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.
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...
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.
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.
Posted by Fidei Defensor at 1:49 AM