Rudi’s Section

Banana Skin and Peanut Curry

During the initial lockdown in 2020 I played around with a lot of wasted food items, from carrot tops to leek tops, onion skins and swiss chard stalks. I wanted to test as many options as possible, establish limits and how long it takes to breakdown when cooked to an acceptable product. Not everything was successful, I failed many times making vegetarian burgers using scraps as in my mind it made sense making it into a patty where it would be easy to hide an unwanted item.  One of the more successful experiments was using banana skin, I made banana skin bacon, savoury banana skin mince, savoury fried balls and even smoked pulled banana skin. It must be said that this is not going to impress everyone as banana has a very strong flavour and so doe its skin.

Banana skin curry is not a new recipe and many versions are available. I found that if the curry was left for a day to infuse it developed nicely soaking up all the flavours and spices. We collect the skins at home in the freezer for later use.

Spicy with a hint of sour sweetness, change it up by using chickpeas instead of the peanuts
I have added a spoonful of peanut butter before and that makes it even more nutty.

banana skin

Banana Skin & Peanut Curry

Prep Time: 30min

Cooking Time: 60min
Serving: 4
4 banana skins cut into small pieces about 1cm x 1cm
½ – 1 cup peanut
¼ cup red lentils
20 ml coconut oil
1-2 Tomatoes grated
2 tsp Curry powder
¼ tsp Cumin seeds
¼ tsp Coriander seeds
¼ tsp Mustard seeds
¼ tsp Fenugreek (optional)
2 ea cardamom pods (optional)
4 ea green chili sliced
3 small red chilies
1-2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp chopped or grated ginger
10 – 12 curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped mint and coriander
juice from one lemon or 25ml tamarind
1 tsp grated palm sugar or brown sugar
130ml coconut milk
water as needed

1. Toast all the dry seeds and spices
2. Add coconut oil
3. Add onion and sauté until soft
4. Add peanuts and lentils
5. Continue to sauté for 2 minutes
6. Add curry powder cook for about a minute
7. Add grated tomato
8. Add coconut milk and cook until lentils are tender
9. Add water as need
10. Add banana skins a cook for 30 – 40 minutes, if it cooks dry add some more water
11. Add curry leaves and mint adjust seasoning
12. Serve with steamed rice/roti and favourite sambal

I prefer cooking a lot of the moisture away making the curry slightly dryer


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Chả Cá Lã Vọng with Jacopever

Chả Cá

Chả Cá Lã Vọng at home

If I can not travel, my mind will, memories of Vietnamese food is driving me mad. I will happily travel to Vietnam just to have dinner at a homestay to have a portion of cơm lam (rice steamed in bamboo over a fire).
Somethings are just so damn good that it makes it easy to return time and time again. A number of years ago before going to Hanoi for the first time I had done a lot of research of where and what to eat, and at the top of my list with Pho, Bánh mì, Bun bo nam bo, Banh cuon, Bún chả bunca was Chả Cá.

The food in Vietnam is pretty healthy with so much herbs, loads of greens with the focus on freshness, balance of sweet, sour and salt.

Chả Cá Lã Vọng

Chả Cá Lã Vọng in Hanoi cooked table side

In the old quarter many restaurants specialise in one dish, I love this about eateries in Hanoi, they do not have restaurants with long menus, instead they focus on one, and do that dish very well, in the old quarter many restaurants specialise in cooking the tumeric spiced fish at your table, admittedly sometimes it does feel a little touristy, so finding the right spot is important.
We make this at home often, especially on those hot summer nights this is a very light refreshing dinner option. I often place the marinated fish like Jacopever in the weber on a used oak wine barrel plank and roast. It gives it a little smokiness which works so well with the combination of turmeric, ginger, garlic, dill, spring onion, peanut and fish sauce. Traditionally made with snakehead or catfish, any firm white fleshed fish will work.

Chả Cá Marinating

Chả Cá Marinating

Served with cold rice vermicelli noodles, handfuls of dill and spring onion with roasted peanuts with vietnamese mint, coriander and for me the part that brings it together – nuoc cham (combination of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and red chili). If you want to be more traditional make a shrimp paste sauce – Mam Ruoc Cham.
So weather you call it Chả Cá Thăng Long, Chả Cá Lã Vọng, Chả Cá Hà Nội, or just Chả Cá do not wait for your next trip, make it at home and pretend you hear the noise of a thousand scooters outside

Prep Time:40 min
Cooking Time:20 min
600g Jacopever fillets
Oil for cooking
Fish Marinade
2 tbsp Oil
2 tsp Sugar White
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
¼ Onion Red Chopped Very Fine
2 tsp Turmeric Ground
1 tbsp Ginger Fresh & Grated Fine
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Bunch Of Dill
10 Spring Onions, Cut 2 cm Lengths With the White Parts Sliced in Half Again in Length.
½ Cup Roasted Peanuts, Whole or Chopped

Garnish Sides
Extra Peanuts toasted as needed
300 g Rice Vermicelli dried
Handful of Mint Roughly Torn
Handful of Vietnamese Mint Roughly Torn
Bunch of Coriander Roughly Chopped or Picked
Red Chilies Red Chopped
250ml Nuoc Cham
1 ea Lime cut into Wedges

Nuoc Cham Sauce
4 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Sugar White
4 tbsp Lime Juice Fresh
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Clove Garlic Minced
2 ea Birds eye Chili finely sliced
1. Combine all ingredients for fish marinade and add cut Jacopever chunks, leave for +/- 45 min.
2. Make the nuoc cham dressing by combining sugar with lime juice add the fish sauce, chili, garlic and water. It must be sour, sweet and salty.
3. Cut spring into 2.5 cm long pieces with white of spring onion split in length in half.
4. Place rice vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or according to cooking instructions. Cool and place one side.
5. Heat pan and add oil, add the fish and cook until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan. Repeat the second and third batch. Best part is the golden crispy bits.
6. Cook Spring and dill with leftover marinade from fish until wilted. Add fish on top.
7. To serve, place cold rice vermicelli in bowl, add fish with dill, add fresh greens with peanuts and top with nuoc cham dressing.

Try the dill and the spring onion in the weber

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Finding Burger Part 18, Mushrooms!

Mushroom Burger

Mushroom Burger

I never thought I would admit it, but lately we have been selling more mushroom burgers than beef burgers, I would like to take credit but it most likely it has a lot more to do with people wanting healthier options and many are looking at plant based diets and it is here to stay. We thought we would make 15 every two weeks, now we are making 15 every 4 days. Admittedly it is slightly cheaper on the menu, but only marginally.
Before lockdown we had started developing a vegetarian burger that was doing well but needed some further development, in the end we then outsourced the burger due to some consistency issues. During lockdown I spent weeks making batch after batch of vegetarian burgers until we settled on a mushroom and black bean burger that worked and was the right texture that was not dry, that was not made up of only beans and had the right amount of softness and moisture.
The challenge is always making sure everything binds well without adding loads of flour or bread. We managed to make the mushroom burger gluten free which ended up a being a bonus.
The biggest issue was that we did not want a vegetarian burger that reminded us of meat, but rather celebrate the vegetable.
We use a sunflower dressing and hummus in the final assembly and use cider glazed onion and a sweet and sour basting sauce. What we did find is that many guests still ask for a mature cheddar instead of the vegan cheese.

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Warm Pickled Fish with Jacopever

IMG_5497 (2)

Easter and pickled fish always bring back old memories as a trainee working buckets and buckets of pickled fish. Previously I had shared a pickled fish recipe . The recipe is simple, coating the fish in flour then egg wash and straight into the deep fryer. Then into sweet and sour slightly spicy pickling sauce. I had received some Jacopever and was experimenting a couple of dishes from ceviche to whole roasted Jacopever served on tacos, these recipes will be published later. But I simply had to eat a favourite and the pickled fish still had to be warm on a warm toasted bun with lettuce and tomato. Warm and comforting.

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Fedhasa Cape Sustainable Restaurant Cook-off Champion 2019

The Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) recently challenged members to a cook off in partnership with WWF-SASSI in a mystery box cook-off that was held at Cape Town Hotel School in Granger Bay.

We have championed sustainable fish choices for years, it has been a challenge we have had with ourselves, at one point I asked SASSI to remove me form their trailblazer list, as we could not follow the list 100%. We made mistakes, not often, but we felt guilty. After discussions with SASSI our minds were put to rest, as it is not following the list 100%, but rather working at making better choices over all, educating others in making better choices. We are still saddened when we see all the crayfish leave or shores to foreign destinations, tourism suffers from this.

In our kitchen we have adopted the same traffic light system used by SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) instead of following the guidelines by SASSI our policy and guidelines provide guidance in terms of how much green, orange or red listed species we are allowed to buy in a calendar year. It also gives us guidance in how much fish may be imported. We have included the importance of buying only MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) approved suppliers if we buy from abroad.

Within our guidelines we have given ourselves room for mistakes, as species are sometimes mistakenly labelled, we have also in the past used fish when we have had no other choices from the red list, but we have within our policy allowed for less than one percent of our yearly purchases for this.

The objective for the cook off that was to create awareness around sustainable food choices and to cook creatively with using basic ingredients supplied. Chefs are the driving force in making the decision on what is placed on menus, these choices ultimately influence consumers. If consumers are informed, then chefs will make better choices.
With this cook off each captain was given a team of chefs they have never worked with before and a challenging selection of fish to work with, frozen hake, frozen half shell mussels, frozen calamari rings, frozen sliced smoked salmon. Initially we were thrown by the frozen selection, but then the thought downed on me, what if this is the only choices we have in the future…
With only 45min we were given the task of coming up with a great dish showcasing our talents but also highlighting sustainable choices.
As we did not know each other, you do not know the strengths of the members, we were lucky as our team quickly established duties and tasks, we clicked and we could decide on a basic menu and strategy.
As the items were previously frozen we had to come up with a dish that would mask the frozen fish.
For the hake we made a flavoured brine with fennel, pepper corns and ginger. The hake was left to brine for 10 minutes before dusting the skin in flour and sesame and pan frying in butter with garlic, ginger and chili.
The mussels were removed from the shells and added to a curry sauce with calamari and offcuts of hake. The smoked salmon was mixed with spinach, cream cheese and put into a tortellini and tossed in butter to finish.TEAM SASSI FEDHASASASSI FEDHASA COOK OFF

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WASTED 9 – Smoked Trout Cheese Cake


I have previously touched on the waste of fish as well as trout. This is an extension of some further investigation with a lot of trials. We have some beautiful farmed seatrout from the west coast, as we have a fair amount of flesh left after filleting. We started looking at different options, previously we used the meat we scraped of the bones for a tartare.

We have smoked the fish of cuts before but needed an idea where the fish could be used not in small amounts, but all of it. We needed an application where the demand would be greater than the waste produced. In this recipe we cured the fish on the bone then smoked it on the bone, removing the meat after it has cooled. 

At the same time we were working different ideas for afternoon tea, we were looking at adding a second fish item to the savoury selection. As the marriage between cream cheese and smoked salmon works well, the idea for a savoury cheeses cake started. Not something new as there are many recipes using the prime cut of hot smoked salmon or cold smoked salmon. The application of using off cuts off hot smoked trout pieces made a lot of sense, nice looking pieces are not required as it would be flaked into the mix before baking.

Hot smoked trout and dill cheesecake was introduced onto the savoury tea selection!

In the picture we I also looked at the possibility for a starter in the future with fennel, capers and dune spinach.


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The Golden Vine Award at De Wetshof and the Celebration of Chardonnay, 9 November 2018.

Every second year we look forward to a day of chardonnay, it is not an ordinary day because everything else gets cancelled to ensure attendance, and only a hand full of people get invited from the food and wine industry.

The day is filled with celebration, and for good reason, chardonnay of course.

Two years ago I had one of the best tasting experiences ever, as the part of that day older vintages were celebrated. With a 1997 Thelema Chardonnay and a 1993 De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay, these did not only stand out, they were notable because these wines aged beautifully and tasted far beyond my expectation. These wines still showed freshness and complexity.

I could not wait to return.


Tanya Liebenberg, Danie De Wet, Louise Jardine, Wine Fairy, Rudi Liebenberg and George Jardine

This year was no different as the panel of wine makers each shared stories about the vine, the soil and chardonnay. We tasted fantastic chardonnays with the panel going through four flights for breakfast. With stories of the Judgement of Paris from key note speaker Steven Spurrier, this was a highlight, the man is a legend. We then continued with the remaining 28 chardonnay choices for lunch. The problem is that one never gets to taste all.

This year was made even more special as I was the recipient of the 2018 Golden Vine Award, an honour bestowed on a leading South African chef during the De Wetshof Celebration of Chardonnay. Awarded to a chef for his or her contribution to the country’s cuisine in the food and wine legacy.

I am humbled by this award and being associated with the De Wetshof family as well as the celebration of chardonnay with good food.

Johann De Wet with Rudi Liebenberg

Johann De Wet with Rudi Liebenberg

“Since the advent of the Celebration of Chardonnay 14 years ago, the Golden Vine Award has become known as one of the industry’s leading honours. To have it bestowed on at one of the country’s leading wine events is a highlight in my career.”

Previous recipients of the Golden Vine include Garth Stroebel, Luke Dale-Roberts, Peter Veldsman and Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen.


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WASTED 8 – Cauliflower Tempura


Cauliflower Stalks, ribs and leaves

Cauliflower Stalks, ribs and leaves

We will always have enough cauliflower off cuts to have a dedicated menu for just “the cauliflower”
As cauliflower likes to be fried this was going to be easy, lightly salted in tempura batter crispy fried. Some of the pieces are going to be stringy…but that is also ok.
Served with a slice of lemon and home made roasted garlic aioli.

Cauliflower Tempura

Cauliflower leaves
Cauliflower ribs cut into strips
Cauliflower stalks sliced thinly

Simple batter
4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp rice flour
Salt/Pepper as needed
Soda water as needed (ice cold)

Cauliflower Tempura

Cauliflower Tempura



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Mothers Day in Oasis

Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast In Oasis

Give mother the day off, this Sunday at the Oasis buffet we have almost everything needed to make sure mom, gran do not have to lift a finger, catering for all tastes. Starting with a cold buffet that has fresh oysters, prawns, smoked salmon and sushi. The salad selection is vast with lots including options to create one own Caesar with excess the way one normally would. Mediterranean mezze, tarts and charcuterrie for all tastes.
On the hot buffet we have the essential fix with Yorkshire pudding with that all time Sunday favourite, Mike Maliti’s oxtail, with roast lamb and beef, to make sure we leave very little for dessert. And if there is space waffles with ice cream or strawberry pavlova.
And if you must some warm malva pudding with some more ice cream to round the afternoon off. or 021 483 1948

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Greek Style Roast Leg of Lamb

Lamb leg

Greek Style Roast Leg Of Lamb, Photo Credit

This recipe is done by Chef Jaco who has been with me for many years, currently looking after the Banqueting operation at the hotel. What makes this recipe great the lemon and tomato, giving the lamb that smack for more. We prefer removing the lamb from refrigerator a hour before roasting to bring to room temperature. Adding more garlic is optional and advised. This Recipe was first published as part of an Easter recipe compilation for crushmag-online

Basting Sauce
5 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt & black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
juice of 4-6 lemons
250 ml olive oil
6 tomatoes, grated

2-2.5 kg leg of lamb
5 cloves garlic, sliced into quarters
15-20 sprigs rosemary
mirepoix (1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 2 sticks celery, 1 leek cleaned and sliced)
3 tomatoes, diced
10-12 baby potatoes
250 ml water

Preheat the oven to 180 °C

While the oven is preheating make the basting sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

Turn the heat down to 165 °C.

Make small incisions in the flesh of the lamb on both sides. Insert the garlic slices into the incisions.
Season the lamb leg well with salt, pepper and baste.
Place the leg of lamb on a bed of rosemary, the mirepoix and the diced tomato. Roast for 1.5 hours, turning and basting the lamb every half hour.

Scatter the baby potatoes around the lamb and pour in the water. Add a little more water if it becomes too dry.
Finish at 190 °C for about 20 minutes. If you enjoy your lamb a little extra well done, cook for an additional half hour.

When the lamb is cooked, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10-12 minutes before carving.

Photo Credit

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