Cook this: Potato gnocchi with lap cheong and kombu butter from How Wild Things Are

‘It may sound like an odd combination, but it works,’ says chef Analiese Gregory

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Our cookbook of the week is How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with the author.

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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Fresh ricotta with bottarga, peas, broad beans and asparagus; and Basque cheesecake.

When chef Analiese Gregory worked in London, England in her late teens, she was put on a gnocchi station in a French restaurant. “I used to spend 50 per cent of my days just making four types of gnocchi,” she says, “but came to really, really love it.”

The base gnocchi recipe that follows has roots in those early days, but the rest of the elements came later. Working in Sydney, Australia after stints in Paris and then Auckland in her native New Zealand, she began to include more influences from her upbringing.

Gnocchi with lap cheong (the Cantonese name for Chinese sausage) marries her European training with her Chinese heritage. “I hate the word, but maybe it was one of my first little forays into fusion,” says Gregory.

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“I really love lap cheong. I just have this deep-seated love for it,” she adds. One day, she decided to combine it with some of her other favourite ingredients — gnocchi, chili sauce and kombu — to see what would happen. She enjoyed it, and others did too.

“It might be too strange for some people,” says Gregory, “but the general consensus is that it works.”

How Wild Things Are by Analiese Gregory
In her debut cookbook, How Wild Things Are, chef Analiese Gregory shares a slice of the slow-food life in Tasmania. Photo by Hardie Grant

POTATO GNOCCHI WITH LAP CHEONG AND KOMBU BUTTER

3 lap cheong sausages (dried Chinese pork sausage), thinly sliced
1 bunch kai lan (Chinese broccoli), washed and cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths
1 tbsp lemon juice

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Gnocchi:
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) floury potatoes
50 g (1 3/4 oz) finely grated parmesan
2 egg yolks
110 g (4 oz) 00 flour
Olive oil, for tossing

Chili Dressing:
50 g (1 3/4 oz) Lao Gan Ma (crispy chili and Szechuan pepper sauce), or other chili sauce
55 mL (1 3/4 fl oz) olive oil
30 g (1 oz) honey
1 tbsp black vinegar

Kombu Butter:
1 tbsp shio kombu
100 g (3 1/2 oz) cultured butter, softened
1 tsp shiro shoyu (a wheat soy sauce)
1 tsp wakame powder

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 175°C (340°F) and line two baking trays with baking paper and sprinkle with flour.

Step 2

Wash the potatoes and, with the tip of a knife, score a circle in the skin without cutting much flesh, about 5 mm (1/4 in) deep. This will make it easier to break them apart once cooked. Bake directly on a rack for approximately 1 hour, or until soft in the centre. Break the potatoes in half and press the flesh through a drum sieve or put through a ricer.

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Step 3

Weigh out 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of potato flesh into a bowl. Add the parmesan, egg yolks and a pinch of salt and mix with a spoon. Add the flour and fold in gently, being careful not to overmix.

Step 4

Turn the dough out onto a floured bench. Divide into fourths, then roll each into a thin log. Cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) pieces, then place the gnocchi carefully on the prepared trays.

Step 5

Cook the gnocchi in batches in some lightly simmering salted water. Wait until they float, then give them another 20 seconds before lifting out and putting them in an ice bath. Once all are cooked, drain and lightly toss with olive oil. Refrigerate.

Step 6

To make the chili dressing, mix all of the ingredients together.

Step 7

To make the kombu butter, rehydrate the shio kombu in 2 tablespoons water, then chop and combine with the butter, shoyu and wakame powder.

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Step 8

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and pan-fry the gnocchi in two batches, tossing halfway through to brown both sides. Pan-fry the lap cheong until it starts to render. Return all gnocchi to the pan, add the kai lan and kombu butter, and toss until the leaves start to wilt, approximately 1 minute. Season with lemon juice and salt if needed. Transfer to plates and dress with the chili dressing.

Serves: 4

Recipe and image excerpted from How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory © 2021. Reproduced by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.

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