Honesty, quality and integrity

Ode executive chef Lucas Parkinson (left) and head chef Jack Foster. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Ode executive chef Lucas Parkinson (left) and head chef Jack Foster. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Wanaka chef Lucas Parkinson wants to share his passion for sourcing organic, ethical, local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients and creating good food. In this column, he shares a seasonal dish from his latest menu at Ode.

I’m back writing again, sharing the story of New Zealand food.

It’s something I love to do, yet it had to sit in the background for awhile when life became a bit of a roller-coaster with a fire, two major lockdowns and a brush with bankruptcy.

I stand here and watch our industry collapse around me wondering when things will get better. I pray for our industry, it ought to be protected and, in some ways, preserved. Over the past decade, we have come on in leaps and bounds as a culinary-minded country.

But when the facade fades, what are we left with?

Honesty, quality and integrity — food that encompasses these factors will stand the test of time and any economy.

Sure we might change our plating style, as artists do with their paintings or composers with their symphonies, keeping relevant and on-trend is important and fun, but we always return to the tried and true, taking what we had and adding what we have and fusing that together to create what’s next.

I’m guessing that you are reading this because you’re looking to cook something, but are bored with your usual recipes or want to try something new. Maybe deep down you always wanted to be a chef ... well then this is what you’ve been waiting for ... actual recipes from Ode restaurant.

Today, we start with a vegetarian favourite, using beautiful locally-sourced organic zucchini.

Organic zucchini, however, is expensive, so feel free to substitute it for what is available at your local store or what’s within your budget.

A good tip is to soak your supermarket fruit and vegetables in a 10% vinegar solution for 15 minutes and then rinse. This removes a lot of the residual pesticides.

Zucchini 3 ways

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
Serves 2

Costs $17 approx to make at home

4 medium-sized zucchini

100g goat’s cheese

3-4 Tbsp puffed quinoa

3-4 Tbsp heaped puffed quinoa

1 cured egg yolk (see note)

1 cup of bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 cup flour

white wine vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

potatoes for 2

garden salad and dressing for 2

Method

Heat oven to 200degC fan bake.

Get your potatoes on first. Toss in oil and salt place in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary five minutes before removing from the oven.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Set aside 4 halves for roasting.

Crumb 2 halves of zucchini (cut to size to fit in frying pot or pan) in flour then lightly beaten egg and then crumb. Repeat once more.

Shallow or deep fry in deep fryer or pot.

Whip the goat’s cheese with a whisk in a large bowl, add a little water and white pepper to loosen it, season with a pinch of salt (we use smoked Cranky Goat’s cheese from Nelson).

Use a mandolin (or a knife if your skills are A1) to thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise so they can be rolled. Dress them in a little olive oil and stack. Set aside.

Check your puffed quinoa is crunchy. We puff our own but store-bought puffed quinoa is great but sometimes needs to be refried in a little hot oil then drained on a paper towel to refresh its crunchiness.

Get a frying pan hot, pour in some cooking oil and place zucchini face down to colour the open white part of the vegetable. Once completely golden brown (2-3 minutes) flip them and reduce the heat to low — the zucchini will finish cooking in 4-5 minutes either in the pan on low or in the oven.

While the zucchini are cooking, shallow or deep fry your crumbed zucchini until golden brown over a medium heat (160degC).

Plating

Dollop the goat’s cheese on the bottom and smear around the plate — get creative — place fried zucchini then layer over with roast zucchini, spoon on the puffed quinoa and finely grate the cured yolk or parmesan over the fried zucchini. Then wrap the sliced zucchini around your finger and place artistically around the plate, season with sea salt and a few drops of vinegar.

Serve with a side of rosemary roast potatoes and a garden salad for an epic plant-based dinner.

Note: 

Making cured yolks is a lengthy process.

First you must separate the yolk from the white, keep the whites for crumbing or other purposes.

Then cure the yolks in sea salt for 12 hours — completely cover in salt — then wash off salt, next dehydrate the yolks at 55degC overnight (minimum 12 hours).

They come out like hard cheese wheels and can be finely grated.

They provide an amazing deep meaty flavour.

Alternatively you can use good parmesan on this dish.

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