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4 Singapore-based chefs summarise the country in a dish

Whether local or foreign-born, we ask three citizen (and one PR) chefs to summarise Singapore in one dish. Here are their answers - with recipes to match.

Emmanuel Stroobant

Saint Pierre, Born in Belgium, Singapore Citizen

Emmanuel Stroobant, chef-owner of Saint Pierre

“One of my favourite local dishes is Chilli Crab! I fell in love with this dish the day I touched the shores of Singapore (in 1999), which I now call home. It is a dish that best represents Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore as a melting pot of diverse ethnicities and cultures. Its main ingredient, chilli, is an integral part of Southeast Asian cuisine regardless of race and ethnicity. If I have to put Singapore on a plate, it would be Chilli Crab as it symbolises Singapore’s rich multi-cultural heritage (Chinese, Malays, Indians) in a dish.”

CHILLI CRAB

Serves 4 Persons
Preparation Time 30 Minutes
Cooking Time 20 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

2L Water
1 stalk Celery, peeled and diced
1 no Carrot, peeled and diced
1 no Onion, diced
4 no Hairy crab
3 cloves Garlic
1 no Ginger (approximately 3cm)
3 nos Shallot
6 nos Chilli padi
10 nos Dried chilli, soaked in warm water for 2 hours
50ml Soy sauce
400ml Crab stock (or replaced with water)
50ml Sugar syrup
50ml Tomato ketchup
50ml Corn oil
2 nos Whole eggs, beaten
3 nos Egg yolk
110g Butter, melted
20ml Light soy sauce
1 tbsp Lemon juice

METHOD

1. Bring 2 litres of water to boil with celery, carrot and onion. Blanch crab for 4 minutes in boiling water, and remove from heat. Remove the meat from the crab but keep the shell.

2. Blend garlic, ginger, shallot, chilli padi, dried chilli and half of the crab stock into a chilli paste.

3. Fry the chilli paste with corn oil for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, until fragrant and slightly dry.

4. Add in the remaining crab stock, soy sauce, tomato ketchup and sugar syrup, and bring to a slow simmer.

5. Add in the crab meat and cook for approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat.

6. While the chilli crab is still hot, slowly drizzle in beaten egg while stirring in the mixture constantly.

7. Fill the crab shell with the crab meat mix.

8. Combine egg yolk and light soy sauce. Whisk over a bain marie to make a hollandaise. Once set, slowly pour and stir in the melted butter and lemon juice.

9. Cover the crab with hollandaise and place under the grill until golden brown.

(RELATED: 6 famous Singapore chilli crabs to try.)

DREW NOCENTE

Salted & Hung, Born in Australia, Singapore PR

Drew Nocente, chef-owner of Salted & Hung

“As you know, I am from Australia and I’d like to think we have quite a number of things that make us unique. When I think about some of these things, unfortunate to some but, Vegemite comes to my mind – definitely an Aussie icon.

“So, when I think of Singapore, XO sauce comes to my mind; I reckon it’s a staple in most households here. I was first introduced to this by my Singaporean mother-in-law. I love the burst of savoury and umami flavour that XO sauce adds to a dish, and so I decided to create my own rendition of it by evolving the sauce to a butter at Salted & Hung.

“We pair the XO butter on the side with wagyu ribeye and garlic shoots. The umami element of the butter lifts the ribeye while the garlic shoots balances it out by cutting through the richness of it all. This dish is available on our a la carte menu.”

XO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

100g scallop dried
100g shrimp dried
100g chorizo
100g guanciale
1 litre of oil
30g shallots
20g garlic
30g togarashi
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
135ml soy sauce

METHOD

1. Rehydrate shrimp and scallops.

2. Sweat (gently heat the vegetables in a little oil or butter, with frequent stirring and turning to ensure that any emitted liquid will evaporate) with a little bit of oil.

3. Add guanciale and sweat down.

4. Add chorizo and sweat down.

5. Remove from pot, then sweat garlic & shallots.

6. Add spices and togarashi and cook out.

7. Add the seafood and meat back in then add soy sauce Cover with remaining oil and slowly cook.

8. Stir occasionally, leave on for 12 hrs on very low heat. Make sure it does not burn.

PETRINA LOH

Morsels, Born in Singapore

Petrina Loh, chef-owner of Morsels

“Chicken rice is very iconically Singapore. Every chef has their own chicken rice recipe, and it varies from the method the chicken is cooked, down to the chili and rice. It has also been lauded by famous chefs like Ramsay and Bourdain, and it’s one thing tourists should never miss when visiting Singapore.

“For myself, it’s something I loved eating growing up, I eat it at home or in hawker centers and it was something I found very comforting. Even during my undergrad days in San Francisco, I would eat it at this Malaysian Singaporean Restaurant as it reminded me of home. In my recipe, I refined it in terms of texture and flavour of chicken as I brined it in some spices which I like to use and find comforting as well. I chose to use glutinous rice, as it is also very comforting to me. It reminds me of family, like when we eat bak chang or dim sum and there is glutinous rice. We are serving this dish ala carte at S$30 till August 16 to commemorate National Day.”

(RELATED: Meet 6 Women Who Are Rising Stars in Singapore’s Food Scene.)

SAKURA CHICKEN RICE

SAKURA CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

1kg Sakura chicken breast
500g water
30G salt (please note we use 12% sodium salt, adjust accordingly)
2 coriander root
4g coriander seed
1g clove
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3g black peppercorn
2g fennel seeds

METHOD

1. Wash chicken breast under running water.

2. Prepare brine:

Toast spices, add spices and roots to water and salt. Bring to boil. Ice down immediately.

3. Place chicken breast in brine overnight.

4. Wash off brine and dry.

5. Put into cooking bag, add 100G of Pomace olive oil, and sous vide for 1 hour.

6. Remove and let cool in bag for 10mins, then into ice water for 10min. Then remove and slice, ready to serve.

LOTUS LEAF GLUTINOUS RICE

INGREDIENTS

250g glutinous rice
1cup chicken stock
0.5cups water
2tsp salt
45g spring onion bottoms
25g homemade chicken rice paste
30g chicken fat

METHOD

1. Heat chicken fat, add chicken rice paste, fry till fragrant.

2. Add rice in, and fry for about 5-10 mins.

3. Add stock, water, and salt to rice, stir and cook for 15 min.

4. Soak lotus leaf overnight to soften, place par-cooked rice in lotus leaf and steam for 35 mins.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN RICE PASTE

INGREDIENTS

100g ginger
50g garlic
100g shallots
50g lemongrass (bottom half)

METHOD

1. Blend everything together.

CHICKEN RICE CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

100g red chilli
10g chilli padi
30g ginger
15g garlic
50g white wine vinegar
10g white sugar
10g salt
40g lime juice

METHOD

1. Blend chilli together with garlic and ginger till fine and well-mixed.

2. Add sugar, and all other ingredients.

Alysia Chan

Crackerjack, Born in Singapore

Alysia Chan, chef-owner of Crackerjack

PHOTO Crackerjack

“Singapore is home. Everything I associate with comfort, I associate with Singapore. Friends, family, food. Singapore’s cultural diversity is the cornerstone of what makes Singapore, Singapore. To me, it’s where familiarity meets contemporary, and a melting pot of influences and heritage.

“That’s what I think of the quinoa fried chicken. Fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food for most people, and almost every cuisine has some version of it. The quinoa has become such a fad these days that it adds a contemporary touch. It also gives an unexpected crunch that you would not get from regular flour or batter. The banana ketchup came about while I was talking to my Filipino kitchen staff, who grew up eating off-the-shelf versions. The F&B industry relies heavily on foreign talent – in particular from Malaysia and the Philippines – so I wanted to give them a chance to showcase their heritage on our menu and created a version from scratch. The slaw uses a local ingredient – bang kwang, mixed with red cabbage, carrots, and Japanese rice vinegar dressing. It’s another example of how ingredients from different cultures can come together to make a harmonious dish.”

QUINOA FRIED CHICKEN WITH BANANA KETCHUP AND JICAMA SLAW

BANANA KETCHUP

INGREDIENTS

50g raisins
85g chopped white onions
4 cloves garlic chopped
85g tomato paste
300ml cider vinegar
4 large ripe bananas
3 cups of water
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp all spice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon pinch ground cloves
2 tbsp dark rum
Salt, chilli powder, black pepper to taste.

METHOD

1. Put everything in a pot, boil and reduce till ketchup consistency.

2. Blend with hand blender. Reduce more if needed.

JICAMA SLAW

INGREDIENTS

½ Jicama (bang kwang), peeled and shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
¼ head purple cabbage, shredded
60ml Japanese rice vinegar
30g sugar
3g salt

METHOD

1. Mix all ingredients and let sit for an hour for flavours to meld.

QUINOA FRIED CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

1pc Boneless chicken thigh
100g plain flour
1 egg
1 cup cooked quinoa

METHOD

1. Coat the chicken in flour, dip in egg, then coat in the cooked quinoa, making sure to cover completely and press the quinoa on the chicken.

2. Deep-fry the chicken.

Story first appeared on The Business Times.