“What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

At last NYE, I was asked by my neighbour to cook at their place. I made an abalone stir fry with shiitake mushroom and a crayfish salad with a half-boiled duck egg. I adapted the recipe from Kylie Kwong – a well known Sydney chef, restauranteur, TV celebrity and author.

I heard about Kylie when I was living in Sydney, back in year 2000. It was her restaurant, Billy Kwong in the trendy suburb of Surry Hill that make her a household name. I went there with a group of foodie lovers when it was newly opened in 2000. They did not take booking at the time. I am not sure if they do now. The place is small, busy and fast. Like a traditional chinese eating house, but better. The decor was dark with two very large dark wood shelves to separate the dining area from the busy kitchen. We arrived early before 7pm. The place was already full. We gave a name and was told to come back in 30 minutes. We walked to a nearby trendy hotel pub around the corner. Had a drink and went back to the restaurant. We waited outside for another 10 minutes before a table was arranged for us. When we entered the restaurant, I could smell all the different aroma and spices from the kitchen. It smelled great. We were getting very hungry now and equally excited about the prospect of tasting Kylie’s food. It was a great night and a wonderful experience eating at Billy Kwong.

A few years later, Kylie wrote her first cookbook, Recipes and Stories. Thereafter, followed by her own cooking program as seen on ABC and published three more cookbooks.

When I was asked by my neighbour to cook their fresh abalone and crayfish, I went through my shelf of cookbooks and chose Kylie’s Heart and Soul for the dinner. I chose her recipes because I want to re-create her dishes to share with a group of very special friends. I have one aim in mind – that both dishes have to appeal to everyone’s taste. That, not knowing what their tastes are like, made my task more challenging. The fresh produces deserve extra care and not over cooked or over powered by the cooking. The abalone and crayfish were caught by my neighbours at the early hour of 3am when they go out to sea for their daily catch.

If you have Kylie’s Heart and Soul, the recipe is on Page 48 for Stir-fried Black-Lip Abalone with Young Ginger and Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, and Page 106 for King Prawn and Chili Salad with Soft-Boiled Duck Eggs.

Fresh Tasmanian Abalone and Shiitake Mushrooms Stir-Fry in Garlic and Ginger Sauce

I used Kylie’s recipe as a guide and made a slight adjustment to suit my cooking style. I add more garlic and ginger of equal portion, a bit more oyster sauce. I left out black cloud ear fungus – not everyone liking. I served on top of freshly sliced iceberg lettuce leaves – not stir-fry in the wok. And, finally I added some tapioca starch to create a bit of gravy from the sauce.

In Kylie’s recipe, the following ingredients are used.

600 g live abalone

1/3 cup peanut oil

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tablespoons finely diced ginger

2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine

1/2 cup fresh black cloud ear fungus

1/2 cup very finely sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps

1/3 bunch yellow garlic chives, cut into thirds crossways

1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon chicken stock

1 teaspoon chinese black vinegar

Dash of sesame oil

1/4 cup finely sliced red shallots

1/2 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce leaves

1/2 cup spring onion julienne


1. Clean abalone and slice thinly.

2. Heat the oil in a hot wok.

3. Toss in abalone and stir fry for 10 seconds. Remove and set aside.

4. Add garlic and ginger to wok. Stir-fry until fragrant.

5. Add wine, mushrooms, chives, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and chicken stock and stir-fry for 1 minute.

6. Return abalone to wok. Add vinegar, sesame oil, shallots, half the lettuce and half the spring onion. Stir-fry quickly.

7. Remove and garnish with remaining spring onion.

Enjoy the beautiful dish. The abalone should be soft and tender, not chewy and tough.

Tasmanian Crayfish Salad with Half-Boiled Duck Egg

In this recipe, I used crayfish that was previously poached by my neighbour. I made two other homemade salad dressings for the guests – a lemon curry mayonnaise and a dijon mustard mayonnaise.  Just in case, some guests may not take spicy food.

In Kylie’s recipe, the following ingredients are used.

2 free range duck eggs

12 uncooked king prawns

1/4 iceberg lettuce, very finely shredded

pinch sea salt

pinch cracked white pepper


1 large red chili, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 large green chili, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 1/2 inch knob ginger, sliced

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Boil a pot of water. Add eggs and boil for 7 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water and peel. Set aside.

2. Boil a pot of salted water. Add prawns and boil for 1 minute. Drain, refresh in iced water and drain immediately. Peel and devein the prawns. Sliced the prawn into two halves. Set aside.

3. Make the paste – pound the chilies, garlic, ginger, oil and salt in a mortar.

4. Stir in reserved prawns, lime juice and lemon juice.

5. Place some shredded lettuce leaves in a bowl. Add the prawn and some dressing. Slice the duck egg in half. Place on top of the prawn. Sprinkle some sea salt and cracked pepper.

Enjoy this beautiful salad – sweet, sour and spicy with the rich texture of duck egg.

6 responses to ““What’s Cooking” in Victor’s Kitchen

  1. Hi Victor – the abalone dish look so good. Wen I saw your post for the NYE, I told Mrs Dallas she need to get me some abalone next time she go shopping. I think we need a throwdown. 😉

    • Hey Dallas – maybe you and Mrs D can have a showdown. Both cook the same recipe and see whose come up the best. I read somewhere that it is the “mother of all shellfish”! You need to prepare it first – gut it. Quite disgusting and messy. Then lay it flat, smatch it to flatten a bit, then slice thinly. I do it the other way round – slice than gently smatch the flesh to flatten. They cook very fast. So, do not overcook. Good luck! 🙂

  2. These dishes both look so good! I’ve never cooked with abalone or crayfish, but I certainly wish I had access to these ingredients, this recipe looks great!

    • Hi Christine – we are lucky to get really good fresh seafood produce here in Tasmania, with the pristine water and air quality. Popular with top chefs from Sydney and Melbourne, esp trout, salmon, oyster and beef! Other great produces include apples, cherries, berries, truffle, saffron. If you ever come to Australia for holiday and a gastronomy tour, include Tasmania in your itinerary. You will love the place.

      There are some really wonderful recipes in Kylie Kwong’s book. Has a modern feel to her dishes.

      I hope one day I will be fortunate enough to visit NY. Cheers!

  3. Hi Victor,

    First time here. The homemade salad dressing sounds really good! i’ve always wanted to make it at home. 🙂

    • Sook – thanks for visiting. I am glad from your visit, I have also came to know your blog and wonderful recipes. Your latest on Shrimp Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms – I’ve got to try. Sounds delicious. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s