Cooking with Tulip’s Graham Jefferies

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We had a chat to Tulip co-owner and head chef Graham Jefferies and asked him to share one of the Geelong-based restaurant’s brilliant recipes.

What’s the Tulip concept about?

Tulip is contemporary restaurant serving seasonal, product-driven dishes designed to share, alongside a Victorian-focused wine list. At Tulip, we’re extremely passionate about delivering an exceptional dining experience in a relaxed comfortable space, without it feeling like a fancy restaurant.

Tulip is a restaurant for many occasions, whether you want to pop in for a glass of wine and some oysters, have a six course tasting menu or just bring the family in to share some lamb shoulder.

We go to great lengths to make sure our meat is genuine free range, fish from sustainable quotas and that our beef is grass fed, for example.

Why do you think Geelong has taken to Tulip so well?

We have an incredibly passionate team at Tulip and I really believe our customers can feel that. It makes the experience feel more authentic, I think.

Why did you choose to share the snapper dish with us? What in particular do you like about it?

The cured snapper is a very textural dish, which is something I think is very important. This dish is a light style of cured fish – I think snapper is best when raw or only lightly cured.

The cucumber, finger limes and sea succulents create bursts of flavour and textural contrast. Ponzu and seaweed powder add a seafood note and an important hit of umami, and it has plenty of acidity to balance out the crème fraiche. It has been one of our most popular dishes at Tulip and has remained on the menu since we opened.

 

Tulip’s Cured Snapper With Cucumber and Finger Lime

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the fish

1 fillet sashimi-grade fish approx. 200gm (preferably snapper from a sustainable quota)
80gm Rock salt
20gm Demerara sugar crystals
1tsp loose leaf Rooibos tea
10gm diced konbu

For the crème fraiche

50gm crème fraiche
1gm yuzu juice or 4gm lemon juice
Salt

For the ponzu

25gm lime juice
10gm rice wine vinegar
25gm soy sauce
5gm mirin
1gm bonito
5gm ginger (roughly chopped, skin on)

For the seaweed powder

1 sheet konbu
10gm bonito
100ml light-tasting olive oil
50gm N Zorbit tapioca maltodextrin (available at Essential Ingredient or online from Redspoon Company)
10gm nori sheets

For the garnish

1 cucumber
2 finger limes or ½ a ruby grapefruit
10pc sea succulents like samphire or sea blite

(PLEASE NOTE: sea succulents should be responsibly foraged as many of these succulents play an important role in prevented coastal erosion. Scissors should be used to remove the succulents without damaging the plant.)

Method

  1. For the fish: mix rock salt, sugar, tea and konbu in a blender and pulse until combined. Lightly cover fish fillet and allow to cure 40 minutes in the fridge. Wash salt mix off fillet and pat dry. Reserve for later.
  2. For the crème fraiche: combine crème fraiche and yuzu or lemon juice, season with salt. Set aside.
  3. For the ponzu sauce: mix lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, bonito and ginger in a bowl. Wrap and allow to sit for at least four hours. Strain (PLEASE NOTE: A possible substitute could be pre-made ponzu from any good Asian grocer).
  4. For the seaweed powder: mix konbu, bonito and oil in a small pot heat over low heat until the temperature hits about 80C. Cover and leave to infuse for two hours, then strain.

Crush nori sheets in a mortar and pestle. Combine infused oil with tapioca maltodextrin, and mix by hand. You may need to add a little of the maltodextrin until it resembles a powder consistency. Season with the crushed nori sheets and salt (PLEASE NOTE: A possible substitute is unseasoned seaweed snacks, available from any good Asian grocer).

  1. For the cucumber garnish: peel cucumber and cut into quarters. Remove seeds with a spoon. Place in a vacuum bag, and vacuum seal on full vacuum to compress. Cut into a 2mm dice. Slice finger limes in half and press the contents out of skin, pick out the seeds (PLEASE NOTE: Alternatively, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can place the cucumber on a paper towel to dry out for a few hours prior to plating the dish).
  2. To plate the dish: spread crème fraiche on plate. Slice fish approximately 5mm thick and place sporadically over plate. Place cucumber, sea succulent and finger limes on top of the pieces of fish. Spoon two tablespoons of ponzu onto the plate, then four tablespoons of the maltodextrin in between the pieces of fish. Garnish with sea succulents.

 

Lauren Bruce

Lauren started her writing career as a communications adviser before she realised she couldn’t ignore her passion for food and the arts any longer. She gave up the world of state politics to concentrate on freelance writing and styling. She has since contributed to Spook, Paper Sea and Junkee and is a regular contributor to GRAM Magazine.