- Contemporary Australian restaurant Salted & Hung has always been about nose-to-tail dining. Since opening nearly four years ago, chef Drew Nocente has introduced cured sausages, charcuteries and unusual offerings like deep-fried tripe to drive home the philosophy.
- Now, he has gone on to the next stage of this no-waste approach and put in place a more sustainable menu that took months to plan. There’s no discrimination over what can be used; the only discerning factor is flavour — lots of it — and all of these can be found in the discarded bits and pieces of what we eat.
- That’s right, Salted & Hung is serving up bones and shells and guess what? We love it.
Picking at bones and making them edible
It took Nocente a good few months to figure out how fish bones, prawn shells and leftovers from mise en place can be used in dishes. The punchy essence from shells and bones are drawn out to create savoury broths while vegetables are pickled and or used as sauces in some dishes. Little goes to waste for this menu, though it doesn’t necessarily mean using lesser produce for Nocente. After all the amount of bones and shells he gets is commensurate with the amount of produce he brings in, Nocente explains.
A compact menu with great ideas
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Salted & Hung’s latest menu is a simpler format of snacks, small plates, Josper grills and sides. If you can’t decide how to go about the one-page menu — we won’t blame you, there are a lot of interesting options to explore — let Nocente decide a series of dishes to have at $88 per person.
Feeling snacky? Try this luxurious take on a kueh pie tee
You’ll find the restaurant’s signature deep-fried tripe and house charcuteries on this section. Give the new small bites a chance, such as the Uni & Caviar Tart. The mini ‘kueh pie tee’ shells are filled with fresh ocean flavours: piped with an umami kelp cream, then topped with a tongue of fresh Bafun uni and sake-soaked trout roe.
If you’ve never had blood sausage, try the arancini. The deep-fried riceballs are a lot easier on the eye than black pudding. Each bite is topped with a dollop of intensely earthy black garlic cream.
Crab – apple kombucha and white radish
Besides going ‘minimal wastage’, Nocente has been experimenting with fermentation as well. He has vats of apple kombucha fermenting in the kitchen and features it in his refreshing crab appetiser. The sweet, juicy flesh of Australian spanner crab comes with ribbons of lemon-compressed Nashi pear and pickled daikon. The carbonation from the kombucha, which is poured over the dish, adds a crisp touch to this light dish.
What does kangaroo taste like?
Some who’ve tried kangaroo would complain that its too gamey, so Nocente has sourced something more ‘acceptable’. While we personally love our gamey meats, the kangaroo loin used is certainly easy on the palette — a beefy cut with a little irony flavour. The lean protein is simply charred and seasoned with pastrami spices. We also get our first look at Nocente’s no-waste take with vegetables. Beetroot here is done three ways, pickled, dehydrated as chips and as an earthy-sweetish glaze over the kangaroo.
Quail – chilli and quail reduction
Don’t judge this bird by its small appearance: this dish packs a punch. Nocente carefully picks out the bones, plumps it up with a stuffing of housemade sausage seasoned with tangy chicken rice chilli and left in the Josper oven to work its magic. The small bones are then used for a savoury reduction poured over the bird. We say ditch the fork and go caveman-style on this dish with your hands — it’s easier to strip every bit of roasted flesh this way.
The piece de resistance: Grouper with infused soy, charcoal and fermented prawn butter
If you want to taste the full extent of Nocente’s culinary evolution, this is the dish to go for. Nocente seamlessly weaves in a mass of creativity onto one plate, unlocking the rich flavours in fish bones in several ways. It’s rendered into a broth, baked together with koji-marinated grouper. It’s roasted, infused in soya sauce, dehydrated and blitzed into crumbs for an additional flavour boost. Prawn shells, left from another dish on the menu, is reused and made into an aromatic butter.
Our favourite: Lamb Char Siew – radish and scallions
Of all the dishes we’ve tried, it is the lamb char siew that left the deepest impression on us. Surprisingly, the milky flavour in lamb fat and char siew sauce is a match made in heaven. Nocente’s shown a lot of love for this dish, allowing the meat to marinate in char siew for five days and afterwards left to sous-vide for another ten hours. Those 130-plus hours invested in this dish was truly worthwhile, leaving a soft and robust lamb.
For dessert: a humble breakfast treat?
Jam on Toast doesn’t sound or look like much, we give you that. But, this is a must-order. Nocente makes a thick, malty ice cream with sourdough culture and serves this with a bed of brown butter crumbs. He goes for a topping of fermented strawberries, a comforting jam-like concoction offering just a slight touch of sweetness.
Tuesday to Friday
11:30am – 2:30pm, 6:00pm – 10:30pm
11:30am – 4:00pm, 6:00pm – 10:30pm
11:30am – 4:00pm
$88+ per person