Chui Lee Luk worked most recently at the now-closed Chinese restaurant, Chow Bar and Eating House on Crown Street and before that, she was at Claude’s; so the influences she brings to Berta are diverse. That’s not to say she’s not sticking with Italian. “Italian is one of my favourite cuisines to eat during my down time and it's a great chance to explore as many aspects of the great food culture as I can while I'm at Berta,” says Lee Luk. It’s not Lee Luk’s first time cooking Italian either; in fact it all started with spaghetti. “I started out in the Italian place that used to be in the Armani store and really enjoyed the improvisational nature and ingredient-centred way Italian cuisine can be,” she says.


Beef Short Ribs

Serves 6

Marinade
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp aniseed
¼ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp dill seeds
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp hot smoked paprika, ground chilli or cayenne
2 cloves garlic
2 cloves garlic
4kg beef short ribs, keep whole
2 litres beef stock

Toast all the spices in the oven at 160°C for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Crush in a mortar and pestle and add garlic, crush further into a paste and rub over the meat. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

Bring the stock to the boil and pour it over the marinated beef so that it covers three quarters of it in an ovenproof baking dish or casserole dish. Cover with foil and place in the oven for a three hours at 160°C. Take off the cover and cook until it reaches your desired tenderness. For it to reach fall-apart tenderness, it will take six hours or so. Take the meat out of the stock and let cool then cut into individual ribs.

Glaze
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
100ml vincotto
50ml extra virgin olive oil
50ml marsala
1 tsp crushed black pepper

Puree all the ingredients. Adjust consistency if necessary so that the glaze clings to the ribs. Brush the glaze on so it coats the beef. Place the painted beef in the oven at 190°C for about 10 minutes.

Agrodolce
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150ml extra virgin olive oil
100g dried currants or raisins
100ml red wine
100ml red-wine vinegar
50g pine nuts, toasted
2 tbs brown sugar
Salt, black pepper
Nasturtium leaves, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a braising pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, bay leaf and the ground cinnamon. Cook onions until very soft. Add the sugar and raisins, season with some salt and black pepper. Add the red wine and let the mixture reduce to nothing and then repeat with the red-wine vinegar. Taste to see that the mixture is salty, sour and sweet and add the toasted pine nuts. Adjust seasoning accordingly.

Serve room temperature or warm with the short ribs. Use large nasturtium leaves to wrap pieces of beef with a little relish.