Hot trend: Herb oil
Parsley/basil oil (over tomato and mozzarella salad). Photo: Steven Siewert
What is it?
Fresh herbs and olive oil, blitzed and strained to produce a clear, fragrant, Christmassy-green oil, is the fastest, smartest, brightest way to add instant colour and flavour to festive eating. European chefs are mad for it, and local chefs have their own love affairs with particular herb oils, from Asian basil to sorrel.
Where is it?
At Matteo's in Fitzroy North, Brendan McQueen uses kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger and coriander leaves to obtain a glossy green oil that he then uses to make mayonnaise for prawn remoulade with his hiramasa kingfish sashimi. Philippe Mouchel likes serving basil oil at PM24 with poached fish and rotisserie lamb. Tony Twitchett at Taxi Dining Room serves crisp-skinned Chatham Islands blue cod with corn risotto and confit chicken wings, finished with sweet basil oil. His tip? ''Don't be too shy when blanching, give them a good 30 seconds to help keep the colour bright.''
Why do I care?
Herbs. Olive oil. Simplicity. Deliciousness. Christmas friendliness. And you don't care?
Can I do it at home?
Yes, just blanch a load of fresh herbs, refresh them in icy-cold water, dry them off and blitz them in a blender with your preferred oil, then strain through a filter overnight. It's easier to do a large amount than a small, so go for broke.
Taxi Dining Room Level 1, Transport Hotel, Federation Square, city, 9654 8808
Matteo's 533 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North, 9481 1177
PM24 24 Russell Street, city, 9207 7424
Parsley or basil oil
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley or basil
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
100ml grapeseed oil
Sea salt and pepper
1. To make the herb oil, chop off and discard the heavier stalks, leaving you with about 150g of leaves. Blanch the leaves for 20 seconds in a large pot of boiling water, then remove and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain well, squeeze dry and roughly chop. Whiz the herbs in a blender with the oils, sea salt and pepper. Strain overnight through dampened muslin or a paper coffee filter set inside a funnel (without stirring or rushing it) and use within seven days. Drizzle over lamb, chicken or fish, or serve with a salad of mixed coloured tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves and a scattering of cracked wheat, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes until tender and drained.