Ben Williamson: Summer Eating

From the archives: This is from our original site, MyCityLife, posted back on 4 December 2014

A culinary artist isn’t born overnight: their excellence is bred through a lifetime of rigorous training to learn the way of the knife. As a local legend, Ben is well travelled, honing his skills around Australia, flying high with Gulf Air before finally settling in as Head Chef for one of the city’s most reputed eating holes. Under Ben’s guidance, the team at Gerard’s Bistro pushes the boundaries with traditional dishes inspired by the Middle East, Northern Africa and Southern Europe. And as we step into the summer months, Ben guides us through a summer of BBQs, Beach and Celebration. 

BEN SAYS

Respect the product and it’s origins. Quality food in every day living is important – it sustains and nourishes, excites and inspires. The most important memories in life are punctuated and polarised by the tastes and scents of the food and drink associated with those moments.

BEN’S BBQ TIPS

Go charcoal. It’s natural, imparts a better flavour and achieves a great crust on meats. I’m even grilling veggies on coals.

EAT AT THE BEACH WITH BEN

I can’t think of anything more appropriate than fish and chips. Coming from Perth, I have countless memories as a kid eating this and watching the sunset. Though now it would have to be with an ice cold beer or bubbles. 

BEN’S SUMMER FOOD TIPS

Really good salads as a meal is a winner for me, but I’m a big one for seafood. When we have a load of crab meat or prawns, I love to to mix it with vinegar and salt and make sandwiches with smoked butter.

TAKE HOME A SLICE OF GERARD’S BISTRO

Some may be put off by the thought of eating raw lamb, but this is the dish to convert them. The flavours are super fresh and light. Nothing symbolises the food at Gerard’s Bistro better. It excites the palate and really opens up the senses. This is one of my personal favourites.

KIBBEH NAYEER
INGREDIENTS
300gquality, fresh lamb loin or fillet, hand minced
25gLebanese pickled cucumber, finely diced
15gpreserved lime or lemon skin only, finely diced
30gconfit shallot (see method)
20gshallot oil (see method)
25gharissa pase
7gquality sea salt
12gconfit egg yolk (see method)
18gcured egg yolk (see method)
3-4red radish, finely shaved
1pktquality lavosh or crisp flat bread
METHOD

SHALLOT OIL
Combine 100g finely sliced French shallots with 200ml grapeseed oil in a saucepan. Place on lowest heat possible for 1-2 hours. Do not allow the shallots to colour. Cool to room temperature, then separate the shallots and oil. The shallots will be sweet and confited and the oil will have a sweet onion flavor. Reserve each for different uses. The oil will keep refrigerated for at least 2 months.

CURED EGG YOLK 
Combine 100g fine salt and 100g caster sugar. Separate two to three yolks and put down a layer of cure mix in a small non-reactive container. Make yolk side divots with the back of a spoon and put in the yolks – being careful not to break them. Cover completely with the remaining cure mix and keep covered, in a cool place for 3-4 days. They can keep for 2-3 weeks.

CONFIT EGG YOLK 
Separate four egg yolks into a medium mixing bowl and leave uncovered in the freezer overnight. When fully frosted and frozen solid, defrost at room temperature then whisk vigorously until thick and smooth, reserve.

COME TOGETHER
Combine the lamb, confit shallot and oil, pickled cucumber, preserved lime/lemon, harissa and sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve the kibbeh nayyeh in mounds on crispbread with dollops of the confit egg yolk and the sliced radish. Shave the cured egg yolk over the top with a fine grater or microplane, then finish with mint leaves.

Gerard’s Bistro
14/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley
07 3852 3822

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