Haar At Home
Last weekend Neil and I tried a different cook at home meal. This one was prepared by Masterchef the Professionals finalist from last year Dean Banks. His restaurant is based up in St Andrews, Scotland but fortunately delivers nationwide, allowing for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to his restaurant to sample his food, a bonus of corona I guess.
His restaurant, Haar, named after the fog that blows in from the North Sea, is as you might guess, seafood focused. I make no secret of how much I love seafood but am limited to what I can prepare, so when I see I can get fresh lobster and crab prepared and ready to cook/eat, delivered to my door, I’m definitely interested. There are several menu boxes to choose from on his website and for last week, Neil and I opted for the 2 course ‘land and sea’ box. This meant we received an Asian lobster salad for starter, followed by a rib eye steak in an XO sauce with roasted new potatoes and tenderstem broccoli. We also received a fresh loaf of bread and the option to add extras, such as dressed crab, which I inevitably did as I’m a sucker for crab.
Early last Friday morning my box arrived and I excitedly unpacked it. Fortunately everything was pretty much self explanatory, so I was able to correctly identify it all. Unlike the boxes for both Simon Wood and Adam Reid, where the elements of each dish were packaged together, in this one they were all separate with all the smaller items and sauces in one pack together. Once I figured this out, it was fairly simple. We did need to read the labels to identify which seasoning was for the steak and which was for the broccoli, but that was all. Thankfully the labels were clear enough for Neil to read with his magnifier.
Accessing the cooking instructions was also straightforward. After a little searching I found them already up on the Haar at Home website, which was helpful. We also tried a new method to help keep us on track by using an app on our phones called Seeing AI, which takes a photo of the printed instructions and then converts it in to text, which I can then read with my screen reader on my phone. Technology is amazing these days, when it works. The instructions were really simple, nothing complicated this time, nothing too scary or new to attempt and definitely requiring fewer pans than the Adam Reid experience. Definitely a bonus.
In fact the lobster starter required no cooking at all. Simply divide the salad between 2 plates, top with the already prepared and cooked lobster, squeeze over the lime and drizzle over the dressing. Even Neil could have done this one on his own.
The main required a little more cooking. Sear the steak, baste in butter, then finish off in the oven. Roast the new potatoes for 30 minutes and roast the broccoli for 10. Finally warm the XO sauce through on the hob. The trickiest part was working out all the timings to ensure everything was ready at the same point, but thankfully I got it spot on.
The only alien thing to me on this menu was the XO sauce and purely because I had never heard of it before and didn’t know what it was. When smelling it, it smelled very meaty and rich, so I presumed it was a stock based sauce. When turning to google for answers I discovered it is a staple in cantonese cooking, originating from Hong Kong. It is a mix of seafood such as shrimp and scallops, and meat, typically ham, blended with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chilli, brown sugar and other spices. I don’t think this one is your typical XO sauce as it wasn’t spicy or thick and jam like, which it was described as, but it was very rich and moreish and perfectly complimented the steak.
A lot of what Dean Banks seems to cook is Asian inspired. We thoroughly enjoyed watching him cook throughout Masterchef and are delighted to have been able to actually sample his cooking. The starter was very fresh and light, while the main was very rich, the perfect contrast. His portion sizes were very generous, creating a very filling and delicious meal. We enjoyed the fresh bread that came with it for lunch with our extra dressed crab, boiled eggs and avocado. We definitely ate well that day.
I was really impressed with my Haar at Home experience. While I didn’t learn any new cooking skills with this one, I did get to try something new to taste. The cooking and preparation of this one was the easiest and least stressful of the three I have done so far and so is the one I am most likely to go back to again. Dean has just updated his selection on his website and there are now several new ones to try. I am seriously tempted by the Goan lobster box, which comes with 2 whole dressed lobsters in a Goan curry sauce. Perhaps this will be next weeks fancy meal, unless anyone can recommend anything else?
Thank you for reading and speak soon