As Elton once said, "we remembered when rock was young"…………….a month or two ago we only offered hot rock prawns and hot rock clams, and with summer coming, we've just increased the hot-rock menu to five different items – clams, crocodile, squid and two types of prawn dish.
Most guests who stay with us try a hot rock dish and a nitrogen ice cream at least once during their stay, if not more.
It's a pretty impressive experience -a fierce jet of aromatic steam rattling the trolley as it bastes the contents with heat, taste and moisture. You wait, mouth watering, the scent bathing the table like an ethereal foodie sauna.
We have found a great supplier for fresh, farmed crocodile meat.
They are a little out of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), so the product is pretty much on tap – great quality fillet or tail meat, hygiene certified, available the next day after ordering.
Crocodile meat and fat is similar to pork in texture. Perhaps the meat is more a cross between pork and chicken.
It's important to cut across the grain to maintain tenderness.
We like to slice the croc into pieces around 1cm thick – for best texture and taste.
Next we need to grind some black peppercorns.
Do yourself a favour: Check out the difference in smell between a few peppercorns smashed RIGHT NOW in a mortar and pestle, vs. ground pepper that has been sitting in a jar or bowl.
Wow! Big difference
So crush or grind pepper freshly for this dish…..and any others where a fresh burst of pepper is a desired flavour profile.
We marinate the crocodile with coconut milk, fresh ground black pepper, and a little Vietnamese (or Thai) fish sauce.
Again, spend time getting a tasty young coconut to work with.
A lot of coconuts can be boring or tasteless. Coconuts change according to species, location, age.
If the water inside your young coconut is tasteless, consider using a canned, frozen or packaged young coconut juice which may have better aroma.
Alternatively, a mature coconut may have a better taste.
The peeled baby Thai coconuts are full of water and normally taste great. Use those if you can.
The meat inside is sweet and gelatinous too. Great to eat.
Prepare the aromats for steaming.
We'll be using:
- Young coconut water (the juice from inside young Asian coconuts)
- Fresh pandanus leaves (also known as screw pine)
- Thai Kaffir lime leaves
- The marinated crocodile fillet
Now the exciting bit.
The rocks must be heated until they are glowing. A superheated air-blown wok burner is perfect for this.
When the stones are red hot, the dish and all ingredients are wheeled out to the guest, and the croc is cooked.
First step is to lay the aromats (pandanus, kaffir lime) over the rocks, then lay the coconut crocodile on top.
Quickly pour over the young coconut water and shut the lid.
This will take between 3.4 to 4 minutes to cook through.
We recommend serving with homemade sweet chilli sauce and some fresh accompaniments.
We chose carrot, fresh coconut julienne and local basil.
Try out something different – and enjoy a feast of tender, succulent, steamed crocodile.