words by Frederik Swanepoel, recipes by Chef Joel Hobson, photographs by Harriet McDonald
Inspired by spring and all the invigorating produce delivered around October – November in the Auckland region, we decided to challenge one of our talented chefs, Joel Hobson, to select ingredients from the Auckland fresh produce markets over two days and create a three course meal.
Saturday Morning Day One:
We are roused up at the crack of dawn by the excitement of this venture that leads us to our first market: Otara Market. Filled with a vast cultural hotpot that delivers an impressive array of raw, deeply colourful, local and Asian produce. Findings of fresh produce such as puha, fresh turmeric, baby root vegetables, fresh seasons strawberries and many more, leave our chef’s thinking hat reeling with ideas. What is it that he could be creating? Is it a contemporary boil up, or a new season roast?
With our produce basket in hand, filled with: puha, orange, white and purple new season carrots, strawberries and fresh New Zealand oranges, we embark on the rest of our market journey.
Destination Britomart Farmers Market: Farmers and urban trawlers get to reverberate talks of fresh produce and deliver an experience that is highly recommended. Here we get to see not only an exceptional standard of vegetables, but also smoked pork produce, fresh seafood, potted herbs and vegetables perfect for the city fringe apartment balcony. Chef Joel takes some time to look around before picking up some bacon pork bones. He must be thinking of a convectional boil up as one of his courses? What will he be doing for the other two courses?
It would seem at this stage that Chef Joel has a plan of attack as he leads us to the Auckland Fish Market. What an inspirational collection of fresh seafood: snapper, hapuka, John Dory, gurnard, scallops, live eels, live paua, and many more. It is refreshing to know that so much of the New Zealand caught fresh seafood is available to the Kiwi public.
On a mission to find Nemo, Chef Joel drops a hint that he is well inspired by the scallops on sale; he must be planning a scallop entrée.
La Cigale French Market: Parnell is our last stop of the day where we are met with a typical European feel, complete with patisseries, cured meats, vegetables, spreads and dips. Chef Joel finds it hard to contain his excitement, as his menu seems to come together. He picks up pistachios and fresh herbs, but expresses his concern in finding fresh meat at the local markets, as he still needs to find the star act of his menu. After returning to the test kitchen, Chef Joel plays with a couple of ideas before wrapping up day one.
Sunday Morning Day Two:
Day 2 started around 9:30am at Coatesville market where we find Chef Joel frantically looking for fresh pork belly. We get him a coffee and pain au chocolat to calm his nerves. Enjoying the family style market with everything from crocheted scarves to hand made cheese, we quickly realise that this idyllically located and popular market will not deliver the desired Miss Piggy.
So with a bunch of fresh Spring asparagus in hand we revert to Farro Fresh Food Market on Constellation Drive, North Shore, to pick up the star act: Freedom Farms Pork Belly.
At the test kitchen Chef Joel takes a couple of moments to ramble through the pantry to finalise his market menu, and here is what genius he came up with.
“Nemo in a Shell” – NZ Scallops with Asparagus and Lemon Beurre Blanc
A quick and refreshing Entrée
200g Butter (Diced, Cold)
60 mL Cream
60 mL White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Juice of ½ a Lemon
Simmer cream, wine and lemon juice in a small pot until reduced by half then remove pot from heat and whisk in butter pieces 3 at a time. Set aside for plating. This sauce can be warmed if chilled too much.
Scallops with Asparagus
1 Bunch Asparagus
4 Sprigs Parsley
30 mL olive oil
Cut ends off asparagus and poach in salted water for 2 minutes
Season scallops with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear in a hot pan for 40 seconds on each side and remove.
Assemble asparagus and scallops on plate and spoon over sauce. Garnish with parsley and olive oil.
“ Miss Piggy” – Pork Belly and Puha
A contemporary boil up. Prepare the broth and pork belly in advance as this dish takes several hours to prepare.
800g Pork belly
1 Medium Agria Potato – cut into 1cm thick circles
1 Medium Orange Kumara – cut into 1 cm thick circles
1 White Onion – roughly chopped
4 Orange baby carrots
4 White baby carrots
4 Purple baby carrots
1 Bunch Puha
1 kg Bacon Bones – (Smoked Pork Bones)
4 L Water
Salt and Pepper
300g Butter – melted.
Broth & Pork Belly
Place bacon bones, onion and pepper corns into large pot with water simmer for 1 hour.
Place pork belly in broth and simmer on low heat for a further hour. Remove pork belly and set aside. Retain broth liquid for poaching whilst straining broth to remove the bones.
Potato and Kumara
Place potato circles, kumara circles and melted butter in small ovenproof pot. Confit in oven pre heated to 130 ‘C oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove vegetables from the fat and set aside to fry before serving.
Bring broth back to a simmer to poach remaining vegetables
Poach the cleaned carrots for 2 minutes.
Poach puha in broth for 10 minutes.
Cut pork belly into 4 pieces, season the skin side with Salt & Pepper then place skin side down in hot pan until crisp (+-10 minutes), Also pan fry the Potatoes and Kumara on both sides until golden.
Assemble all ingredients in 4 separate bowls to serve and pour broth over.
Garnish with oregano and olive oil.
Time to open the curtains for the main attraction.
Blini with Strawberry Cream and Compote.
50g Butter – melted
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Self Raising Flour
1 Tsp. Vanilla Essence
2 Tbsp Sugar
Wisk egg, sugar and vanilla essence together.
Melt butter and pour into milk. Fold in flour and mix to form light dough.
Cook small spoonfuls on a medium heat non-stick pan until golden on each side
4 Strawberries, crushed with 1 tbsp. sugar
400 ml whipped cream
Fold together, add more sugar if needed
4 Strawberry quartered
1 Orange for Juice and ½ for zest
1 Tbsp. Sugar
Crush strawberries with all ingredients and mix.
Place blinis on plate and 2 spoons of strawberry cream on top. Spoon over compote and garnish with crushed pistachios and shaved chocolate.