This Summer I’m getting to know 5 Toronto Chefs by having food and wine conversations over a bottle of Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal. Today I’m talking to DaiLo’s Nick Liu.
Dailo Restaurant on Toronto’s College Street is one of the hottest (and best) in the city, but Liu is also killing the awards scene with his passion and talent in the kitchen. Voted as one of the Top 100 Chefs by Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, this kick-ass ninja chef knows how to deliver exquisite taste via top-notch ingredients with his notorious flare for local ingredients mixed with Asian flavours.
Liu was born in Scarborough and raised in Markham. His Chinese and Indian father was born in Kolkata; his mother, of Hakka descent, was born in South Africa. He’s had a plethora of experience cooking in the 6ix and he shares with us this mouth-watering recipe that pairs perfectly with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal.
What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?
On a patio or in the park. Somewhere outside.
Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
The Hakka Chinese people. They created Asian flavours in foreign lands using local ingredients
What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?
Organising my personal life.
What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?
When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what came to mind?
I wanted to pair it with something very fresh and aromatic. I also automatically thought of a canapé because of its slight frizzy texture on the palate. A lightly smoked fish I also thought would go great with Vinho Verde’s citrusy apple notes.
What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
Vinho Verde is a great wine to share with company during the summer days. The light, crisp palate allows guest to keep sipping, and the low price allows me never to run out!
Tell us why your dish pairs so well with Aveleda?
My dish is Smoked and Cured Trout with Thai aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaf, basil, mint, shallot and folded into a coconut almond satay sauce. This is then spooned onto a betel leaf which is slightly peppery, herbal and floral – perfect summer party fare.
Nick Liu’s Smoked Trout on Betel Leaf
The Fish (Start this recipe a few days before or the night before you need it)
1 side Ontario trout
4 cups cold water
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 cup salt
1 cup apple wood smoked chips
Combine the water, sugar and salt stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Tip: add mirpox, spices and herbs to your brine and your fish will pick up those flavours.
Submerge your trout in the brine and place in the fridge for 6-12 hours. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towel.
Smoke your fish in a bbq. Place the fish skin side down on a cider wood plank. Turn half the bbq on low heat. Ignite the wood chips in a metal baking pan and place directly over the heat in the bbq. Place the fish and plank on the non lit part of the bbq and close the lid. Let the trout hot smoke until cooked through 7-12 min. Remove the fish from the heat and let cool. In a bowl flake the fish meat and discard the skin. Place in an airtight container and store until needed. Stating the obvious: you can buy already smoked fish and skip this step.
Almond Satay Sauce
1 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp fried garlic chili shrimp sauce (maybe sold in stores as XO sauce)
0.5 cup ground almond
0.33 cup coconut sugar (palm sugar)
0.33 cup tamarind puree
0.33 cup fish sauce
Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Place in air tight container until ready to use. Tip: for a better sauce heat it up in a pot and simmer for a minute or two to bring all the flavours together.
Smoked trout meat
1 shallot, finely sliced
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely sliced
2 tbsp lime leaf, fine sliced julienne
2 tbsp thai basil, ruff chopped
2 tbsp coriander, ruff chopped
1 long red chili, cut in half,de-seeded, and julienne
0.5 cup satay sauce
20 betel leaves
Lay out your betel leaves shiny side up on a cocktail platter or wooden serving board. Combined all of the other ingredients and mix together in a stainless steel bowl with a rubber spatula. Tip: when mixing your ingredients be gentle. Try to not mash up your fish, try to maintain the fishes flakiness. Place approximately 1 tablespoons of the fish mix in the centre of each of the betel leaves.
When presenting your smoked trout betel leaves to your guests instruct them to eat it like a soft taco.