Sunday, 23 February 2014


We were thrilled to be invited by the PR and social media gurus at Mango to participate at on of Highpoint's fresh food event.

The event is part of an ongoing program at Highpoint Shopping Centre where three hero ingredients (a herb, a vegetable and a fruit) are selected each season for cooking demonstrations by Melbourne's best chefs.

Today's event had Adam D'Sylva, owner and executive chef of Coda and Tonka, creating two recipes using corn, basil and lemon.

Thanks to the lovely gals at Mango, we got a chance to chat one-on-one to Adam before the cooking demonstration.

It was very interesting to hear about Adam's multicultural background growing up in Melbourne with an Italian mother and Indian father.  

His heritage influences his style of cooking and is reflected in his two restaurant menus. For Adam, Modern Australian food is all about multiculturalism and Asian influences. We have great access to fresh Asian produce, which allows Adam to play with different flavours on the menus of Tonka and Coda and to innovate the Indian and French Vietnamese cuisines they respectively serve.

On the question of sourcing fresh produce for his restaurants and for home, Adam said he tries to source special products like wasabi directly from the producer. For herbs and vegetables where commercial quantities are required, he goes throughn wholesale distributors.

When shopping for home, Adam sticks to his local fresh fruit & veg supplier saying it's easy and simple to shop closer to home. 

As a father of two, Adam likes cooking simple dishes at home like pasta or baked meat and veges, which are quick to prepare and nutritious for his young family. 

At the cooking demonstration, Adam dished out Black Pepper Crab and Warm Vietnamese salad of prawn, chicken and beans. The fragrance of fresh chilli, lots of herbs and lemon zest reached us across the room while Adam was cooking.

Here are the recipes for the two fantastic dishes that don't seem all too hard for trying at home: 

Warm Vietnamese salad of prawn, chicken and beans

Warm Vietnamese salad of prawn, chicken and beans

200g French beans
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken breast
1 cup cooked and sliced prawns
1 tbs fried shallots
1 tbs ground roasted peanuts
2 tbs dry roasted flaked coconut
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
2 tbs coconut cream
1 tbs palm sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
4 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs roasted chilli powder
5 springs of coriander leaves
5 springs of mint leaves
5 springs of thai basil

Blanch the French beans in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and keep warm. In a bowl, combine the palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut cream and roasted chilli paste, stirring until everything is well blended.
Stir in the sliced chillies and ground peanuts. Add the warmed shredded chicken and prawns and finally, stir in the bean slices, coriander and mint leaves. Garnish with the fried shallots and coconut.

Black pepper crab

Black pepper crab

2 whole fresh blue swimmer crabs
2 tbs vegetable oil
200g butter
1 tbs caster sugar
4 tbs freshly crushed black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 knob ginger, julienned
2 red banana chillies, julienned
5 springs thai basil
100ml chicken stock
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbs Healthy Boy soy sauce
coriander and lemon to garnish

Have all ingredients prepared and ready to go as it is a fast process that requires attention.
To clean crab:turn crab upside down, open the tail and place your thumb between the body and head, pull apart to separate the two. Remove gills and clean the cavity of the body, rinse under running water to remove any excess guts. Clean one crab shell and reserve for presentation.
First cut crab in half, down the middle then again evenly between the legs. Using the top of your chef's knife, crack the claws. This allows the sauce to penetrate the flesh.
Steam or poach crab for 4 min.
Heat wok, add oil then black pepper, garlic ginger and chilli. Fry for 30sec until fragrant then add chicken stock, then oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar.
Check for correct balance of sweet and salty. Add butter, stirring vigorously to emulsify the butter and liquid, until it coats the back of the spoon.
Then add crab and toss until it is nicely coated with the sauce. Arrange neatly in a bowl, garnish with coriander leaves, thai basil and lemon cheek. Place crab shell on top and serve with steamed jasmine rice. 


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