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Patrick Heuberger on Asian-style charcuterie

A new take on the humble otak.

Patrick Heuberger, owner of Casse-Croute, believes that charcuterie isn’t limited to European offerings. The Swiss-born chef who trained in Brittany under family-run Charcuterie Traiteur tells us more.


What are some common misconceptions of charcuterie? Most people think only of pate when they hear the word. Charcuterie basically refers to cured meat, and is actually more common than people think. In Singapore, things like luncheon meat, or even dim sum like har gow and siew mai (shrimp and pork dumplings respectively) are also a kind of charcuterie. Doesn’t charcuterie refer to cold cuts? Yes, but if you think of har gow or luncheon meat, these can actually be eaten cold. It’s the Chinese culture of heating up food that makes you think these items are meant to be eaten warm. Take Chinese sausage. On my last trip back to Switzerland, I took some for my friends and they just sliced it and ate it as it was. But in Asia, you would put it in a clay pot and cook it with rice, because the Chinese like their meals hot. Name an item that falls under charcuterie but is done differently in Asia and Europe. Definitely otak. It’s actually a fish pate, which we have in Europe too. The difference is we would wrap it in pastry, while here it’s wrapped in banana leaves and treated with different spices.