Stemming from its British Colonial heritage, culinary culture in New Zealand has long been characterized by straightforward fodder such as steak and fries, fish and chips and baked meats. However, driven by the demands of increasingly sophisticated tourists to the region and influenced by both Asian and Pacific flavors, New Zealand cuisine has quickly evolved to cater to gourmet tastes. Today’s New Zealand menus combine the incredibly fresh produce, meat and seafood with an eclectic mix of indigenous plants and exotic vegetables to create complex, flavorful dishes.
For a sample of New Zealand cuisine at home, try this recipe handpicked by one of the consultant chefs from Air New Zealand and currently available on all flights originating from North America.
New Zealand Glazed Snapper and Arugula Salad with Vanilla Saffron Aioli
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
12 baby gourmet potatoes
4 medium fillets of fresh snapper
1 cup fresh arugula
Place tomatoes on a tray of rock salt in the oven at 320° F and roast until skins begin to split.
Remove from oven and keep warm. Slice potatoes into thin slices and pan fry in olive oil with sea salt till golden and crispy.
In a large pan, fry the snapper (sprinkled with sea salt) skin-side-down until golden. Turn the fillets over to finish cooking the fish. To stop the fillets from curling up, use a fish slice to press down on the fillets as soon as they go in the pan. Hold for 20 seconds at the start.
Toss arugula in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of New Zealand or regular extra-virgin olive oil.
Arrange potato slices on warmed dinner plates and squeeze “circles” of vanilla saffron aioli around the potatoes. Place snapper on top with arugula and roast tomato to the side. Brush with lemon caramel and serve while hot.
Vanilla Saffron Aioli
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground New Zealand or regular saffron
1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 egg yolk
6 oz. grape seed oil
Boil the vinegar and saffron together. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and rub the seeds into fine salt. If using vanilla extract, skip this step. In a bowl, whisk vanilla salt or extract onto the yolk, whisk in vinegar and slowly add in the oil, whisking well. Place in a bottle until ready to use. This makes it easy to serve and will keep in the fridge for up to four days.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Boil sugar, water and salt till golden caramel in color. Remove from the heat and cool slightly before carefully stirring in the lemon juice. Use a pastry brush to coat the snapper fillets.
This authentic New Zealand dish can help spice up your menu.