I've never seen Mario Batali in person, but I imagine Chef Bruce Lim could take him on in a fist fight. At first glance, Bruce Lim looks more like a bouncer at an elitist night club or maybe a professional lion wrestler. But as the Californian native broke into a wide smile and busted out good-natured jokes, his intimidating size was quickly forgotten.
I assure you, I am not a tiny girl... but I am one when I'm next to Chef Bruce! ha! (in 4" heels too)
A few weeks ago, Gastronommy was invited to attend an Asian Food Channel (AFC) workshop, Taste of the Philippines starring Philippines TV chef, Bruce Lim. I'll readily admit that my knowledge of Filipino cuisine was at a minimal before attending this demonstration. I wasn't sure what to expect or where to start on the questions. It turned out most of the other attendees were not familiar with filipino cuisine either (or maybe journalists in Singapore are too shy to speak up compared to us loud mouth Americans).
cool coasters at AFC Studio
My +1 for the day and my helpful assistant!
Filipino cuisine is relatively unknown in most parts of the world, but that's why Chef Bruce is here. In addition to his TV series in the Philippines, he has plans to open his own Filipino restaurant in Manila.
Chef Bruce introduced three dishes:
Smoky Heart Banana Salad (delicately stewed heart shaped-buds and smoked fish)
Banana Leaf Wrapped Prawns (baked prawns with mung bean noodles)
Chicken Adobo with Aromatic Pandan Rice (stewed chicken with pandan infused rice)
The chicken adobo is the classic and the most recognized dish in the Philippines...and definitely my favorite of the three dishes he prepared for us that day. Bruce told us about an earlier interview session, where Singaporeans cried, "That's just Hainanese chicken rice!" I can see the similarities in the way the rice is cooked in chicken stock, but I must disagree about it actually being Hainanese chicken rice. The chicken itself is also far more savoury and rich than the Singaporean version. Neither respective chicken dishes is better than the other and each should be regarded as its own entity!
waiting for Chicken Adobo noms. Front row seat, baby.
Crab Butter used for the banana salad. Is it just me, or does "crab butter" sound simply amazing?
Recipe: Banana Leaf Wrapped Prawns
Baked prawns and Mung bean noodles
1 piece banana leaf (cut into 12" squares)
8 prawns (U-10 size)
3 cakes mung bean noodles (rehydrated)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 small onion sliced
1 inch ginger strips
1 tsp chili sauce
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup coconut cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. To make sauce, add oil to small saucepot and saute garlic, onions and ginger for two minutes.
2. Add aligue and saute for three minutes to ensure that it has cooked out.
3. Add in the chili sauce and coconut cream. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and cool.
5. To assemble, remove the shells from the prawns and leave the head attached.
6. Lay one banana leaf down on a soup bowl, add a small handful of noodles in the center and 2 prawns on top of that.
7. Season with salt and pepper then pour over 2tbsp of sauce and wrap. Bring up the sides and squeeze the top so it looks like a gift tie with off cuts of banana leaf.*
8. Once wrapped, bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
*See video below for demonstration on how to fold the banana leaf into a parcel.
Recipe: Chicken Adobo and Fragrant Pandan Rice
stewed chicken and pandan infused rice
500 g chicken legs
1/2 head garlic (chopped)
1/2 head onion (sliced)
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water or beer
3 pcs bay leaves
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp black peppercorn, cracked
Sugar and salt to taste
1. Add oil to medium-sized pot and saute onions and half the garlic until browned.
2. Add the chicken legs and brown on all sides.
3. Once the chicken is brown, add vinegar and simmer for 5-minutes.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and bring mixture to a boil.
5. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half.
Gastronommy tip: don't stir in the vinegar. Simply pour it in and let it cook out. This way, it penetrates into the meat and the acidity becomes less harsh. There's a significant difference in smell by using this process. Lean in and inhale--you'll notice that it has a smooth scent instead of a rough acidity that chokes you.
3 cups long grain rice
2 tbsp chicken fat or lard
3 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 inch piece of ginger (sliced)
3 leaves pandan
4 cups chicken stock
1. Remove pot from rice cooker and melt chicken fat. Add the ginger and garlic and saute until golden brown.
2. Remove garlic and ginger and add the rice, coating all the grains of rice with fat to ensure even cooking.
3. Remove from heat and add the stock. Give it a good mix and place the pandan leaves on top.
4. Return to rice cooker and cook.
5. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
See here for the follow-up Q+A with Chef Bruce Lim.
edit: Backtracking a bit, I just realized that Bruce Lim also participated in the Moleskine Recipe Notebook exhibition!
See here for my March entry about this.
Otherwise click here to see the full list of participants.