One Ingredient – Sweet and Savoury… The Choko

Extra language of the salty old sea dog alert.

So I got my theme ingredient for the sweet and savoury challenge from my sister in law Liz. She is clearly trying to prove that in-laws are the nasty evil new-family-member-hating peeps they are made out to be.

CHOKOS. I hate fucking chokos. I don’t mean I hate fucking chokos, like, Friday night fucking. They probably put out quite well… I hate chokos. I despise chokos. I have tried to like the company of chokos but I enjoy spending time with them as much as I enjoy talking to anesthetists about their day (and I have heard these people talk. Believe me, it is not very exciting). I like to eat them as I like to eat sand (not often).

Actually I am being harsh. Not too harsh, just a little harsh. With proper thought my mind floats back to a brief love affair I had with the choko. Well, not with the choko but with its child, its offspring, a byproduct of its love… The choko pickle. But if I break it down to the lowest common denominator, I’m happy to have almost any type of pickled vegetable with a good terrine. And we’re coming into terrine country right now, and I think if you have a brain (you’re reading this right) you know how good a good terrine and some kinda pickle is in your picnic basket?

So we have a savoury but what about the sweet? I’m pretty sure the reason chokos have such a bad wrap is because a lot of Nanas would put the in apple pies as filler… With sad results. And what does this mean to me? Absolutely nothing. So what about choko hotcakes with choko and date compote. Let’s do it. And lets try to sound a little more excited about this whole choko situation, K?

And I’ll be absolutely honest, I feel the choko in the compote is not going to be the star, but more a carrier of other flavours. I may have not met the brief completely but you know what, the brief is stupid and biased and racist and not very good-looking.

CHOKO PICKLE for a terrine or ploughmans lunch, or even a cheese sandwich
1.5kg choko, peel, deseed, cut into small dice
2 cucumber, deseed, cut into small dice
2 zucchini, small dice
2 brown onion, peeled, blah, blah
½ cup salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tspn ginger, grated
2 tspn mustard seed
1 cup castor sugar
1lt white wine vinegar
¼ cup plain flour
1 Tbls tumeric
• Salt all diced vegetables in colander overnight
• Make a slurry out of the tumeric, flour and a little vinegar
• Put everything into a heavy based pot, simmer for 10-15 minutes
• Jar up, leave for a couple of weeks and then free the love

CHOKO HOTCAKES with choko and date compote
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
80g unsalted butter, melted
400g self raising flour
a pinch of salt
1 Tbls castor sugar
1 cup of peeled and grated choko
• Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
• In another bowl, whisk butter and eggs together, then add milks
• Make a well in the middle of dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and choko, and mix until just combined (a few lumps in the mix is ok. If you over-mix, the fluffy hotcakes you are expecting will be nothing but a thought, a fleeting moment in time)
• Heat a little oil and butter in a pan over a low heat
• Add dollops of the batter (make sure there is enough room in the pan to have some space between hotcakes or you’ll just end up with one big mess… tasty, but a big ol’ mess)
• Now don’t touch the hotcakes. Resist temptation. Please. Once bubbles are starting to appear you can peel back an edge and if they are golden brown then flip ‘em. Don’t be tempted to press down on hotcakes. Just let them do their thang
• Within minutes you should have nice fluffy, golden hotcakes
• Keep first batch in a warm spot or maybe in the oven (so that you and all the crew you were partying with last night can eat at the same time) and keep cooking the rest of the hotcakes in batches
• Serve with extra honey, choko and date compote (recipe down there) and icecream or mascarpone would be my choice
Choko and date compote
1 cup grated choko (peel that shit first, of course)
1 chop pitted dates, chopped
1 cinnamon quill
2 Tbls honey
1 cup orange juice
• Simmer all ingredients in a pot over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until thick and compote-y

Bayger Burgers, Byron Bay

Bayger burger joint, Byron Bay

Yep. You see what they did there with the name? Very sneaky. Like little white trash kids sneaking into the big top circus when it rolls through town… Very sneaky indeed.

Bayger is another addition to the ever-growing family of new wave eateries modern society calls “the burger bar”. Local free-range meats, locally baked buns, gourmet salad and home made sauces. Effing awesome. I love this shit.

As soon as I looked at the menu though, I discovered a typo. I continued reading and discovered a few more typos. This annoys me on a menu. On a random assed food blog – that’s fine, but on a menu… People got spell check right? A big brother or sister? Something? (Just in case, I will recant my previous paragraph if I am informed that they are crazy hippies and intended to write “we serve our beef burgers with slightly pink center enchanting the flavour”. I didn’t notice the pink center enchanting the flavour while we were there, but that’s not to say it wasn’t going on…)

Buffalo wings came with no blue cheese sauce, which was kinda disappointing since we were gagging for buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce, and got them because the menu read “buffalo wings… with a side of blue cheese dipping sauce”. But our buffalo wings came with no blue cheese dipping sauce. Maybe should of told us at the start instead of shrugging it off with a “no we don’t have any of that”. But they were good fried chicken wings tossed in sweet chilli.

Onion rings were good. Could have had a slightly thicker batter though.

Burgers were great except they were missing the pickle they were cited as having on the menu. But they were great. Cooked medium, juicy, well-seasoned, squishy soft Turkish bun… Fantastic. Really good burgers just let down a little by small inconsistencies. But this is what I’m always talking about. In the hospitality game, no matter how big your restaurant, or how small your wiener penis willy hotdog stand, you need to have consistency. You need to give people the product you are telling them they will get. And do it well… and then, as Jesus said*, life shall be good for all.

It was, like, 34 bucks for two burgers, fries, onion rings, “buffalo wings”, and a house made juice which tasted like fresh lemon, rose water and sugar? Maybe like a middle eastern home made lemonade. Well and truly worth it if they could just iron out a couple of kinks.

*may not be an actual quote from Jesus.