‘Vegemite generally is a love/hate factor – however it provides a depth of flavour’: cooking with Jack Stein | Life and elegance


Which is best: Vegemite or Marmite?

If you ask Jack Stein, younger British chef and son of Rick, he’ll say Vegemite.

So a lot in order that the Brit makes use of it in one of many key dishes – Singapore blue swimmer crab, with Vegemite – that he cooks up in his new present Born to Cook: Jack Stein Down Under, which showcases the thriving meals scene in Western Australia and premieres on SBS Food Network on Wednesday evening.

In reality, it’s one thing of a signature ingredient for the rising star, who makes use of Vegemite or Marmite in a lot of his dishes. “I add it to everything, gravy, I make Marmite butters which I throw into sauces at the last minute,” he says. “I’m a bit of a one-trick pony with it.”

Pairing it with swimmer crab “can be a bit of a love/hate thing,” he says, “but it’s only a tiny amount: you wouldn’t know it was in there – it gives it a real depth of flavour.”

Stein’s affection for Vegemite started when he visited Australia as a baby along with his chef father and household. He and his brothers quickly turned obsessive about Australian treats: “We were constantly trying to smuggle Cherry Ripes and Vegemite from Australia, back in the day.”

On quite a few subsequent journeys, the Steins typically heard concerning the rising meals scene in WA. Jack first visited in 2000 after a browsing journey to Indonesia, and fell in love with the area’s meals and wine. And he was struck by how pleasant these working the cellar doorways have been – notably in contrast with European wineries. “Especially in France and Italy and to some extent Spain, you can sometimes feel a bit like you are trespassing, whereas in Margaret River you feel very welcome.”

These days Stein heads up his father’s restaurant empire, overseeing 9 eating places, a pub and a cookery college. “The old man” is famend for his seafood cooking and Jack’s type could be very related. “Probably half [my] recipes are mostly Rick’s with a couple of tweaks,” he jokes.

And so, whereas there are pork and lamb dishes on Born to Cook, the emphasis is on the native seafood. One of the segments is targeted on marron, the freshwater crustacean distinctive to the area. Stein and the crew went out with a neighborhood marron farmer, Jim, to catch the lobster – however Stein struggled. “You think in most food shows they would probably pretend you caught one – but they were like, ‘Nah, if you can’t catch one, you can’t catch one.’”

He needed to depart the fishing to Jim and as a substitute targeted on cooking the catch. “I always think lobster goes really well with aniseed flavours and fennel, so [this recipe was] Pernod, some mustard and soy sauce.”

Stein grew up in Cornwall and has lengthy been a eager surfer. One of his private filming highlights was browsing in Yallingup with the retired champion and native legend Taj Burrows. “When you paddle out with him and you’ve got a drone above you, everyone just gets out the way, so I had loads of waves, it was brilliant.”

So what’s his favorite post-surf snack? “I really like raw fish, like ceviche or a poke or something that’s high in protein and not cooked too much. You come out of the sea and suddenly you turn into a health freak.”

Some of the present’s recipes have made it on to the menu again in Stein’s Cornwall eating places. Although they’ve been tailored to native substances, diners get to benefit from the ceviche of dhufish and finger limes, a model of the marron dish with langoustines, and the Singapore blue swimmer crab – with Marmite.

Stein has a lot of different initiatives within the pipeline, together with a brand new cookbook. And there’s all the time speak, he says, of opening one other Rick Stein restaurant – notably since Bannisters in Mollymook, New South Wales, was awarded a hat by the Good Food Guide. Stein would love to open one in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth, with so much happening in the food scene in those cities. “It’s just the right site in the right place,” he says.

Singapore blue swimmer crab with Vegemite

Jack Stein’s Singapore Chilli Crab with Vegemite

Photograph: SBS

2kg blue swimmer crab, cooked
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 2.5cm fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 medium-hot red Dutch chillies, finely chopped
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Vegemite
150 ml (5 fl oz) water
2 spring onions, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces and finely shredded, lengthways
Handful of chopped fresh coriander

Prep the crabs by removing the heads and hard mouth parts from the internal structure, and quartering the bodies. Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and submerge the crabs for five minutes. Drain and dry off the crabs.

Finely chop ginger, garlic and the chillis. Set aside.

In a deep pan set to medium high, heat the sunflower oil and place the sectioned crab into the pan. Roast the shells off for 3 to 4 minutes to intensify the flavours before adding the rest of the ingredients. Pass the shells off into another bowl and leave the remainder of the oil in the pan.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan with the old oil, then add the ketchup, dark soy, a dash of water and a teaspoon of Vegemite. Let that simmer together for 30 seconds and then add the crabs back in, including the runoff juices. Cover the pot and let it steam for five minutes. The sauce should reduce to a single-cream consistency.

Chop the spring onion and fresh coriander roughly. Spoon the crab out into a bowl, sprinkle over with garnish and serve.

Born to Cook: Jack Stein Down Under premieres on Wednesday 28 June, 7.30pm on Food Network. Also available on SBS On Demand

Alexandra Spring from theguardian.com

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