Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Simple Summer Seafood

In Summer, I really lean towards dishes that are light, healthy and full of the gorgeous Summer produce - but also ones that don't keep you trapped in a hot kitchen too long. If a dish can be cooked outside on the BBQ, then all the better! Today's dish ticks all those boxes. I put this together after seeing some beautiful Blue Eye Cod at the fishmonger, and wanting to do something lighter and healthier than fried fish and chips.

Blue Eye Cod (also called Blue Eye Trevally) is one of my favorite fish to eat. The firm white flesh has a lovely mild flavour and a beautiful meaty texture that means it won't be likely to fall apart when you are cooking it. Although it can handle marinades and more robust sauces, I like to cook it very simply, so that the fish is not overwhelmed and you don't miss out on that delicious taste.

In today's dish, I teamed some simply cooked Blue Eye Cod with a selection of seasonal grilled vegetables and a light and fresh lemon and caper dressing. The result is a delicious, healthy and good looking dish that you could happily serve at a dinner party or as a delicious mid week dinner. Because it requires very little preparation, it is a perfect choice if you are in a hurry or want something to serve that won't keep you from your guests too long.

You could easily adapt this dish for vegans or vegetarians - leave out the fish, do extra veges (maybe some grilled tofu?) and serve with the lovely lemon and caper dressing. For those who don't like seafood, some free range chicken thighs, seasoned and grilled would work well too.

Grilled Blue Eye Cod
with grilled vegetables and lemon caper dressing

You will need:
1 or 2 pieces fish per person, olive oil for grilling, 2 medium zucchini, 1 medium eggplant, 1 bunch asparagus, about 300g peeled pumpkin, salt.

For the sauce: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, Juice of 1 lemon, tablespoon chopped continental parsley, 2 teaspoons very finely minced or chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon baby capers, salt and pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

First, make the sauce by whisking together all of the sauce ingredients well, until they emulsify and thicken slightly.

Slice the zucchini, pumpkin and eggplant into thin 1cm slices. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus. Check the fish for bones - if there are any, pin bone the pieces by using tweezers to carefully remove each one.

Heat a grill pan or BBQ until very hot and cook the vegetables until tender, brushing with a small amount of olive oil and seasoning with a little salt. Once all the veges are cooked, put them aside.

Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook the fish for 2-4 minutes each side, or until cooked (timing on this will depend on the thickness of your fish fillets)

Assemble the vegetables on your serving plate/plates. Add the fish to the top of the vegetables and drizzle with the caper dressing. Serve right away.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters

Ok, tonight it's something fast, simple and vegetarian with a Greek flavour. These haloumi and zucchini fritters make a lovely light lunch or a nice side dish for grilled or BBQ'd meat or seafood. I served mine with some simply marinated lamb cutlets, drizzled with olive oil, lemon and plenty of pepper. There were plenty left over for a fresh tasting lunch the next day. I was thinking that these would also be really nice finger foods - just make them bite sized instead of the meal sized ones pictured here.

I love salty flavours and gorgeous Cypriot haloumi cheese really gives you that - so much so that you should be really careful not to add any extra salt to your mixture, or the dish will be overwhelmed. The fritters will be salty already because of the very strong haloumi and have a lovely aroma and taste, from the spring onion, garlic, fresh parsley and mint added to the batter.

You can whip a batch of these in no time, so what are you waiting for?

Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters
with Garlic Yoghurt

You will need: 
For the fritters: 2 medium zucchini, 250g (1 small packet) Haloumi cheese, 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint, 2 tablespoons chopped continental parsley, 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion, 2 eggs, 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour, 1 clove minced or very finely chopped garlic, 2 pinches cayenne pepper, olive oil for frying.

For the sauce: 1 cup continental style thick plain yoghurt, 2 teaspoons finely minced or pureed garlic, pinch of salt, pepper to taste.

First, make the sauce - simply combine all the sauce ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grate the zucchini, place in a bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Grate the haloumi.

Combine the haloumi, zucchini, mint, parsley, spring onion,eggs, flour, garlic and cayenne and mix well. Heat a non stick fry pan with a little olive oil and cook the mixture a tablespoon at a time for about 5 minutes each side. Use a spoon to gently shape the patties. The mixture will be quite soft - this is normal, and the fritters will firm up a little as they cook and then again as they cool.

Drain on paper towels. Serve warm or cold with the garlic yoghurt. Makes about a dozen medium sized fritters.


Friday, January 18, 2013

The GG Test Kitchen: Adriano Zumbo Macaron Kit

 Hi folks - I thought I would share with you a bit of a test kitchen experiment that I did this week with something that caught my eye at the supermarket recently. Normally I'm not a fan of packaged mixes, preferring to make things completely from scratch - but when I saw this Adriano Zumbo macaron kit when out shopping the other day I was really curious to see if they actually worked. Living where we do in the Inner West of Sydney, we are pretty close to Zumbo's flagship Balmain patisserie and sometimes pop over to indulge in something from his sweet treat wonderland. One of our favourites is the delectable salted caramel macaron. The Zumbo macaron kit in the salted caramel variety was the obvious choice for my experiment. The kit comes in a passionfruit variety too if you want something fruity and less rich.

The kit sells for $8.50rrp and contains pretty much all you need to make about 15-20 macarons. For a price comparison, a single macaron from Zumbo's patisserie costs $2.50. Apart from the kit, the only extras you will need are baking paper and a little butter for the filling but everything else is included. As well as the mixture components, there is also a template for when it comes to correctly piping the macaron mixture and two piping bags for the base mixture and the filling. The instructions are very straightforward and I was careful to follow them to the letter, despite my usual tendency to not follow instructions at all and do my own thing. I did as I was told this time I promise!

The Zumbo Salted Caramel Macaron Kit
- it also comes in a passionfruit variety

So, how did I go? The process of making up the two components - the meringue part and the filling - was pretty straightforward and I was happy with that side of things. When it came to piping the macaron mixture onto the baking trays, I found it quite fiddly and I imagine that any self respecting pastry chef looking over my shoulder would have been mortified at my technique - but hey, these kits are pitched at home cooks like us, right? I did notice that the mixture was looking very smooth and glossy, which I knew was how it is meant to look at that point in the proceedings (that Masterchef episode with the Zumbo macaron tower challenge was all coming back to me!) Despite my clumsy piping technique, all was looking good.

The moment of truth, and I took the first tray of macarons out of the oven. Most of them looked pretty good but a few had cracked a little here and there. I don't have the best oven in the world, so I suspect that this may have been the cause of the cracking on some of the macaron shells, as I really was careful to follow the instructions on the box exactly.

Piping the filling and assembling the final product was fun (I think I perfected my piping technique by then and was more confident with it) and for the most part, I was reasonably happy with how the batch turned out - notwithstanding the odd crumbly macaron here and there.

Salted Caramel Macarons
the finished product

Taste wise, the macarons were sweet and tasty with a decent salted caramel flavour - but I have to be honest here, they aren't in the same ballpark as the genuine Zumbo article from the patisserie. The filling they make in the shop is a lot deeper and richer in colour, with that slight touch of bitterness that a good salted caramel should have. The kit filling lacked that bitter/salty counterpoint to the sugar/meringue, resulting in the macarons being far too sweet for my taste.

The Verdict
The Zumbo Macaron Kit certainly makes whipping up a batch of macarons pretty easy, with all the equipment the home cook needs. The end result is a very sweet (perhaps over sweet for some)  macaron that you would be quite happy to serve. For me though, they lacked the perfect texture and extra salted caramel punch of the genuine article. I guess the real test is, would I buy the kit again? For me, the answer is no. I wasn't completely won over - maybe I'm too aware of how different they are to what Adriano sells in his shop and it was impossible not to compare. Overall I give the kit a score of 6.5/10.

The kits are available from some supermarkets and from Adriano Zumbo stores. For more info, head to the website: http://adrianozumbo.com/


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lemony, Garlicky Chicken with Fregola

Summer eating really lends itself to vibrant Mediterranean flavours, so that was the inspiration for today's recipe. I had a large bowl of lovely cherry tomatoes grown and harvested from our little inner city garden and a nice crop of basil, as well as a pack of fregola that had been sitting in the pantry not yet opened, so it made sense to put them all together. A couple of lemons in the fruit bowl, as well as some lovely organic garlic sealed the deal. I had intended cooking a plain old roast chicken for dinner, but thought that there was no point leaving our lovely free range Burrawong chook out of things, so it got the Mediterranean flavour treatment as well.

Some of you might not have come across fregola before. Fregola comes from the Italian island of Sardinia and is small beads or "pebbles" of semolina pasta traditionally formed by hand, then toasted. This process gives the fregola a delightfully nutty and chewy character. Fregola is made by sprinkling water over semolina flour and quickly rubbing your fingers through the flour creating small balls of pasta. These are then sifted through different sized strainers to collect fregola of similar size so they cook evenly. Very sensible. It is used in a wide range of dishes from soups and stews to cold salads and accompaniments for meat or seafood.

As well as being very tasty, it is particularly versatile - you can pretty much use it anywhere you would use pasta, risoni or cous cous. Fregola is popping up on menus more and more, and these days it isn't overly difficult to get hold of. An Italian deli or good supermarket is likely to stock it. I have also seen it in gourmet stores so keep your eyes open for it. Although I am serving fregola today as a side dish with chicken, this would be a lovely simple vegetarian dish in it's own right if you forget about the chook part.

 Lemony, Garlicky Chicken
with Fregola

Because of our shiny new BBQ, and the fact that I'm a bit obsessed with cooking on it at the moment,  I did the chicken in this recipe on the open BBQ grill, with the lid on for most of the cooking. You can of course cook the chicken in a normal oven - I have included those instructions in the recipe below. If you are cooking the chicken in the oven, I recommend using a rack to cook the chicken on - allows better air circulation around the food and you will end up with a far better result.

You will need:
For the chicken - 1 whole free range chicken (skin on), 6 cloves minced or very finely chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 anchovies chopped or minced very fine, the juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon Harissa (if you don't have this, you can use minced chilli instead)

For the Fregola - 1 cup Fregola, 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped spring onions, 1 tablespoon chopped pitted black olives, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 2 anchovy fillets finely chopped, 1 tablespoon baby capers rinsed, 2 teaspoons olive oil, a handful fresh basil leaves.

To serve - extra basil leaves and lemon

Rinse the chicken with cold water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through either side of the backbone, removing the backbone and chook's bum with it. Turn the chicken breast side up and push on the breast so that the chicken is flattened out a little.

Combine all of the other chicken ingredients in a smallish bowl and mix well. Rub the mixture thoroughly all over the chicken, including under the skin as much as possible. Put the chicken on a plate, cover and allow to the flavours to infuse in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is even better)

When you are ready to cook, heat the BBQ to a medium/high heat and cook the chicken over the open grill for about 30 minutes, turning from time to time. Keep the lid on as much as you can. You can also cook the chicken in the oven - cook for about the same time, on 220C. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the chicken, so just keep an eye on it so that you don't over or under cook it.

Once the chicken is cooked, cover loosely with foil and allow it to rest while you make the fregola.

Combine the cherry tomatoes, 2 teaspoons olive oil, garlic, anchovies, capers, olives in a pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook fregola in a pot of simmering salted water for 10 minutes until al dente and drain well.

Add the spring onion and the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the drained fregola and mix well.

Cut the chicken into pieces and serve it with the fregola and some extra basil leaves and lemon. Serves 4-6 people.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweetness and Light

Pancakes are about as old school as you can get - archaeologists have found evidence that they were the earliest and most widely consumed cereal based food eaten in prehistoric societies. You will find them in some form in cuisines all over the world and everyone seems to have a different version of them. Depending on where they are from, you will find preferences for sweet, savoury, thin or thick, soft or crispy. Yep, pancakes have been a favourite amongst human beings for a long time.

Occasionally I whip up a batch of pancakes as a treat on a Sunday morning - they are a big favourite in our household, particularly a version I make with ricotta cheese and lemon. I thought I would share the recipe, as they are quite delicious and the perfect accompaniment for all of the lovely Summer fruit that is in season at the moment.

These pancakes are light and lovely, and would be great as a dessert as well as a special breakfast treat. The key to good pancakes is to not go crazy with the whisk and over mix the batter. If you do, you will likely end up with tough, rubbery pancakes instead of light, airy ones. I know some recipes get you to beat the egg whites separately, but as long as you aren't heavy handed with the mixture I don't think this is really necessary. Keep it simple, don't over beat the mixture and ensure that you allow the mixture to rest and all will be well. I use a non stick pan to cook my pancakes, but if you don't have one, just grease a normal pan lightly and you are good to go.

Because I serve these pancakes with sweet fruit and maple syrup, I don't put sugar in the pancake batter - I think this would make them too sickly. The lemon rind and the ricotta give the dish a lovely freshness and I don't want to drown that all out with a major sugar overload. These pancakes are best made close to serving time, but you can easily make the batter a couple of hours ahead if required and just keep the mixture in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

As for toppings, these ricotta pancakes are delicious with fresh natural yoghurt and pureed fruit as a sauce instead of maple syrup. They are also great with yoghurt, almonds and fresh honeycomb if you can get it. Yummy. Today, I chose nectarines, mango, blueberries and fresh figs - a perfect way to celebrate the fruits of Summer.

As if this dish wasn't nice enough to look at already, I increased the pretty factor by serving the pancakes on my lovely green vintage china plates that I found in a flea market whilst on my honeymoon in Paris. Something about them is very happy making to me - lovely memories. And anyway, who needs an excuse to eat off the nice china? Keeping it in the cupboard and not using it is utterly pointless.

So, channel your prehistoric ancestors and whip up a batch of pancakes - but maybe mix it up a bit by eating them off the good china? Hell, why not?!

Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes
with Summer Fruits and Maple Syrup

You will need: 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, finely grated rind of half a lemon, 1 1/3 cups self raising flour, two pinches salt, 3 heaped tablespoons ricotta cheese. To serve - maple syrup, fresh fruit .

Method: Whisk together the milk, salt, eggs and lemon rind. Add the flour gradually, continuing to whisk until smooth. Put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Fold through the ricotta cheese - it does not have to be smooth - leave some lumps in it. A bit of texture is pleasant and you will get delicious pockets of ricotta as you eat the pancakes.

Heat a non stick fry pan to a medium/high heat and cook the pancakes in batches until golden. Serve the pancakes right away stacked with fresh fruit and drizzled with maple syrup.

Makes 6-8 pancakes.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rockin' Ribs

A hot Sydney Saturday night, a new BBQ, a recent trip to the butcher and the inclination for something simple and tasty was the inspiration for today's recipe. It's been really hot this week, so the idea of not being stuck in the kitchen and doing some cooking outside was especially appealing. Yesterday we went out and bought a new BBQ. The process of finding one has taken a while, as we wanted something that would suit our needs but also not take up too much space. So many of them these days are bloody gigantic!! After much online research and household discussion we decided on the highly rated and very snazzy looking Ziegler and Brown Twin Grill. And yes, I had to choose the fire engine red model, couldn't help myself. Have to say we are really happy with it so far - I predict I'll be cooking with it all week as I experiment with different cooking modes and ingredients.

There was a selection of meat to choose from tonight, as this week we visited our meat supplier Grant at Feather and Bone - and had restocked the freezer in preparation for returning to work next week. Regular readers will have heard me talk about Feather and Bone before - a local company that supplies sustainably raised meat with guaranteed provenance. With a focus on supporting small producers, a commitment to the whole journey their food makes, from paddock to plate and their philosophy of sustainability, they are the pick of the crop as far I'm concerned if you choose to eat meat. I won't pretend that they are a cheap option - their meat is not produced on a large scale and you do pay a fair bit more for their products. We decided however, that we would rather pay more, get top quality food that has been ethically produced but have it less often in order to work it into our household budget.

If you live in Sydney and are interested in what Feather and Bone do, or you want to source their products, then the details for their website is at the bottom of this post. Oh, and by the way, this is not a paid endorsement - I'm just a regular customer who thinks highly of them and their excellent produce. To give you an idea of the sort of quality we are talking about, they supply meat to some of the best restaurants in the city - including Rockpool, Billy Kwong, Universal and Red Lantern among others.

So, what was for dinner tonight? Well, we had bought some gorgeous dry aged Gundooee beef ribs from the folks at Feather and Bone and thought that they would be perfect on the new BBQ. I made a delicious, smoky, sticky sauce - given a bit of a fresh kick with lime, chilli and a splash of tequila. I didn't bother putting the ribs on a plate - just served them on a huge chopping board in the middle of the table with BBQ'd corn on the cob, pickled red chillies and some extra lime. We ate the whole lot with our hands - messy, fun and delicious!

Tequila Lime Beef Ribs
served with BBQ corn and pickled chillies

A handy hint when cooking ribs (or anything else for that matter) where you are using a sauce that contains sugar - in this case, in the form of honey - is to pretty much cook the meat first, then glaze it. This will stop the sauce from burning quickly and your meat being undercooked in the middle. You want that lovely sticky sauce packed with flavour - but not cremated within an inch of it's life!

This simple recipe would work just as well with pork ribs or chicken wings, so crank up the barbie and give it a try. And remember, plates and cutlery are optional!

Tequila Lime Beef Ribs
You will need: 1kg Beef ribs, 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce, 1/4 cup Tequila, 4 minced or finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, Juice of one fresh lime, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons hot chilli sauce (or less, if you don't like spice)
3 tablespoons honey. Extra lime, pickled chillies to serve. Extra salt and pepper.

Method: If the ribs are particularly large, cut them into smaller pieces so they are easy to eat with your hands. To make the sauce, combine the BBQ sauce, garlic, lime, chilli sauce, both kinds of paprika, pepper, lime juice, Tequila and honey in a small bowl.

Heat the BBQ to a medium heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until they start to brown. If your BBQ has a lid, keep the lid down for most of this time.

Once the ribs are pretty much cooked, start to baste them with the sauce and cook for about another 10 minutes. Turn them and continue to baste from time to time. When cooked, remove the ribs to a plate and cover with foil. let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with extra lime and pickled chillies. Serves 2-4 people.

Note: You could easily cook these in a conventional oven if you wish - I would do them for about 25-30 minutes on about 200C. 

For more info on Feather and Bone check out their website:  www.featherandbone.com.au


Monday, January 7, 2013

Lucky Duck

Well hello and Happy New Year to you all! I'm back from our South Coast getaway but very lucky to still be on holidays at the moment. To say that our household has been in extreme sloth mode would be an understatement - plenty of book reading, movie watching and long afternoon naps. Food wise, there has been a lot of sushi consumption, as well as Frosty Fruits and Caramel Cornettos eaten in front of the air conditioner as we try to escape the heat. In our hot Australian Summer, it makes perfect sense to eat light, fresh and flavourful food - and nothing fits the bill more than my favourite Asian cuisine, Vietnamese.

This week I decided to make a version of the classic crispy Vietnamese pancake - a restaurant fave for me - but with a different filling from the usual pork, prawn and beansprout one. I'm on a mission to use up freezer and pantry items right now and I didn't really want have to go out and do a special shop for all the ingredients, so I just used what I had. Checking in the freezer I found I had a couple of duck breasts and I thought they would lend themselves really well to this dish. The freshness of the herbs, the aromatics of turmeric and coconut and the tang of the lime and chillies are the perfect contrast to the rich duck meat.

These pancakes are extremely easy to put together and make a perfect meal by themselves, or part of a shared Summer buffet. I served the pancakes with nuoc cham, the classic Vietnamese dipping sauce - also very easy to make and which gives this dish a very authentic feel. I made quite a mild version today but add heaps more chillies if you want something with more of a kick. You can of course fill the pancake with all kinds of things - the pork belly and prawn combination that is very popular, chicken, minced pork, spicy tofu or even fish. You could also skip that all together and just do a super light salad version. Although I didn't use fresh beansprouts in my recipe (just because I couldn't be bothered going out and buying any!) I do think they add a beautiful crunch to this kind of pancake and when I make this again, I will actually get off my backside and go and get some.

Crispy Duck Pancakes
with Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce)

The method I have used for cooking the duck is a really good one to know and one that I use every time I cook it. Follow the steps and you will end up with a super crispy skin and succulent flesh, but without oiliness. Just render that skin gradually and drain off the fat as you go, then finish in the oven, rest the meat properly and you will have perfect duck every time.

In GG restaurant news, later this week we are heading off to Neil Perry's Spice Temple - you might recall last year I reviewed the Melbourne restaurant after having lunch there and really loving it. We are visiting Spice Temple in our own city this time around and I'm really craving chilli at the moment, so this will definitely fit the bill. Many of the dishes are eye wateringly, lip tinglingly spicy and I want to get a big dose of that. Just what you want in Summer I think (although Andrew doesn't share my penchant for the numbingly spicy, so I might be going it alone with some of the dishes!)

We are also off to Matt Moran's Chiswick in early February - taking Lady Nanette (aka Grandma) and my Aunt and Uncle in law (is that a real term?) Meg and Mark out for a special Sunday lunch when they visit from Canberra. I have been curious to check out Chiswick after driving past and seeing their on site garden where they grow produce for the restaurant. This will be a perfect excuse to visit. I will be sure to report back and let you know how it was. I'm told that the produce is really top notch, and that it is the perfect lunch venue, with it's garden surroundings. I'll ignore the fact that heading to the Eastern Suburbs always makes me slightly twitchy - that Stepford Wives vibe, boat shoes, Joh Bailey hair and too much Botox. All kinds of scary! But you know me, if the food is good - I'm going there!

Anyway, back to today's recipe - This is the first time I have had a go at making Vietnamese pancakes and I was really happy with the result. My version is a combination of a couple of different recipes I'd read and I think that this hybrid of mine worked really well. I was flying by the seat of my pants a bit, but the result was something I would happily make again. Hope that you are inspired to give it a try too.

Crispy Duck Pancakes with Nuoc Cham
You will need:
For the pancakes -1 1/2 cups rice flour, 2 tbs cornflour, 1 x 400ml can coconut milk, 1 cup iced water,1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, Pinch of white pepper, 2 tbs peanut oil

For the filling - 2 duck breasts (skin on), 1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onion, 1 small carrot julienned very finely, 1/2 small red capsicum, julienned very finely,1 small Lebanese cucumber julienned very finely, 1 bunch fresh coriander, handful of fresh mint leaves. Have extra lime, mint, chillies and coriander on hand to garnish the dish.

For the sauce (nuoc cham) - 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 tbs water, 1 tbs caster sugar, 1 or 2 red chillies de-seeded and finely chopped, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped.

Method: First, make the batter. Whisk the rice flour and the corn flour, coconut milk, water, turmeric, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Season with white pepper. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon. If the mixture is too runny, add a bit more rice flour. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight to rest.

For the sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Now, cook the duck breasts. Heat the oven to 200C. Score the skin of the duck in a criss cross pattern - don't cut in to the duck flesh, you should score the skin only.Heat a non stick fry pan over a low-medium heat. Sit the duck skin-side down in the pan and allow to gently fry for around 10-12 minutes. Gradually, the fat from the skin will begin to render away - drain away the fat as this happens. Take your time with this step and don't be tempted to turn up the heat - we want the skin to be golden and crispy, not burnt. Turn the duck breasts over so they are skin-side up, and allow to cook for about a minute more.

Now place the duck on an oven tray, skin side up and allow to cook further in the preheated oven for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the duck to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing into thin slices.

Now to the pancakes - Brush a fry pan generously with the peanut oil. Heat over a high heat until the pan is smoking. Add one-quarter of the flour mixture and tilt pan, swirling batter to cover base and slightly up the side. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the batter is golden underneath. Place one-quarter of the duck breast and a sprinkle of spring onion onto half the pancake and then fold it over. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Repeat with the rest of the ingredients until you have four pancakes. Fill the pancakes with the cucumber, carrot, capsicum, spring onion, mint and coriander. Arrange on a serving platter and drizzle with the nuoc cham (sauce), garnish with some extra lime, fresh chillies, mint and coriander. Serve right away.

Makes 4 generous pancakes.