Book review: The Great Australian Cookbook

The Great Australian Cookbook

The Great Australian Cookbook is a fantastic gift for the keen cook at Christmas time or anytime of the year.

When it's not put to good use in the kitchen, it makes a wonderful coffee table book with its colourful illustrations by Reg Mombassa, famous for designing Mambo clothing.

Edited by Melissa Leong and Helen Greenwood, this huge tome showcases recipes and stories from 100 of Australia's fnest cooks, chefs, bakers and local heroes, including Adriano Zumbo, Alla Wolf Tasker of Lake House Daylesford, Frank Camorra of Movida, Maggie Beer, Jimmy Shu of Hanuman and the legendary Margaret Fulton and her daughter Suzanne Gibbs.

Share their favourite recipes and you'll find most of their thoughts and ideas are not so different to yours and mine.

For example, Lyndey Milan's favourite comfort foods are meatloaf with Italian flavours and her ultimate macaroni cheese.

For me, it has to be chicken curry and rice, spaghetti marinara or if I'm especially tired, a warming bowl of congee topped with crispy sliced Chinese doughnuts.

Here are some recipes for you to try out from the Great Australian Cookbook. Published byt Echo Publishing. RRP$50. Royalties from the sale of the book go to Ozharvest, to help nourish those in need.

So, buy it and help a good cause.

I've known chef Jimmy Shu of Hanuman in Darwin for as long as I've been in Australia.

He says, "The markets are my second home. It goes back to my childhood, following my Dad to the markets in Sri Lanka where I grew up.

"Just go to the markets, everything you need to cook is there, fresh and alive!"

Try Jimmy's recipe for:

Sri Lankan fish mouli (barramundi poached in coconut cream and lemongrass)

Serves 6

Dairy-free, gluten-free

600 g barramundi fillets, skin removed, cut into chunky cubes

2 tbsp vegetable oil

180g sliced red onion

2 sticks lemongrass, bruised

3 red bird’s-eye chillies, bruised

2 sprigs curry leaves

15 g sliced ginger

200g fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges

600ml coconut cream

1 tsp turmeric

100ml water (approx)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

fresh curry leaves to garnish

Season fish with a little salt.

Heat oil and stir-fry onion, lemongrass, chillies, curry leaves and ginger over a medium heat, until onions are soft.

Add tomato and cook for about 5 minutes.

Next, add coconut cream and turmeric, bring to the boil and lower heat. Add up to ½ cup of water if too thick.

Add salt and sugar, and check the seasoning.

Gently add the fish pieces and poach in the coconut broth for just 6 minutes. Garnish with fresh curry leaves and serve immediately with steamed rice and a crisp white wine.

Siblings Victor and Evelyn Liong of Lee Ho Fook have contributed one of the classics of Chinese cuisine, sweet and sour pork.

Try their version of it.

Sweet and sour pork

Serves 4


Sweet and sour sauce ingredients

100g onions, sliced

20g long red chillies, sliced

40g cloves garlic, smashed

80ml vegetable oil for cooking

125g strawberries, sliced

500ml chicken stock

120ml white vinegar

25ml Japanese soy sauce

130g sugar

40ml Shaoxing rice wine

120ml Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce

100g pineapple, diced


50ml Japanese soy sauce

50ml Shaoxing rice wine

15g chicken stock powder

20g sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sesame oil

1/8 tsp (1 g) five-spice powder

1 clove garlic, microplaned


300g organic pork neck, cut into 1½ cm cubes

oil for deep-frying

Starch mix

100g rice flour

100g tapioca starch

To finish

20g long red chillies, sliced thinly

20g spring onions, cut into batons

10g pineapple, diced finely

10g carrot, sliced thinly

30g kuzu starch, available at Japanese or specialist Asian grocer

40ml cold water

For the sauce: stir-fry onion, chilli and garlic in the oil in a wok until caramelised, then add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 3 hours, or until the strawberries have lost their vibrant red colour and have begun to turn white.

Strain and cool.

For the pork: mix all marinade ingredients together until dissolved. Marinate the pork neck cubes in the marinade

for at least 6 hours.

Place oil in a deep pan and heat to 180°C. Drain pork of excess marinade, dredge in starch mix until well coated,

and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes, until pork is cooked.

To finish: stir-fry vegetables in a little oil until aromatic. Add sweet and sour sauce and bring to the boil, then thicken

with a slurry of kuzu starch mixed with water. Add pork. Stir-fry until pork is coated in sauce and serve immediately.

You don't have to be Jewish or a member of the Monday Morning Cooking Club to enjoy this recipe for:

Gina's hair-raising honey cake

Serves 12

Dairy-free, vegetarian

25g (1/4 cup) dry breadcrumbs

375ml (1 1/2 cups) hot tap water

dry mixture

225g (1 1/2 cups) self raising flour

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

40g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

wet mixture

4 eggs

345g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar

185ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil

500g liquid honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease a 26 by 10cm angel cake tin, without a removable base as the mixture is quite liquid and may leak out.

Sprinkle the sides of tin with breadcrumbs, tip out any excess.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients togther in another bowl until well combined.

Mix the dry mixture into the wet ingredients until well combined, alternating with hot water.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in tin before turning out cake.