One of the best things about holidays and travelling for me is the food. Sometimes you have that moment where you KNOW you are eating somethings SO good, that when you get home - months even years after that holiday you still get cravings for that dish! For me some of these things are In-N-Out Burgers in LA (i know, a burger, but so good!) Chilli Won-tons from Hu Tong on Commercial Road in Melbourne and from Melbourne also, the Kingfish sashimi from Chin Chin. We had the ''FEED ME" option the day that we visited, for $66 per person. They literally feed you! Dish after dish after dish came out. What an experience. The sashimi was the one thing that really stood out to me.


6 months later im STILL thinking about that Chin Chin lunch. I HAD to get my mits on their cook book so that i could try and replicate that plate of food that made such a mark in my mind. I sent my father in-law (a Melbourne resident) in to pick me up a copy and i just this weekend made my first meal from it. The book is full of so much goodness, its was hard to pick a place to begin. All the recipes are by Benjamin Cooper, head chef at Chin Chin and i do feel when reading it, its like a book of secrets! You really need to hunt down a copy and add it to your collection, you wont regret it.


I wanted to start with the sashimi but fresh fish comes in on Monday (today is Sunday) so i decided to make a curry. WHAT a process. The making of the paste, the roasting of the vegetables, all the components and accompaniments, it took me 3 1/2 hours! But it was by far the most complex, tastiest, silkiest curry i have ever made! It was amazing. I served it with pickled cucumber, jasmine rice and i also made a lime and palm sugar soda. Most of the unusual ingredients were easily sourced from our local market and Asian grocery store. Somethings were a little trickier to find, like the silken eggplant - i used just regular eggplant. Adapt where necessary if you need. I have never ever made a curry from the very beginning. It was fun! Here are the recipes and the process. Enjoy x

Serves: 4
Time: Takes time 


Yellow Curry Paste

1/2 cup turmeric

3 heads (bulbs) garlic, peeled

3-4 shallots

1 stalk of lemongrass (pale part only), chopped

1/2 bunch coriander root

1 1/2 tbs gapi

1/4 cup chipotle in adobo

1/2 cup large dried red chillies, soaked, seeded

1 1/2 tbs coriander seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 cinnamon quill

For the pickled cucumbers
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
1/2 Lebanese cucumber


Lime and Palm Sugar Sodas (my recipe)

100g palm sugar, grated

1/2 cup water

Zest 2 x large limes

Juice 3 large limes + 1 lemon (approx 1/2 cup)

4 x thick slices of ginger, skin on (20g)


Soda or sparkling water to serve

lime wedges



For the curry
400-500g Japanese or butternut pumpkin, roll cut into bite size pieces

2 silken eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon canola oil

550g boneless chicken thighs cut into a 2cm dice

I cup coconut cream, plus extra to serve

2 cups coconut milk

5 tbs yellow curry paste (see above recipe)

3-4 star anise1-2 cinnamon quills

100g palm sugar, grated

2-3 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs yellow bean paste

2 tbs tamarind water *(see note below)

1/2 punnet oyster mushrooms

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch Thai basil, leaves picked

1 large red chilli, sliced

1 kaffir lime leaf, julienne

For the curry paste 

Put tumeric, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, coriander and gapi in a roasting pan and add 1/2 cup of water and roast in a 160°C oven until fragrant and the water has evaporated. In a food processor, blitz the roasted ingredients and chillies to a paste. Cring the coriander, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Add to the paste with a large pinch of salt. The curry paste should have a balanced aroma of fresh ingredients with an endnote of the dry spices. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze in portions.

For the pickled cucumbers
In a saucepan, heat the sugar and 1 tablespoon cover a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. Combine with the rice vinegar. Cut the cucumber up however you like: moons, into ribbons or diced. Mix with the syrup. The longer you leave it , the more pickled it becomes.

For the sodas
Heat the palm sugar, zest and the water in a small pan over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove and add the juice and ginger. Cool completly. Strain to remove zest and ginger. Set the syrup aside until you are ready to serve. 


For the curry 

* Tamarind Water

Mix 3 tbs tamarind pulp (available as 'bricks' in Asian grocers) with 1 cup hot water and let it soak for about 30mins. Work the pulp with your fingers to help it dissolve. Strain, forcing through as much pulp as you can with a spoon. Discard leftover solids. Because tamarind water is used a lot in these recipes, make up extra and freeze it in ice-cube trays then defrost and use as necessary.

Roast the pumpkin until it is cooked through. Brush the eggplant with a little oil and grill until browned 


To a heavy-based pan over a medium heat add the coconut cream and a little oil and a large pinch of salt. Once the cream starts to separate an the oils split out add the curry paste and turn up the heat slightly until it becomes aromatic. This stage of the coconut cream separating took longer than i thought it would, so be patient. Add the star anise, cinnamon and palm sugar. Turn up the heat so the sugar caramalises quickly.


Add the soy sauce, yellow bean paste, coconut milk and tamarind water. At this stage add the chicken and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 6 mins or until the chicken is cooked through (if the sauce is too thick, add a little water.) Add the oyster mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until they are slightly softened.


Add the roasted pumpkin, grilled eggplants, tofu, tomatoes and the Thai basil. Stir through and simmer gently for a minute so to ensure the vegetables and tofu are heated through.

To serve

Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with a drizzle of the extra coconut cream, sliced chilli and lime leaf julienne. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and pickled cucumbers.


To finish the sodas, add the syrup to ice filled glassed with wedges of lime. Top with soda or fizzy water.






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