Octopus, Tomato, Tatsoi at The Kitchen at Maison

Words: Jess Spiro

Things are happening at The Kitchen at Maison – masterful head chef, Arno Janse van Rensburg, is unveiling a new menu. But this is not just any new menu; this is chef Arno’s heart and soul on a plate, a tasting experience of sorts. The philosophy behind the food is a simple one, to keep everything pared-back. He’s stripping away the nonsense and the superfluous, and is offering up a menu that is honest, unpretentious and interesting. Pair together a number of dishes and enjoy the menu to its fullest. But be quick in getting there though, as The Kitchen at Maison Estate uses only the freshest local ingredients and allow that to inspire their menu, meaning it changes along with the seasons and weather.

We managed to nab a sneak peek at this bold new menu, as well as a few words with chef Arno, too. Here, he introduces his dish of Octopus, Tomato and Tatsoi. Read a little about his thought process behind the dish and then go on to recreate it yourself.
Crush: What was the inspiration behind the Octopus, Tomato, Tatsoi dish?
Arno: This is a classic combination, the tomato and octopus. The chewy, but soft ,texture of the octopus is something that we really enjoy using. The octopus in itself is quite rich in flavor, so the tomato’s acidity is utilized to balance it.

Crush: Tatsoi is an unusual ingredient, can you tell us a bit about this?
Arno: We are growing this slightly peppery leaf in our gardens on the farm. It’s picked fresh every day to keep the best flavor.Octopus

Octopus, Tomato, Tatsoi, with a Lemon Dressing

Serves: 4
Difficulty: a little effort
Prep time:  30 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes

Lemon dressing
1/3 C (80 ml) lemon juice
4 tsp (20 ml) honey
4 tsp (20 ml) Dijon mustard
1 1/4 C (300 ml) canola oil
1 tsp (5 ml) Xanthan gum
salt and pepper

Tomato atchar
10 g onion, very finely chopped
1 clove (4 g) garlic, very finely chopped
4 g (small piece) ginger, very finely chopped
butter, small knob for frying
2 packets tomato paste
1/3 C paprika powder
100 g plum tomatoes
1/3 C (80 ml) red wine
3 Tbsp (45 ml) mustard seeds
1 C (250 ml) apple cider vinegar

300 g octopus, see note
1 small onion, halved
4 g (small piece) ginger
1 clove garlic
4 g (small pinch) dried thyme
About 8 white peppercorns
2 bay leaves

To serve
a small handful of tatsoi

Lemon dressing
Mix the lemon juice, honey and mustard in a food processor and then slowly add the canola oil. Turn speed to high and blend in the Xanthan gum for 2 minutes. Taste and check seasoning.

Tomato atchar
Fry off the onion, garlic and ginger in a little bit of butter until soft. In a separate frying pan, add a small knob of butter and fry off the tomato paste and paprika until dark and roasted. Add to the softened onions, along with the chopped tomatoes, red wine, mustard seeds and vinegar. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook gently for about 1 hour, until the flavours have developed and the atchar has reduced to a thicker consistency.

While the atchar is cooking, get the octopus on. Place the octopus into a large saucepan with the onion, ginger, garlic, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaves and add enough water to just cover the octopus. Pop the lid on the saucepan and gently simmer until tender. This could take anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes. Check the tenderness with a knife. Remove from the cooking liquid and slice into four portions.

To serve
Divide the atchar between 4 plates, placing on the plate in a quenelle shape. Place the octopus alongside the atchar and drizzle with a little lemon dressing. Scatter with a few tatsoi leaves and drizzle with a little more of the lemon dressing.

Note: You can order octopus from your local fishmonger, ask them to clean it off viscera and remove the eyes and beak. If you request a specific weight, they will portion it for you too.

To make a reservation for this special new menu, call  021 876 2116 or visit the website for online bookings.
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