With only one day to go before I head escape from the heat of London to er…. even hotter Malaysia, I thought I’d take a break from my gastronomic adventures and talk about what is my Top 10 Favourite dishes. These are dishes I would find hard to resist if I find it on a restaurant menu. Without further ado here is my list in no particular order.
Top 10 Favourite Food
Pan-seared Foie gras – Foie gras is synonymous with luxury much like caviar, abalone and diamonds (well you can’t eat the latter). There is of course a lot of controversy with the production of foie gras but people are being hypocritical and not looking at other (bigger) problems of food ethics. The problem is most chefs are stingy with the size of the Foie (cutting it too thin or small), and subsequently ruining the balance in textures and the customer wonders what all the fuss is. Done correctly, a properly pan-seared foie gras with its crisp exterior and molten interior is in my opinion one of the best delicacies in the world.
Roast Pork with Crackling – A lovely slab of pork, which is well marbled and has its individual layers of meat and flesh and slow roasted so that the fat and meat are one is probably one of my favourites. No fuss, no hassle – simple rock salt and black pepper is all you need if you get a fine piece of meat. Err… actually just forget about the pork and go triple helpings on the crackling which if you are not careful might just chip a tooth. Oh and for bonus marks it has to come with all the trimmings especially goose fat roast potatoes. Now that’s angina on a plate!
Steamed Pomfret – My friends knowthat I am not a big fan of chinese food. I don’t mind it and enjoy it occasionally, but can’t stand eating it everyday. There is a chinese saying that to keep your husband at home (from any hanky panky) his wife must be able to make good soups. I am not a big fan of chinese soups but steamed pomfret is the one chinese dish I love to eat more than others. I am a big fan of fish and no one does it better than the Chinese. Perfect timing is essential as with cooking any fish but the beauty lies in it’s simplicity – the light soy and garnishes simply help elevate the freshness and sweetness of the fish.
Roast Veal Sweetbreads – A true test of a chef is not in how well they cook meat or even fish but what they can do with offal. Making offal taste good requires a lot of skill as you need to get rid of any of the foul taste often associated with it without losing any of its flavours or identity. It is unfortunate that in today’s society people scorn offal as being cheap cuts or peasant’s food and instead opt for choice cuts. Offal is after all more nutritious and healthier than eating the meat itself. Sweetbreads, when done properly, is second to none in terms of taste and textures. I would definitely pick this over any meat dishes in a restaurant.
Steak & Kidney Pudding – The taste of ox kidneys is an acquired taste but in my humble opinion, there is nothing that can better or more British than the classical Steak & Kidney pudding with a moist steamed suet crust and pipping hot filling. The kidneys give a depth of flavour to the gravy which marries perfectly with the melting tender beef. IAs a side note, in the olden days, oysters was added to this dish to bulk up the dish – oysters were considered peasant’s food back then.
Caesar Salad – While I probably would not order a Caesar salad when I go to a restaurant, this is probably one of my favourites on a day to day basis. I could, and have been known, to eat Caesar salad everyday for lunch. I am a huge fan of anchovies and I absolutely adore the slight saltiness that it brings to the sauce. Of course, no caesar salad would be complete with a generous helping of crunchy croutons and shavings of good quality Parmegianno Reggiano.
Sea Urchin Sashimi – Sea urchin or Uni as it is known in Japanese is an acquired taste for a lot of people. Some people do not like the texture and refer to it as snot. However, to appreciate sea urchin is to think of it as an egg yolk packed full of flavour. It is apparently good for you too as it is low in cholestrol (despite its rich taste).
Peking Duck – Unlike J, I love skin. Love love love love it! J tends to leave the skin of her chicken and duck on the side while I look on greedily and gobble them up. Peking duck is the best excuse for a skin lover as you traditionally just eat the crispy skin and then bin the rest of the duck. Nowadays, restaurants tend to use the meat of the duck to make a second course such as a stir-fry with vegetables or a noodle dish.
White Truffle Risotto – You must be laughing right now thinking ‘Oh dear… this kid really likes his expensive food’. To be honest, I have never ordered white truffle risotto in any restaurant. Period. My only experience of white truffle risotto is the ones I make as I don’t have to pay an arm and leg for it (that said, the best quality white truffle from Alba enough for 2 people still costs an abominable £40). The perfect risotto has to be finished off with double cream and cold butter whipped in at the last minute for extra creaminess.
Bread & Butter Pudding – I am not a huge dessert person. I personally am not a big fan of chocolate – I like it in small amounts, but too much of it is rather sickening. My favourite dessert (or pudding as it is referred to here in the UK) is Bread & Butter Pudding, crisp and caramelised on the outside with a moist centre and a generous helping of raisins (ideally soaked in rum). All this topped with some lovely Vanilla ice cream. The Brits while terrible cooks in general, do make the best puds!