An exclusive Tenderheart recipe excerpt + my fave places to eat in Sydney
It's time to love celery...
It’s Australian launch month for Tenderheart! That came around quickly. I’ll be visiting Sydney and Melbourne on a super quick visit - if you are interested, come visit me in conversation at Kinokuniya on launch day 27th September at 7pm and in Melbourne at Readings on Thursday 29th September at 6.30pm. Grab your tickets now and remember, if a book comes with your ticket price, you are eligible for my pre-order bonus. For those in Australia, there is still time to pre-order - you have until 11.59am, Monday 26th September to get your pre-orders in. Fill in your details here, and I will send you your two bonus chapters which are all about corn and green beans. The US / INTERNATIONAL pre-order bonus will commence soon too. Watch this space.
To celebrate the Oz launch, I’m sharing an exclusive recipe excerpt from the book - it’s perhaps a recipe that wouldn’t jump out at you as you flick through the almost-200 recipes, but it is one of my personal favorites in the book. It’s a salad (surprise) - marinated celery with couscous and pickled golden raisins. When I first made this, I remember thinking, “how do I communicate to my readers how sensational this salad is??” After all, it is not good to show favouritism. But since this newsletter is my personal safe space, I can openly say - YOU MUST TRY THIS SALAD!
But before we get to the recipe, I wanted to share my Sydney eat list, compiled during my recent month long visit. It was my first time back in 4 years and between catching up with family and friends, we ate, and we ate well. The food in Sydney has always been incredible but after Covid, the city feels reborn, and dining scene feels abundant. I made this reel of some of the food I ate after I returned to New York (a lot of it was my mum’s food!), and many people asked for recs, so here is my promised list. Most of it is Asian food because that is what drives me. Also special thanks to my friend, food journalist and fellow vegetarian Lee Tran Lam who kicked off my eating adventures with an exemplary list of recommendations - many of the below started off as her recs.
MY 2022 SYDNEY EAT LIST
IIKO Mazesoba is Sydney’s first mazesoba restaurant. Mazesoba is a brothless ramen; it was my first time trying and I’m now obesessed. I visited during winter truffle month so I had the cheese and mushroom mazesoba topped with black truffle (!!!). I came back a few days later and ate it again. I wish I could eat it today. On their regular menu, they have a cheese mazesoba and a vegan one too. While you are there, make sure you check out the [new to me] Darling Square eating quarter. There are so many fun places to eat.
TenTo serves food as art. They serve ramen, sandwiches and their signature, ozachuke, which is a rice dish with green tea broth. My vegan ozachuke was worthy of a fine dining restaurant but was somehow made even more special served in this completely outdoor courtyard restaurant in Surry Hills. A transformative dining experience.
Dopa specializes in donburi bowls. Japanese dishes made using locally sourced ingredients from all around Australia. I tried their veggie don which was served with teriyaki eggplant tempura and bok choy. Leave room for the kagigori!
Comeco is a vegan and gluten free restaurant in Newtown’s ‘vegan mile’ which serves Japanese curries, sourdough nuts, sushi, bread and baked products. My kids loved the vegan karaage too.
Neko Neko Newtown serves excellent vegan and pescatarian ramen and Japanese curries. I had the vegan tan tan ramen (of course) and it was a standout. Get the extra spicy sauce, and the lotus root chips are highly recommended too.
Malay Chinese on Hunter Street is an old favourite of my husband’s - he ate here when he worked in the city. It more than satisfied my constant laksa cravings.We loved this bustling cafeteria. Sweet staff too.
Crystal Jade in Strathfield delivered a satisfying yum cha (dim sum) experience. Plump, well-filled dumplings with translucent skins and lots of choice. We came here a lot as kids and though it has changed hands many, many times since then, it still brings back great memories. The adjacent Strathfield Plaza is filled with amazing Asian eateries and 2 Asian supermarkets. I also eyed a very cool Korean banchan place.
Sushi Hotaru in The Galeries shopping centre has been our favourite sushi train restaurant for years and it remains so. My kids have been coming here since they were little. On our second visit, we had this torched tamago nigiri topped with a spicy mayo - it was was smoky and so, so good. I ate three plates!
Gram pancakes was a rec from my friend Jen, and it was definitely worth a visit. It’s also at Galeries and it serves up jiggly, wiggly Japanese style pancakes (it’s basically a cross between a souffle and a pancake). I hear there might also be a Gram in SF.
Emperor’s Garden Bakery in Chinatown is still dishing up their beloved cream puffs. There are still lines for these famous custard-filled mouthfuls, but the queue moves quickly and you get about 11 of them for 4 bucks. Sydney’s chinatown has changed so much and this is one of the last remaining original businesses.
Cairo Gourmet Kitchen was a surprise hit. We came here as a last minute neighborhood dinner and we were blown away by one dish in particular - the Arnabit Ma’aly which we did not originally order but was recommended to us by our server. And boy, this dish blew my mind. Golden fried cauliflower served with tahini and sesame seeds (the photo below does not do it justice!). Yes, it’s the type dish I make for myself all time but somehow, this one jolted our taste buds in a big way. Deeply savory and smoky. Inspired by this dish, I recently made this one with black sesame paste.
AP Bakery is a stunning rooftop space in the Paramount building. Enjoy baked treats, excellent batch brew, a ricotta and warrigal greens pie and excellent views of Sydney. This place is what I call ‘quintessential nouveau Surry Hills’.
This list is in no way definitive but it was just some of the wonderful places that made my return to Sydney so delicious. I’m sure many of you will have recs of your current fave places to eat in Sydney. If you do, please let us know in the comments section.
THIS MONTH’S RECIPE: AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM TENDERHEART
And did I mention how excited I was to write a whole chapter of celery recipes? I love an underdog and celery is definitely that. For the haters or apathetic, I think the celery chapter in Tenderheart might sway you to give this humble green a chance. My middle child is ardently anti-celery but he enjoyed the celery leaf soup and loved the celery and vermicelli spring rolls in the chapter.
Without further ado…
MARINATED CELERY WITH COUSCOUS AND PICKLED RAISINS
from Tenderheart (Plum Books 2022 and Knopf Cooks 2023)
This is salad will please crowds and surprise celery dissenters. Marinating the celery tames the strong grassy notes, bringing out a savoury side and offering a tender and crisp bite. The pickled golden raisins are tart and fruity, bringing high and low acidic moments, delivering plump pops of tang with every mouthful. While feta is optional, it does bring a sharp saltiness that works beautifully with the other ingredients.
For gluten free • replace the couscous with quinoa
4 celery stalks (about 225 g), finely sliced (reserve any tender leaves)
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white sugar|
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 cup couscous
100 g / 3.5 ounces feta, crumbled (optional)
handful of soft herbs (dill, parsley, coriander, chives), torn
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
Pickled golden raisins
70 g (1/2 cup) golden raisins
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 red onion or 1 eschalot/shallot, sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
In a small bowl, combine the celery, garlic, red chilli flakes, cumin, apple cider vinegar, sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and a few turns of black pepper. Toss to combine and leave to pickle for 30–60 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
To make the pickled golden raisins, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Toss to combine and set aside to pickle for 30 minutes.
Place the vegetable stock or water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the couscous to the pan. Stir, then cover and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and set aside.
In a large serving bowl, place the couscous, pickled celery and all the pickling liquid, the pickled golden raisins (strain off the the raisin pickling liquid but keep it in case the salad needs more acidity), feta (if using) and herbs and toss to combine. Drizzle with 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and toss again. Taste and, if it needs more acid, add 1–2 tablespoons of the raisin pickling liquid. Top with the almonds and serve at room temperature
Substitute • couscous: quinoa, farro, pearl couscous • feta: shaved pecorino • golden raisins: sultanas, dried cranberries
Vegetable swap • celery: fennel, cauliflower
Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Sending love Hettie - we’ve hit up Comeco, TenTo and AP rooftop in the past month: three from three winners. thanks for helping us be tourists in our own neighbourhood 😇
okay, you had me at vegan ozachuke & the gorg food tour of sydney's impressive veg scene & sealed the deal of excitement with pickled raisins in the recipe, sheesh : )
congrats on the release!!!!