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Chef Challenge - Brad Simpson

Welcome to another year of Chef Challenges. These monthly happenings in the Blanco Kitchen are an opportunity for chefs from some of Melbourne’s top restaurants to show us what they’re cooking when they’ve scored a night off and how to use fresh Market produce.  Today we had Brad Simpson.

With only half an hour to shop in the market and then 45 minutes to cook up a couple of midweek meal options, the chefs are put under the same pressures we may find ourselves facing on a daily (market day) basis.

Many of them choose to shop at Prahran regularly, which comes as no surprise, so it’s also a chance to hear, straight from the culinary horse’s mouth, which stalls reign supreme.

This month’s contender, Brad Simpson, is from a restaurant that’s about as local as they get – hailing from just down High Street Prahran at The Smith .

Known for its Mod-Oz vibe with a touch of Pan-Asia (not to be confused with Panem) the food here is actually experiencing a bit of nip and tuck as we speak, with the kitchen going full Pan-Asian.
According to Brad, allowing for flavours from across South-East Asia means that rules go out the window. Why not mix Vietnamese mint and Shaoxing wine? If it tastes good, just do it! And, believe it or not, it did, indeed taste good – great in fact.

Here’s what happened when Brad Simpson went full Pan-Asian on the Edible Adventures stage (in recipe form):

Silken tofu with marinated mushrooms by Brad Simpson.


1 packet Organic silken tofu
1 punnet Oyster mushrooms
1 punnet Shitake mushrooms
1 punnet Black fungi
1 Large red chilli

For the marinade…
150ml Chinese black vinegar
50ml Shaoxing wine
75ml Light soy sauce
2 tbsp Caster sugar
75ml Sesame oil


  1. Slice and tear up the mushrooms and place in a bowl with the chopped up chilli.
  2. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil.
  3. Pour liquid over the mushrooms, cover with clingwrap and leave to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Dice the tofu into bite size pieces, spoon the mushrooms over the top and garnish with some fresh coriander leaves

Pan roasted prawns with green mango salad.


8 Large fresh king prawns

(Remove shells and de vein but keep the heads on)
1 Continental cucumber
2 Green Mangoes
1 Carrot
Coriander leaves, picked
Vietnamese mint leaves, picked

For the dressing…
3 Large red chillies
2 Garlic cloves
1 small piece Ginger
2 tbsp. Palm sugar
Fish sauce (to taste)
Lime juice (to taste)


  1. Roughly chop the chilli, garlic & ginger.
  2. Transfer to a mortar and pestle. Bash the ingredients to a paste.
  3. Add the palm sugar and mix until dissolved.
  4. Season with lime juice and fish sauce. The dressing should taste sweet, salty, sour & hot.
  5. Peel the cucumber, carrot and green mango and julienne, grate or slice (its up to you). Mix through the freshly picked herbs. Leave to the side.
  6. Season the prawns with sea salt and cook in either a non sick pan or on the BBQ.
  7. Using a moderate heat, the prawns should take around 3 minutes per side (depending on size).
  8. Place the cooked prawns on to a beautiful sharing platter and scatter the green mango salad over the top.
  9. Take the dressing and give it a quick stir. Splash it over the prawns and the salad.

Kung Pao Chicken

The sauce

200ml Hoi Sin sauce
200ml Light Soy sauce
3 tbsp Caster sugar
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
2 tbsp chilli flakes
3 Garlic cloves
1 knob Ginger
2 Shallots
100ml Black vinegar


  1. Slice the shallots, garlic and ginger and caramelise in a pot with a little sesame oil.
  2. Add the soy, hoisin, sugar and bring to the simmer.
  3. In a dry pan, cook off the szechuan pepper and chilli flakes until fragrant.
  4. Smash in a mortar and pestle and add to the hoisin mix.
  5. Leave to tick over for 20 mins.
  6. Season with the black vinegar to taste.

The chicken:

4 Diced chicken breasts
3 Sliced spring onions
Sprinkle of Chilli flakes
100g Toasted Cashews


  1. In a wok with a little oil cook off the chicken breast. This will take about 6 minutes.
  2. Pour over the sauce and combine so all of the chicken is coated.
  3. At this point you can add any vegetables you see fit. I suggest a few green beans, diced carrot and spring onion.
  4. Place in a large serving dish. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, cashews and some torn coriander leaves.
  5. Serve with rice or crispy noodles.
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