Peter Conistis' legendary moussaka of eggplant, seared scallops and tarama is well known to those who have followed the "Godfather of modern Greek cuisine" from his early days at Cosmos in Darlinghurst via Omega in the CBD to his new outstanding premises in the old Hellenic Club in Castlereagh Street. Most of us know moussaka as a rather pedestrian layered eggplant, meat and potato dish. Conistis' contemporary twist on the traditional version is a real winner. It's on the menu for Sunday lunch at Alpha, along with other fabulous share dishes such as the melizanosalata (eggplant salad), ouzo-cured trout and barrel aged fetta (on the mezes menu); slow-roasted lamb shoulder, mastic spiced quail with fetta & watermelon salad, twice cooked octopus and slow-roasted thyme-honey-and-ouzo-glazed lamb ribs (mains); and chocolate hazelnut baklava and loukoumades (Greek doughnut balls with spiced honey syrup) for dessert. The high- ceiling room is gorgeous with fishing-net inspired hanging lights and a stone wall inscribed with Greek letters, a high stooled counter at the back where you can dine or nibble on mezes, a cafe at the front and an artisan food store to the side.
- crustless white bread - 3 slices, soaked in cold water
- small onion - 1/2, chopped
- lemon - 1, juice of
- tarama roe - 100g
- extra virgin olive oil - 225ml, preferably Greek
- Tomato Salsa
- ripe tomatoes - 2, peeled, seeded and chopped
- parsley - 3 tablespoons, finely chopped
- fennel seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
- extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons, preferably Greek
- Freshly ground pepper
- For the eggplant and scallops:
- medium eggpants - 3
- red capsicum (bell peppers) - 2
- white sea scallops - 24
- vegetable oil - for deep frying
- extra virgin olive oil - preferably Greek
- Freshly ground pepper
Squeeze the soaked bread. Process together with the onion and lemon juice at high speed. Add tarama roe and process for another minute. With motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Remove and chill.
Combine all the ingredients for the tomato salsa and chill.
Slice eggplant thickly. Sprinkle the eggplant slices liberally with salt and leave to sweat on a sheet pan for 2 hours. Rinse and pat dry. Deep fry until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Roast the capsicum (bell peppers) until their skin blackens. Remove skin under cold water. Remove pith and seeds. Cut the peppers into thin strips and toss with olive oil.
Heat a heavy, non-stick skillet until very hot. Toss scallops with a little olive oil and pepper and sear for 30 seconds on each side.
Place a slice of eggplant on each plate and top with a tablespoon of the taramosalata. Place 6 scallops on top, cover with a few strips of roasted red pepper and top with another eggplant slice. Drizzle generously with tomato salsa. Serve immediately.