A taste of Melbourne


Chicken HeroChin ChinChicken Close Up

As an expat Aussie I love collecting souvenirs whenever I go home, but not the typical boomerangs and kangaroo scrotum money bags that the non-Australian tourists take away with them. I make a B-line for cook books from my favourite restaurants so I can taste the flavours of home when ever I miss them.

This time around I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of “Chin Chin. The Book.” It’s really hard to come by, you can only get it from their website, in person at the restaurant or from The Essential Ingredient in Prahran. International orders have to be specially requested via telephone which seems a bit too hard to me. So, to help all of you taste what it’s like to dine at the iconic Melbourne restaurant I’m going to publish the first meal I’ve cooked out of it. And, in keeping with my routine of doing some form of exercise every day, I went for a 45 minute jog before indulging. Not that I needed to work up an appetite, it tasted great.

Larb Gai
(Better known as Chicken Salad.)
10 white peppercorns
½ bunch coriander, roots washed, leaves picked
3-4 cloves garlic
2 scud chillies, plus extra chopped scuds to serve, optional
150g chicken or duck livers, optional (I left this out as offal is quite high in fat.)
2 tbsp rendered pork fat or vegetable oil (I just used a spray of Canola to keep the fat down.)
500g medium to coarse chicken mince. (They recommend having a high fat content but I went the opposite way and it still tasted great.)
juice of 2 limes
3-4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp ground roast rice (Recipe to follow.)
1 stem lemongrass, pale part only, thinly sliced
½ tsp galangal powder (Recipe to follow. I used ground ginger as I couldn’t be bothered but, it’s there if you can be.)
2-3 shallots, thickly cut
2-3 apple eggplants, thickly cut, optional (As apple eggplants aren’t available in NZ, I used a regular eggplant and grilled it first.)
½ bunch mint, leaves picked
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, julienned

In a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns. Add the coriander root, garlic, scuds and a pinch of salt and pound together to a rough paste.

If you’re using the livers, trim them, put in a saucepan of cold salted water and bring to the boil to blanch quickly.

Heat the pork fat or oil in a hot wok, add the paste and fry until fragrant. Add the chicken mince and continue to cook. When the mince is almost done (about 2-3 minutes), add the liver, if using, and stir to combine.

Remove the wok from the heat, and put the cooked mince in a bowl. Season with lime juice, fish sauce and oyster sauce.

Add the ground roast rice, lemongrass and galangal powder and stir to combine thoroughly. Now add the shallots, apple eggplant, mint, coriander and lime leaves and toss to combine.

Transfer to a serving plate or bowl and garnish with the extra chopped scuds, if desired.

Serves 4

Ground Roast Rice
In pan, dry fry a cup of white glutinous rice with a couple of chopped kaffir lime leaves and some sliced lemongrass and shaved galangal. Keep stirring it the whole time so it doesn’t blacken on the bottom of the pan. When it starts to get a bit of colour and is nutty and fragrant, it’s done. Remove from heat and blitz to a powder in a food processor. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. This is a great addition to salad, stir-fries and dressings.

Galangal Powder
Roughly chop a whole galangal root (or two) and blitz in a food processor. Thinly spread the paste on a baking paper-lined baking tray. In a low 70°C oven, completely dry the galangal (about 5-6 hours). When it’s cool, blitz again. Store in an airtight jar.




Marinated Chicken Breast with Spicy Tomato Sauce. I adapted this from a Neil Perry recipe for barbequed wings as they had none at the supermarket and rain put a stop to my BBQ plans. Instead I marinated the breasts, seared them and put them in the oven. Still pretty tasty. As usual, I left out all the oil and only used a spray in the pan first. Click the pic for Neil’s recipe.




In my endeavour to eat more Cruciferous vegetables I found I had a lot of left over cabbage in the fridge. I thought a brown rice stir-fry would do the trick and it was quite tasty.

Next time, I might add some of the spring onions and ginger to the eggs before cooking along with some sea salt or tamari just to give the omelette a bit more oomph. I saw Kylie Kwong do that in a cooking show once and it seemed like a nice idea. Here’s the recipe for what I ate today if you’d like to try it.

Fried Brown Rice with Chicken and Cabbage
Serves 4-6

Canola oil spray
4 free range eggs, lightly beaten, using only 2 of the yolks
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp finely diced ginger
250 g mixed variety mushrooms, sliced
550 g chicken thigh fillets, finely sliced
2 pinches raw sugar
2 tbsp shao hsing wine
4 cups steamed brown rice
1/2 cabbage finely shredded
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh bean sprouts + extra for garnish
4 spring onions, finely sliced + 2 extra for garnish
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
coriander leaves
roasted salt and Sichuan peppercorns (Place 3 tbsp salt flakes +1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns in fry pan. Roast until fragrant and grind to a powder. This is way more than you’ll need for this recipe, keep the rest in the cupboard for later.)
lemon juice

Lightly spray a wok with Canola oil and when it’s hot, pour in beaten eggs and leave for 10 seconds then gently run a spatula through the middle and fold the egg mixture over itself until it is barely cooked. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Turn burner off and lightly spray the wok again with Canola oil, making sure there are no small bits of egg left to burn. Stir-fry the onion, mushrooms and ginger for 1 minute. Then, add the chicken and keep stir-frying for another minute or until it’s no longer pink. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir through, then add the wine and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients including the egg, except for the extra spring onions, extra bean sprouts, coriander leaves, Sichuan pepper and salt and lemon juice. Stir-fry, breaking up the egg into smaller pieces until well combined and heated through.

Transfer to a bowl and garnish with the extra spring onions, bean sprouts and coriander leaves. Sprinkle with roasted Sichuan pepper and salt to taste. Squeeze over some lemon juice.