.

Meat course: Wagyu beef, Braised Shin, Celeriac and Truffle Puree, Bordelaise

Based on the festival I was really looking forward to the full extent of this dish however I'm not sure they've failed to play to the strengths of the food here. Firstly the braised shin portion was significantly smaller than when it was served on its own but also I think they really did this wagyu a disservice by its plating. The meat had been sliced fairly thinly and I'm unsure if it was left to cool too long or simply sliced too fine but by the time the dish was served to us the fat had solidified and was almost gelatinous in texture, served with a glistening circle of its own marrow this may have delighted others but to me it was merely a little over done and perhaps only of interest to those who do not have ready access to kobe/wagyu of high marbling counts.

Before I dismiss the dish too far though I must say that the truffle puree, the bordelaise sauce and the aged shin were to die for and saved the plate for me. I played havoc with their tastings and chose the wine they had matched for the Pork to be served with the Beef (2007 Castillo Del Baron Monastrell, Yecla, Spain) however I do love Spanish wines and I have a soft spot for the northern monastrells (mourvedre to you).

Cheese course: Blue cheese with accompaniments - additional $14

I was really looking for a "down" note to the meal at this stage though I couldn't have stomached a whole cheese plate, so we ordered a single blue. This was a creamy cow's milk blue from Piemonte, Italy the name of which escapes me entirely. I ordered a Portugese port with this (not on the matched wines) which annoyingly the waitress forgot to tell me the label of and is missing from their online wine list. The table next to us did order the entire platter and I'm glad I didn't as it was ridiculous. I must note the use of this pear paste with the blue cheese as it was excellent together and I usually use quince paste.

Pre-dessert: Strawberry Eaton Mess

I really prefer a palette cleanser at this stage of the meal and it is lucky I have an incredibly sweet tooth because this sugary concoction was a real hit on the palette after the soft tastes of the meats and wines. The boy was unable to finish his and gave it to me, though this was more to do with the choice of strawberry than the sweetness. Knowing his distaste of strawberries I asked why he hadn't asked to have it changed when I altered my entree and like a boy he had been too distracted by the meat to even notice the sweets.

Dessert: Tatin of Caramelised Plug with Almond Ice Cream and Brandy Anglaise

The boy was in general disappointed with the sweets though this was definitely my kind of tastes; caramelised fruit with nuts and creamy sauce? Beats the hell out of chocolate any day of the week. This came with a 2007 Josef Chromy Botrytis Riesling dessert wine; I so rarely order either dessert wines or anything even hinting at a riesling though this was quite nice. To be honest though it needed to be in a smaller serving as it got a strange almost petrol like nose as it warmed.

Hot beverage course: Petit fours of Gateau Opera, coffee and the remains of my port

Thanks to my father and grandfather I believe that coffee at the end of a big meal should always come with a strong port or stiff cognac so saved the remainder of my glass from the cheese course for this part of the meal. The coffee was good, strong, well made and made properly to order. Unsurprisingly they had no soy milk however I'd come loaded with a handbag full of Lactaid so that I could enjoy the cheeses and sauces without worry. The gateau was a liquer soaked wonder that was so rich it didn't actually need the top layer of ganache. Thankfully the portion was only about the size of a lump of billiards chalk or it would have been troublesome.

Restaurant Balzac
141 Belmore Road
Randwick NSW 2031
Tel: + 61 2 9399 9660

Friday Lunch 12-3
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6:30

Bookings essential
Fully licensed with high quality wine cellar
Monthly themed degustations and daily degustation with menu updated weekly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recipe: Tuna Mornay

This is one of those meals that I just cannot make look as appealing as it tastes. But it's warm and filling, it's cheap and tasty and it really doesn't take that long to cook. Most importantly it's the kind of meal you can usually throw together from what's in your cupboard when it's the end of the pay cycle. It also freezes very well for next day/leftover day meals.

Props to the boy for this variation on the recipe as it kicked the hell out of mine.

Tuna Mornay

1 medium sized brown onion
1 stick celery
450g tin of tuna
1 cup milk
50g butter
2 tbspn plain flour
1 tbsp seeded mustard
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup shredded cheese

2 cups dried pasta
water for boiling
pinch of salt

Lemon juice or wedges to serve
Additional cheese to taste


  • Put the pasta on to boil with a pinch of salt.

  • Dice the onions, I find this meal is best with chunky style onion strips throughout the sauce for texture.

  • Fry in a very lightly oiled pan on medium heat until sweated. Owing to the white sauce component a non stick high walled saucepan is best.

  • Dice the celery thinly and add to the pot. Fry until the celery is transparent.

  • Turn the pan to low heat and add the butter, stirring until melted.

  • Add the flour and stir thoroughly, ensuring that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. The mixture will become quite solid and almost dough like.

  • In alternating small amounts add the milk and the stock, stirring slowly and carefully until all the liquid is in the mixture and it has a sauce like consistency.

  • Drain the tuna and add to the pot, stir well and then add the mustard.

  • Once thoroughly combined add the shredded cheese and let to simmer while the pasta boils. Ensure you stir regularly to avoid the sauce sticking.

  • Drain the pasta and serve into bowls with the sauce. The recipe serves around 4 people.

  • Top with shredded cheese and a lemon wedge or splash of lemon juice.

  • As I'm quite lactose intolerant I make a varation on this recipe by using the oil from the tinned tuna instead of butter and using soy milk in place of cow juice. The taste is almost identical and recommended for those trying to drop cholestorol or have problems with dairy. Guests generally fail to notice that I have used soy.

  • For a less tart variation omit the mustard and lemon juice and add a cup full of sweet corn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review: Ajisen Ramen, Chinatown

So I've been working non stop and I needed a quick bite after university so the boy decided to meet me after class and we wandered down to Chinatown. What better chance than to try a new ramen joint? Hell I've walked past Ajisen a thousand times it was time to walk in. It's a chain ramen restaurant but it's from kyushu and has 4 decades of success so I figure it's got to be pretty good to stay alive in Sydney where ramen joints abound.

From the outset it wasn't great. I order drinks, they don't have diet coke. Oh okay I think, they have Grape Calpis, no no, they're out of that too, in fact they're out of anything I drink, they're also out of the boy's juice.

We order, a kind of standard order for us. Tofu and gyoza, tan tan ramen for me and karaage ramen for the boy.

Tofu with bonito and spring onions $5.90

The sauce the tofu is in is almost non existent, the ginger that usually comes with such a dish is actually non existant and I dig sadly through multiple layers of bonito before discovering this and put soy on my tofu which is required to give it some flavour.

Gyoza $6.50

The gyoza don't actually arrive until after we receive the ramen and they were without anything except for the smallest amount of ponzu but really they were the best part of the meal so I don't really complain about them.

Karaage Curry Ramen $10.90

We were very intrigued by the curry addition to this ramen. Sadly the additions weren't great. The egg was a strange texture and the cabbage was quite wilted. The karaage was obviously prefrozen and contained a great deal of fat and gristle, enough that the boy didn't finish it and I didn't want to :o(

Tan Tan Ramen $11.90

The tan tan ramen was equally disappointing. The soup was separated on arrival and I think it was either powdered or made some time ago and stored. It wasn't particularly rich or hot enough for my tastes. The noodles were obviously dried and not made fresh. There was no egg in my soup and there wasn't really enough vegetables. The pork was quite nice though, but didn't dissolve into my soup in the way that I like.

We left quite disappointed and I didn't actually finish my meal which is extremely unusual in a ramen restaurant. I comment to the boy that the quality is about the same as the tan tan ramen I ordered at a Denny's in Tokyo for breakfast, and really that says it all... the quality is akin to what you get in an American chain restaurant in Japan... at breakfast time.

Ajisen is a fast food chain and really it shows. To be honest if I lived somewhere else it wouldn't have been that bad. Given the comparative quality and the sheer volume of ramen in Sydney and with Ramen-kan almost next door with much better quality food for much the same price I feel no need to return and I wonder that they don't lose a lot of business. I suspect that the main drawcard is that they're open late in the city.

Still they can't all be positive reviews right?

Ajisen Ramen
94 Hay Street
Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 8380

No booking required
Limited drinks menu, no alcohol

Taste of Sydney: Sweets and drinks

Balzac: Bread and Butter Pudding $8

Being a fan of comfort food and an incredible sweet tooth this dish was pure heaven; warm sweet and soft. The custard was caremalised and I suspect they've used a brioche or other similar sweet bread to complete. A simple classic done very well, the perfect wish for any true food lover, this is a real winter's delight. Would order again (and again).

Jonah's at Whale Beach: Vanilla panna cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate $8

I'm not sure this dish was the best idea for a warm outdoor festival. The dessert quickly took a slightly wobbly texture reminiscent of a nude beach on mother's day, eventually my "nipple tip" came off to the delight of those around me on the walk back to my seat. The texture and taste were well worth the giggles. Smooth rich panna cotta heavy with vanilla bean and wild honey. I don't think the pomegranate was needed - it really is the ingredient du jour in Sydney but it certainly didn't detract.

Centennial Parklands Dining: Goat Cheese Marshmallow with strawberries and basil $8

Goat's cheese is one of those items that is very much part of the adult palette. As a child I could never stomach it but as I've gotten older and wiser, and my Lactose intolerance has worsened my appreciation of goats cheese has grown. This soft sweet and very neutral dessert was well matched with the basil gratin and sweet berries.

And of course it wouldn't be my blog if we didn't pause and have a drink or 5....

Longrain: Ping Pong 42 Below Vodka cocktail $12

Freshly shaken 42 Below (pure glacial water New Zealand vodka highly recommended) with fresh passionfruit pulp, lychee and lime

Assiette: Strawberry Bellini with strawberry & cinnamon donut $8

Chandon NV Free with VIP ticket

Aaaah endless sparkling wine, and of a label I quite like, excellent.

For those who don't know the Chandon NV range is the work of the Domaine Chandon vineyards in California, USA and Victoria, AU using French vines imported from the Champagne regions but using the staff, techniques and climate of the newer warmer vinting lands. By using the traditional methods with a new world flair this has really made a shining example for what Australian sparkling can be. For my money I consider this better than Moet & Chandon, but that is potentially fuelled by years of Australian wines giving my palette a distinct bent. At ~$25 a bottle you should definitely give it a try because it's well worth seeing past the label and wondering where the "moet" went. It's a fairly standard Pinot/Chardonnay blend, aged on yeast for 15-18 months. Crisp finish with strong yeast, excellent with rich food.

Beechworth Sparkling Honey and Ginger soft drink 250ml $2.50

This fresh light and sweet all natural soft drink was a treat on a hot day, and even better later that night with a shot of vodka. I don't generally drink non diet drinks but this was too good to pass on. There was also a plain honey variety reminiscent of a sparkling mead and their website notes a honey and lemon version which I am very keen to try.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taste of Sydney: The savouries

The Taste festivals have been started in Sydney and Melbourne to show case local food suppliers and restaurants. had a spare VIP ticket and so off we went to foodie it up. The tickets came with $30 of Crowns, which they insisted on using as some form of gourmande Itchy and Scratchy Money. For the purpose of this blog though I will use dollars as the crown to dollar value was one to one.

To be honest I will definitely be coming back, it gave me a great chance to try some restaurants I haven't been to in Sydney yet as well as sampling some gourmet ingredients from the local area. The VIP tickets were of questionable value as the VIP marquee didn't have enough spaces to sit nor did it have air conditioning. If I had been less tired and more inclined to take advantage of the endless Chandon NV this would have made it worthwhile but I had slept for 2 hours after working an overnight shift and knew that too much alcohol would send me straight to sleep.

The prices on the dishes was a little high for the size but not necessarily unexpected given the quality of the restaurants involved. My largest complaint though has to be the timing. It was about 34C most of the day and the entire festival was outside with very little seating in the shade. The entire festival would have been vastly improved by being held 6 weeks later. I am told that the dinner session got rained out.

My highlight for the day (apart from the mouthgasmic beef) has to have been the hungry eyes of foodies everywhere unashamedly dashing up to you and squealing "where did you get *that*!?" while pointing gleefully at your plate. I love that shared obsession.

We ate a great deal on the day so here are the savoury dishes only to start with...

Plan B: Wagyu Beef Burger $12

I'd been hearing about this burger via the blogosphere for quite some time so I was really looking forward to it, it seemed so were the rest of the festival. The line was about 5 deep when I got to the stall and seemingly everyone was carrying one and eating while rolling their eyes in pleasure. For the sake of it I've been trying to remember a better burger that I've ever eaten but I can't even with a standard bun in place of the brioche loaf used at the restaurant. Plan B is the cafe that hangs off of Becasse restaurant in Clarence St in the city, and worth a trip for the burger which is on their standard menu at $10.

Danks Street Depot: Pastrami of Kingfish with Smoked Oysters and a Cucumber and Apple Salad $14

Danks Street Depot is a particular favourite of and a large supporter of the slow food movement.

Bird Cow Fish: Braised beef cheek and roasted onion & Jerusalem artichoke pie; red wine jus (sour cream and Careme Puff Pastry) $12

Assiette: Loin & crumbed belly of lamb with basil mayonnaise & a tomato olive jus $12

Berowra Waters Inn: Arancini Of Truffle Risotto & Buffalo Mozzarella, Spinach & Fennel Sauce $10

Balzac: Wagyu Beef Bourguignonne' with Truffled Cauliflower and Onion Rings $10

The rich beef and crisp pastry of this dish came with a truffled cauliflower foam and fried onion rings, the meat was so rich and tender it melted in the mouth. I literally could not stop thinking about this dish for days.

The entire Balzac menu is that particular form of rich European style food that reaches out and strokes my brain into paroxysms of pleasure. Enough that I went back for second servings, spoke to the staff for several minutes and then insisted the boy book us for dinner for our anniversary... so keep an eye out for the upcoming blog entry.

More to come with sweets tomorrow... in fact now that my project release is in expect a swathe of "catching up" entries of food over the last fortnight now that I have free time to blog once again

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recipe: Beef and red wine stew

It's starting to get cool in Sydney, and long stressful nights have meant plenty of comfort food.

Beef and red wine stew

2 cups stock
1 cup red wine
400g beef
100g bacon
2 large carrots
5 baby potatoes
1 medium sweet potato
1 large brown onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tspns smoked paprika
oil for frying


Use a large stock pot or pasta pot with a good tight lid. Use marbled or medium fat beef, lean beef will become too tough in the stew.
Heat the oil in the pot and dice the onions, then sweat the onions.
Cube the beef and add to the pot, stirring occasionally until the meat is browned. Then add the bacon and brown.

While the meat is browning peel and chop the vegetables; cut the baby potatoes into quarters with the skins still on, the other vegetables should be a centimetre or so thick or they will lose consistency.

Any vegetables can be used, Vegetables should be cooked in the order of 'firmness' to ensure all items are ready at the same time. In this case we add the carrots first. Cook the carrots until they are bright and slippery with the meat juices, then add the sweet potato. Stir fry until the edges of the sweet potato pieces are slightly translucent, then add the normal potato and do the same.

Add the diced garlic and paprika and stir to coat the meat and vegetables.

Add the stock, here I have used a mix of home made chicken stock and commercial beef stock. The recipe is best with darker stock if you have it.
Then add the red wine, the liquid should reach the top of the stew ingredients. If they do not add more stock or wine to taste.

Leave to simmer on low - medium heat for at least 40 minutes or until the meat is at the desired consistency.
Service with crusty bread, perfect on a rainy day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Recipe: Corn fritters

For all of those feeling a little worse for mardi gras, here's a little fried morning after treat.

Corn Fritters

1 cup sweet corn kernels
1 large red capsicum
1 medium brown onion
3 large eggs
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
1.5 cups self raising flour
Oil for frying

To Serve

Sour cream
Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce or Mexican Salsa


  • Dice the onion and capsicum into centimetre square pieces and place in a large mixing bowl

  • Add the corn kernels and mix the vegetables through until evenly distributed

  • Add 1 cup of flour and mix through until all the vegetables are well coated

  • In a small bowl whisk the eggs and add half the milk, mixing well

  • Add the egg and milk mixture to the vegetables stir through until a batter is formed, use the remaining milk and flour to meet the desired consistency; thicker batter will result in thicker fritters that require longer moderate heat for frying

  • In a fry pan heat a palm sized pool of oil and add a large serving spoon of batter, when the batter begins to bubble flip over.

  • Turn down the heat to a moderate temperature and fry evenly on each side, flipping regularly. The fritter is cooked when the middle springs back to the touch

  • After cooking transfer to paper towel to soak off any excess oil; repeat the cooking process until all batter is used

  • Serve 2-3 fritters warm with two spoons of sour cream and salsa or chilli sauce to taste

Review: Din Tai Fung, Sydney CBD

If you haven't discovered the sheer mouth heaven that is Din Tai Fung then I bid you go straight to dumplings, do not pass go, make sure to grab that $200, spend it all and clutch your stomach. Being honest it's a little bit trendy and the prices are quite high for the kind of food, but honestly I'm willing to pay for quality and the convenience of location.

Started from a small backstreet Taiwan family business Din Tai Fung has expanded into a delicious worldwide phenomena and now Australia has one tucked into the upper floor of World Square in downtown Sydney.

Din Tai Fung make high quality dumplings day round that are so good you'll squeal a little when you eat them. Fear not if you're one of these people that can't eat prawns and ergo goes starving at Yum Cha, there's a range of noodles, soups and meat based dishes that are almost as good as the heavenly dumplings.

Lychee Mint Frappe $3.90

This mocktail is so good that not only does the boy drool just talking about it but has even gone to the lengths of making me emulate the recipe at home. The mint is fresh and set off by the sweetness of the lychee, improved only I think by a shot of vodka that doesn't seem to be available.

Tofu and Pork floss with Century Egg (not pictured) $11.90

I might be a dedicated Egg (yellow on the inside, white on the outside) but I draw the line at eating century egg, and so I order this dish without. The tofu is fresh and sweet but not as good as some other restaurants in the area, I don't think they make it themselves or if they do they don't use high quality soya. The pork floss and soy though is so good that I gleefully swallow mouthfuls.

Won ton with 'tangy' sauce $8.80

The sauce that comes with this dish appears to be just the condiments on the table (vinegar, chilli oil, soy) however it is some magic ratio of each that I cannot determine and is so good that I drink the leftover sauce when the wontons are gone. The wontons themselves are slippery and light with fresh scallions and tasty pork filling. I could easily order another bowl if I didn't know we'd ordered other dishes.

Beef and spinach soup $8.90

This is the perfect dish for the unadventurous eater in any party; the soup is a rich beef broth which tastes like a thin gravy. In it are large lumps of tender broiled beef and fresh baby spinach leaves that are perfectly wilted and fresh in the mouth.

Pork and prawn shao mai $9.80

When you think that many Australians refer to the thick cheap "dim sims" sold in corner stores and supermarket freezers are these delicate items it makes you weep. These shao mai are of the Jiangnan style, the thick chewy dumpling skin houses a perfect tiny prawn, the pork and vegetable filling disintegrates and forms extra 'sauce' on the inside. These are the best shao mai I've eaten to date and if someone can find me better I may just marry them. I like to eat the prawn and then stuff the space with vinegar and ginger before eating.

What Din Tai Fung is famous for are their Xiao Long Bao (Soup dumplings) with paper thin skins that explode with delight into your mouth; here are instructions on how to eat them for the rare Westerners dotted around the room.

8 Xiao long bao $11.80

The xiao long bao here manage to have the thinnest skins I've ever seen and are each perfectly formed 18 fold dumplings. They appear fresh as a daisy and steaming hot, it is best to blow on them carefully after releasing the liquid filling. Excellent with vinegar and chilli the boy says of them that their only fault is that they are so good that they "somehow manage to make the shao mai seem boring." They've started selling them in a steamer of 8 which is good because 6 isn't enough but 12 is really too many.

Zhi ma bao $2.90

We are 'saving' ourselves for ice cream next door but we can't pass up at least one black sesame zhi ma bao, the soft white bread is fresh light and fluffy but it is the inescapable texture of the recently ground black sesame seeds that win us over every time, the pre-frozen variety do this dish no justice. For those who are unsure black sesame is somewhat like a rich nutty paste making this rather like a warm smokey peanut butter sandwich.

At $67 for two it's not the cheapest Asian restaurant but it's certainly the one that we make fond noises about and vow to come back to every time we drop by; and really we've ordered food we can't finish as we abandon the soup and the tofu in favour of dumplings. It's a bit trendy these days, and given that you can't book as with many Asian city restaurants my advice is that you get there before 7. You can order food while you wait in the line and the turnover in the restaurant is fast, you can come after the rush closer to 9pm but doing so will generally mean that things you want to eat are sold out. Being willing to share a table will definitely get you in the door faster and most groups are speaking in different languages (our table had Japanese, Malay and us honkies) so you don't feel like the conversation is being overhead/don't get distracted by the other diners.

The service is fairly prompt but somewhat impersonal, but it's a rare Chinese restaurant that I can say differently to. They greet you at the door and they whip away your empty plates, the food is hot and fast and the order is always correct. Besides the food is so good I could be served by automatons and still be happy.

Din Tai Fung Sydney
Shop 11. 04 Level 1
World Square Shopping Centre
644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9264 6010

Bookings not taken

Lunch: 11:00am-2.30pm
Dinner: 17:00pm-22:00pm (last order 9.15pm)