Vecepia Baowery

Main, Poultry, Street Food, Survivor: Marquesas

Just like the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3, I’m about to be back, back, back, back, back again on a remote(ish) island in Fiji to cook-up some culinary commiserations for the 19 soon to be losers and 39 days, one sole survivor, of Survivor: Ghost Island. As has now become traditional, I am counting down to the premiere by spending time with past victors. And we’re kicking things off with one of my favourites – Vecepia Towery.

Now hold up – did I desperately want Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien to take out Marquesas? Without a doubt. But does that take away from the low-key brilliance that was Vecepia’s win, the likes of which we had never seen up until that point? No.

I mean, not even the kite flying challenge could diminish my love of the underrated Marquesas.

Not only did Vecepia land on the worst tribe in Survivor history at that point, but she overcame a three-seven disadvantage at the merge to lead (with Sean and Kathy, yes) the first ever shake-up in Survivor, rallying the minority to turn on the majority and overthrow the game. For that alone, you can’t count out Vecepia. Particularly when you take into account the journal she kept, that helped her snatch victory in the fallen comrades challenge.

Anyway, as you should probably have guessed by now, V is one of my dearest friends and I will defend her to the end of the earth. Knowing that, she was thrilled to answer my call and drop-by to honour the 36th season of the show … which Marquesas kind of set up to become what it is.

We laughed, we cried, we strategised about ways to get more people from early seasons brought back for returning player seasons and most importantly, we absolutely annihilated some four-weeks-to-go Vecepia Baowery.

 

 

I love me some bao buns. So, so, much. And these spicy little numbers do nothing to reduce said love. Spicy, sweet and a bun slathered in white creamy goodness? Perfection.

Enjoy!

 

 

Vecepia Baowery
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece ginger, sliced
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 long red chillies, chopped
½ cup Chinese rice wine
⅓ cup dark soy sauce
1L chicken stock
4 chicken thighs
½ cup rice flour
2 tsp Chinese five-spice
vegetable oil
8 buns and the cucumber from Bret LaBao Buns
½ red capsicum, thinly sliced
small handful of coriander leaves, to taste
kewpie mayo, to taste

Method
Prep your buns and cucumber as per Bretty’s recipe.

Place the garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, chillies, rice wine, soy and stock in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil, reducing heat to low when rollicking. Add the chicken and simmer for twenty minutes or so. Remove and allow to cool before cutting across the thigh into short 1 inch wide strips.

Combine the rice flour and five spice in a bowl and toss through the cooled pieces of chicken to coat. Place enough vegetable oil to fill a pot up to 1cm and place over a high heat. When shimmery and starting to get that weird dancing appearance, reduce heat to medium and add half the chicken, cooking for a couple of minutes – flipping once – until they’re gloriously crisp. Remove to a paper towel and repeat the process.

To assemble, spread open your buns, slather with some kewpie, top with cucumber, capsicum, chicken, more kewpie and some coriander. Devour immediately.

 

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Joe Del Campho

Main, Soup, Survivor: Kaôh Rōng

Yeah, yeah – previously on Survivor, Jason couldn’t pull off the impossible and was sent to Ponderosa despite everyone in the alliance trying to turn on each other. But this episode, seriously? Again! Another freaking medevac!?

Poor little Joey, Joe-Joe aka Rudy 2.0 found himself experiencing some severe #GastrointestinalDistress and was swiftly pulled from the game in fifth place. Confirming to Tai that, despite his fears, he goes home with his idol in his pocket.

Game, set, match editors – well played!

Anyway, let’s rewind. We got back to camp and again Joe spoke, before Michelle and Tai butted heads over Tai’s late-game villain turn after he once again flipped on his alliance for the third time.

We then headed straight to reward where Joe shocked everyone and won the reward, proving that slow and steady wins the race, and ended his anti-Anglim streak in the process.

Damn straight he #GetsItDoneAt71!

I first connected with Joe about four decades ago when we worked for the FBI together. Joe is an absolute gentleman and acted like a mentor to me, despite my questionable relationship with the law.

We stayed close throughout the years – despite my many scandals, arrests and stints in rehab – and Joe has remained a constant in my life and has always tried to help me be the best version of me. Could you imagine how bad I would have been without him?

Anyway, poor little Joe overindulged in the delicious meat at his Hef reward, despite not being a big meat guy, and sadly that was his downfall.

We heard all about Cydney upping her game (by downplaying the fact that she could literally crush everyone left in the game), Joe, Cyd and Aubry formed a final three alliance, Tai and Michelle joined forces, Aubry and Tai reconnected while Michelle and Cydney solidified their bond … all for nothing after Joe was done in, I assume, by an extreme case of meat sweats!

Having zero respect for the fact that he was just medically evacuated for stomach issues – and the fact that he is 71, to boot – I decided to go with a (potentially) digestively aggressive Joe Del Campho to welcome him to post-hospital Ponderosa.

 

joe-del-campho-1

 

In my defense, pho was Joe and my go to meal after cracking a case / defeating the bad-guys / whatever it is we did in the FBI back in the day (I was way too high to remember those days) – it was to us, what shawarma is to the avengers, you know?

So yeah, onion, par cooked-meat and chilli isn’t a good thing on paper – but it was the ultimate comfort food for my dear old friend. Despite that, the fresh flavours, delicately cooked meat and the kick of heat and lime work together to bring you a pho that dances in your mouth.

Plus, ginger is good for you … so there is that, right? Enjoy!

 

joe-del-campho-2

 

Joe Del Campho
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
5 cups beef stock
3cm piece ginger, finely grated
2 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
cinnamon quill
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
dried pho noodles, softened in boiling water for a couple of minutes
250g beef sirloin, finely sliced across the grain
1 onion, finely sliced
4 shallots, green part only, finely sliced
⅓ cup chopped coriander
black pepper
lime wedges, to serve
sliced chillies, to serve
Thai basil leaves, to serve
bean sprouts, to serve
sriracha sauce

Method
Place stock, ginger, spices, fish sauce, soy sauce and 2 cups of cold water in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Place a handful of pho noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to rest until cooked through or about fifteen minutes, drain and leave to rest.

Thinly slice the steak – it helps if you freeze it for about 20 minutes before.

Remove the spices from the stock mixture with a slotted spoon.

To serve, place pho noodles in the bottom of a bowl, layer the raw steak and onion over the top and cover generously with the piping hot stock. Season generously and sprinkle on some coriander.

To eat, season to taste with lime juice and chilli and add in some basil and sprouts. As I like heat and disregard Joe’s health, I topped it up generously with some sriracha.

The heat may have got things moving?

 

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