Chef Damien Jones of Ly­di­ard in Bal­larat

Luxe Beat Magazine - - Contents - By Mar­a­lyn Hill Epi­cure

While vis­it­ing Bal­larat, I had din­ner at the Ly­di­ard Wine Bar, win­ner of a num­ber of Golden Plate Awards, with Head Chef Damien Jones in the kitchen. Af­ter din­ner, there was time for a brief in­ter­view, dur­ing which he shared one of his fa­vorite recipes, salad of pomelo and prawns with lemon­grass.

I’m also in­clud­ing pho­tos of dishes I en­joyed at Ly­di­ard dur­ing my visit. One of the in­cred­i­ble dishes we en­joyed at Ly­di­ard

Mar­a­lyn: How did you get started? Damien:

I al­ways knew I wanted to be a Chef and I con­sider my­self lucky that I when I ap­plied for my first job (at only 15 years old!) that I got it. Twenty-two years later, I still love cook­ing, so I thank the in­dus­try for be­ing so vi­brant and ex­cit­ing – I am con­tin­u­ing to learn and grow all the time. I have lots of mem­o­ries about be­ing in­ter­ested in food from a young age, with my fa­ther and grand­mother in par­tic­u­lar, so a chef ap­pren­tice was a log­i­cal step.

MDH: What is your fa­vorite type of cui­sine? DJ: I ac­tu­ally have two fa­vorites! Thai and French, both of which I have trained ex­ten­sively in. Thai food is fan­tas­tic be­cause the sea­son­ings and in­gre­di­ents are trop­i­cal and vi­brant – it’s a cui­sine like no other. French is nat­u­rally fa­mil­iar to me! I enjoy the com­fort­ing na­ture and lux­ury of clas­sic French food. Com­ing from cool cli­mate Bal­larat its hard beat beau­ti­ful French braise in the win­ter!

MDH: Do you have a fa­vorite cook­ing uten­sil? DJ:

I do! A mor­tar and pes­tle – it is used by all cuisines and the task of pound­ing in a mor­tar and pes­tle is thor­oughly en­joy­able to me. It creates a flavour and aroma that is so much bet­ter than pro­cess­ing in

a food pro­ces­sor. My gran­ite mor­tar and pes­tle that I got in Thai­land many years ago is a won­der­ful com­pan­ion in the kitchen.

MDH: Where do you go to eat when you eat out? DJ: I like to eat out to be in­spired. I don’t of­ten get a chance, fun­nily enough, as I’m gen­er­ally in the kitchen or home with my young fam­ily. When I can eat out, I choose to go to Mel­bourne and I tend to eat in mod­ern, pro­fes­sional restau­rants where the chefs are cook­ing with in­tent and pas­sion and push­ing food bound­aries. It’s not so much a cui­sine that I would be seek­ing out, but the restau­rant it­self, as I am in­ter­ested in what they are try­ing to achieve in the kitchen with food and wine. I’m ac­tu­ally fly­ing to Bangkok to have din­ner at David Thomp­son’s new restau­rant, Nahm in April. I’m so ex­cited!

MDH: Do you have a fa­vorite spice? DJ: I can’t choose! Definitely vanilla and chili, but I also can’t go past fresh bay leaves.

It’s hard to imag­ine desserts with­out vanilla as it has a beau­ti­ful per­fume and adds a depth of flavour to so many dishes.

Chili gives heat and al­though all of the Thai sea­son­ings are great, chili is the plat­form to work off. You can add salty, sour or sweet and with chili as a base you can fla­vor a dish in a way that best suits the in­gre­di­ents you are work­ing with.

Bay leaves, again, can be used in so many ways. Fresh bay leaf is a won­der­ful, base spice to add to dishes, both savoury and sweet. Now on to Damien’s recipe: (serves 4) This is a sim­ple and de­li­cious recipe that can be as­sem­bled in around 15 min­utes. Best ac­com­pa­nied by a cold beer or a Ries­ling! It’s a beau­ti­ful light lunch when served with steamed jas­mine rice.

You will need to gather the in­gre­di­ents first with a visit to the green gro­cer. Pomelo is an Asian cit­rus fruit that is sim­i­lar to grape­fruit, but not as bit­ter. It can be found at Asian mar­kets, green­gro­cers and oc­ca­sion­ally, su­per­mar­kets. If you can­not find pomelo, a good sub­sti­tute is pink grape­fruit as it is sweeter than nor­mal grape­fruit but still has the sour­ness re­quired for this de­li­cious salad.

Half a pomelo peeled and seg­mented (you will only need about half, so save the other half for break­fast the next day... or an­other round of the salad as you will love it so much!) Ap­prox 1 dozen fresh prawns,

cooked 2 shal­lots (peeled and finely

sliced) One stick of lemon­grass, re­move the first 2 cm of the bot­tom/bulb end and peel of the first two lay­ers to revel the softer, younger heart of the lemon­grass Ap­prox 5 lime leaves, finely sliced Small hand­ful of mint, washed Hand­ful of fresh co­rian­der, pick and wash the leaves (you will use the roots in the dress­ing be­low)

Chop, slice and pre­pare the in­gre­di­ents as above and you are ready to go! Put all of the in­gre­di­ents into a large bowl and quickly toss and taste be­fore you add the dress­ing. Use your own tastes and pref­er­ences to de­cide if there is too much of one in­gre­di­ent or not enough of an­other. If it tastes like there is too much mint, then maybe there is. You can make this salad your own by tai­lor­ing it to your tastes.

Red Chili Dress­ing (Green nahm yum)

2 co­rian­der roots, cleaned,

washed and chopped 2 fresh gar­lic cloves pinch Sea salt 2 large fresh red chilies (de-seeded

and chopped a lit­tle) 3 large limes, juiced (must be

fresh, with no bit­ter­ness) 2 heaped ta­ble­spoons white sugar 2 ta­ble­spoons Fish sauce (Squid

brand is best)

Add co­rian­der, gar­lic, salt and chilies into a mor­tar and pes­tle and pound to a fine paste. (If you do not have a mor­tar and pes­tle, then use a blen­der – put all the in­gre­di­ents in at the same time and give it a quick whiz – and add a mor­tar and pes­tle to your Santa list!).

Add lime juice, then the sugar and fish sauce last. Be­fore dress­ing the whole salad, try some with a lit­tle of the dress­ing. The com­bi­na­tion should taste sweet first, then a lit­tle sour, hot and salty. If it’s a bit sour for your lik­ing, add some more sugar to the dress­ing. If it’s too sweet, add more lime juice. Do not be afraid to use what looks like a large amount of sugar – it is im­por­tant to bal­ance the flavours. When you are happy with the over­all taste, splash the dress­ing with aban­don over the salad. Pour an­other cold drink and enjoy!

To try some of Damien’s creations: Ly­di­ard Wine Bar 15 Ly­di­ard Street North, Bal­larat, Vic­to­ria 3350, Aus­tralia Phone: 035327 2787

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.