Friday, December 27, 2013

Off Spec Cows...

I was looking back at the previous posts and realised that many of the photos have disappeared. Probably when Blogger was migrated over to the Google servers.. I'm pretty sure I uploaded those photos and didn't just link them to FB.

Anyway, I was summoned to my beef supplier's warehouse today because he needed me to see something. Check out what was waiting for me.




The marbling is really insane. I ended up buying the whole lot, roughly 20 kilos. That was his evil plan all along...

Thing is, all beef was created equal, just that some are more equal than others. The 3 pictures above show:
  • Wagyu M8/9
  • Wagyu M6/7
  • Grass fed Angus

What's the big deal? Well, higher intramuscular fat is prized because it adds flavour and unctuousness to the meat. Finding grass fed beef with marbling like this is ridiculous. Definitely off specification and a true gem. 

I'm gonna try something new here. The first person who can correctly match the type/grade and cut of meat to A,B and C above wins a portion of this at okb. Obviously, people I've spoken to about this yesterday do not qualify.. Leave your answers in the comments!

The portion is about 300g and is worth $50. For the heck of it, I'll even throw in a free glass of the Brave, a Barossa Valley Shiraz that is not sold by the glass. I'll pour you a glass and keep the rest for myself. Definitely my favourite wine and the ultimate companion to this piece of cow.

Any takers? :)


At the start of the year, I told myself that I would be more active here. The last post was in January. So much for that...

2013 has been an interesting year. Took on 2 potential investors who turned out to be mostly hot air, kicked them out in a squabble that nearly went to court, accepted that I wasn't gonna get rid of okb so easily, took on 2 investors with real chops, a renovation and a new girlfriend later, the business appears to be finally in order. Time will tell...

Learned a lot this year, that's for sure. I hope 2014 is less of a pain in the ass :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Food, from the heart...

Scallops dengan Minyak Buah Keluak
My eldest sister loves scallops. I like them but she LOVES them. Scallops are fantastic but expensive. A scallop sporting a perfect sear is one of the best ways of eating them and adding too many other flavours will just ruin it. I find that searing the scallops with the oil skimmed of a big pot of ayam buah keluak ties my love for this shellfish and the classic Peranakan treat into a perfect knot.

Belachan Butter Midwings
This is NOT a variation of prawn paste chicken. I first tried this combination with leftover sambal belachan that I had made, by hand, at my grand aunt’s house. I had friends coming over and wanted to do something ‘more’ than just fried chicken wings or buffalo wings. I wanted something with local pizazz. So I was rifling through the fridge looking for inspiration when I came across the sambal belachan sitting in the margarine tub she gave me. Gold. But I needed a way to bind the belachan to the chicken and what better way than to make a compound butter with it? This followed by a really slow fry in the oven creates real magic.

Pork Belly & Luak Chye
I first tried luak chye at my great grand aunt’s house over CNY just a few years ago. I was really amazed at how good a combination of mustard greens and ginger, given time to mellow out in vinegar, could be. I knew it would become a signature dish of mine because it’s such a perfect condiment for any pork dish. I personally like the fattier cuts of pork and the luak chye works so well in cutting through the grease and lifting the entire dish.

Roast Beef with Gula Melaka Glaze
Cheap cuts of beef have the most flavour. Asians especially like the gelatinous texture that slow cooked cuts of beef, like shin and brisket, offer. Reading along the same lines, I give good quality US chuck a slow cook treatment, sear off the outsides to give tasty caramelized bits and serve the lot with a demi-glace made with beef jus, red wine and gula Melaka carried back by hand from, you guessed it, Malacca. The result? One of the most popular dishes in my repertoire. 

Starfruit Chicken
This dish is truly my personal culinary piece de resistance. A perfect marriage of traditional French technique, modern cooking methods and SE-Asian flavours and textures. This is something I would proudly call fusion. This dish really took it's time to evolve. I first toyed with the idea of using starfruit in salads when I got bored of the usual cherry tomato and baby radish that commonly go in. The pickled starfuit was an instant hit with my private dining clients and I thought it would give a refreshing kick to the Hainanese style poached chicken I learned to make while selling chicken rice at a hawker stall. Personally I hate steamed/boiled chicken skin so I took to searing the skin like how roast chicken is made at the stalls. The finishing touch came when a friend suggested using a beurre blanc as a finishing sauce to make the precision poached chicken breasts a little more unctuous. You may not be a fan of chicken breast, but wait till you try this dish out...

Cha Ca
I spent some time in Vietnam on internship during university and made really good friends there who’d bring me home and teach me how to cook real everyday Vietnamese foods. The culinary impact can still be seen in my cooking today with the use of many fresh SE-Asian herbs and fish sauce in my dishes. Cha ca isn’t something I particularly like but my interpretation of this dish really represents what I love most about Vietnamese cuisine. The mix of herbs and fish sauce brings unexpected depth of flavour to a simple looking presentation.

Haloumi and Tomatoes
My twin sisters did their degrees in Brisbane and developed a penchant for grilled haloumi and lemon juice over outdoor barbies and beer, the perfect companion to haloumi, in my humble opinion. They started making it here but I always found it too salty for my locally adapted palate. Never thought highly of it till I tried Bjorn’s version, with a tomato salad, over at Artichoke. Then it hit me that I could jazz this up with the marinated tomatoes I had already created as a side for other dishes. The rest, is history.

Shepherd’s Pie
My sisters have been a huge influence in my life and they always will be. I always remember them cooking and something they’d make pretty often was shepherd’s pie. Back then, no one in school knew what that was. They’d brown beef in a wok with frozen mixed vegetables, and top the casserole dish with instant mashed potato. My version pays homage to that. A mixture of beef and pork worked by hand into a smooth emulsion (just like how my mum taught me to make tahu tepung), brunoise vegetables, a spicy tomato sauce cooked like sambal rempah and a rustic sweet potato mash to blanket it all up. This dish is heaven in a cocotte, comfort to the max.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Almost 3 years have passed and obviously, a lot has happened. By the grace of God, I managed to graduate. I started a moderately successful supper club and a slightly more successful private dining outfit. I made many new friends and lost a few as well. I ditched an awesome opportunity in Italy (a masters degree) and instead, opened this up.

What's next? I don't know. I think though, I'll be penning more thoughts here from now on. Come what may...