Chef and restaurateur Matt Wilkinson has a passion for simple dishes – perfect for alfresco summer dining…
Miso-Glazed Aubergine with Pickled Ginger and Spring Onion
In 2007 I had this most memorable meal in Tokyo. We were greeted at the door by the manager, who asked if we spoke Japanese. Obviously not, but his words were, ‘It’s okay, I speak English!’ He lied, but it turned out to be a fun-filled night of great food and lots of sake. I had a version of something like this dish, but grilled in a wood-fired oven and served with mashed foie gras.
Serves 2– 4 sharing
I N G R E D I E N T S
2 large eggplants (aubergines), cut in half, then flesh scored all over in a crisscross pattern
canola oil (non GM), for brushing
30ml (1 fl oz) mirin
2 tablespoons yellow miso paste
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon Japanese chilli flakes (these are a bit finer than regular chilli flakes, but you can use the regular ones instead)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, half of them lightly toasted for garnishing
20 ml (¾ fl oz) white sesame oil (see glossary; please try to get white sesame oil for this dish, or use a good-quality regular sesame oil)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 spring onions (scallions), white and green bits separated, then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon pickled ginger (from a jar), finely chopped
300 g (10½ oz) organic silken tofu, cut into 12 portions
ME T H O D
Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Place the eggplants on a large
baking tray, skin side down, and brush with some canola oil. Cover
the tray with foil and bake the eggplants for 40–60 minutes, or until
a skewer can be inserted through easily.
Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Being
careful not to break the skin, scoop out the eggplant flesh, into a bowl.
Place the eggplant shells on the baking tray, on their backs, ready to
hold the filling.
Break up the eggplant flesh by mixing through the mirin, miso paste,
sugar, chilli flakes, untoasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice wine
vinegar, white spring onion bits and pickled ginger. Gently fold in
the tofu. Spoon the mixture into the eggplant shells and bake for a
further 10 minutes, until all glazed.
Lay the filled eggplants on serving plates. Sprinkle with the toasted
sesame seeds and green spring onion bits. Serve warm.
Baked Snapper with Fish Sauce Dressing, Cucumber and Mint Salad
A simple baked fish dish – but if you wanted, you could serve it equally as well as a marinated raw dish. Remove the skin from the fish, slice it small enough, and there’s no need to actually cook the fish at all.
Serves 4 as a main course salad
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) snapper fillet, scaled and pin-boned (ask ya fishmonger to do this for you)
1 large grapefruit (any variety)
50 ml (1 ¾ fl oz) fish sauce
50 ml (1 ¾ fl oz) soy sauce
1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) grapeseed or canola oil (non GM)
3 spring onions (scallions)
10 Vietnamese mint leaves, washed and chopped
4 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley stalks and leaves, washed and chopped
1 bullet chilli, chopped (seeds and all!)
2 Lebanese (short) cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways, using a mandoline
1 handful coriander (cilantro), leaves picked and washed
1 small handful mint leaves, washed and torn
ME T H O D
Preheat the oven to 220oC (430oF). Cut the snapper fillet into eight
pieces. Arrange the snapper portions in a baking dish, so no pieces
are touching each other.
The grapefruit here is very important. First slice the top and bottom
off using a sharp knife, then carefully remove the skin and the white
pith, starting from the top and working down to the bottom, as if
you are following the lines of a soccer ball. Once this is all done, and
working over a bowl to catch all the juices, slice between each vein
to get a perfect segment. Each segment we are going to cut into five
portions and place in a dish for later; also reserve all the juice.
Pass the grapefruit juice through a sieve, into a bowl. Whisk in the
fish sauce, soy sauce and the sugar and grapeseed oil. Spoon half the
dressing over the fish, then pop the fish in the oven for 15–18 minutes,
or until cooked.
Chop the spring onions finely, placing the green parts into the
remaining dressing mixture, and the white bits in a separate bowl.
To the dressing add the Vietnamese mint, parsley, chilli and the
grapefruit segments; set aside.
To the bowl with the white spring onion bits, add the cucumber,
coriander and mint, then dress with a little dressing.
Arrange the salad around a large shallow serving bowl or platter. Place the snapper portions on top, drizzle with as much dressing as you desire, then serve straight away.
Peaches with Grated Macadamia & Squashed Blueberries
There is nothing more beautiful than a simple peach. Blanch and peel, you ask? You don’t have to, it’s up to you, but I think it’s worth it. The vinegar brings out the flavour in the whole dish, but especially the amazing blueberries I get from my friend Mal, from Moondarra Blueberries.
I N G R E D I E N T S
4 ripe yellow peaches
100 g (3 ½ oz) creme fraiche or mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (I use Heilala)
250 g (9 oz) fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cabernet vinegar, or a really good red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
3 macadamia nuts
ME T H O D
Place a pot of water on to boil.
Using a sharp knife, score the base of the peaches with a cross. Place
them into the boiling water and leave for 10–20 seconds, until the
skin starts to come away. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon
and immediately run under cold water. Peel off the skin and cut each
peach in half, carefully removing the stone. Place two peach halves in
each serving dish.
Mix together the creme fraiche and vanilla paste and spoon over
In another mixing bowl, crush the blueberries using your hands, then
mix in the vinegar and sugar. Divide among your serving dishes.
Using a microplane, grate the macadamia nuts over it all and enjoy.
These recipes are taken from: Mr Wilkinson‘s Simply Dressed Salads by Mr Wilkinson, Hardie Grant, £25