Last, and definitely not least, in our final episode of our Mother’s Day recipe series – where five Hong Kong chefs share their moments with mum or grandma as well as simple and nostalgic dishes that make them think of her – we chat to Agustin Ferrando Balbi of Andō who shares memories of his late grandmother and her great hospitality.
Who inspired your love of cooking?
When it comes to cooking and hospitality, my grandmother had the upper hand. Not only was she an excellent cook, but my grandmother was also the one who took care of me after school while my mother was at work. She really inspired me, and even to this day, I still get inspired by her enormous hospitality and try to recreate that feeling as much as possible at Ando.
What are your earliest memories of cooking?
My first memory of cooking was probably when I was around six years old cooking with my father. We cooked a big sea bass with olive oil, lemon and thyme 'a la Parrilla' over charcoal. I was mostly watching, but I felt like I was cooking it.
Sin Lola, or Without Lola, is a rice caldoso dish at Andō
What was your favourite dish cooked by your grandmother?
I have many, one of which is a classic Milanesas con pure. It was delicious and she always added chopped parsley and a splash of milk to the egg mix before adding the breadcrumbs to the meat. It was such a small touch but the difference in flavour and texture was enormous. She also made the potato puree with olive oil instead of butter and a sprinkle of saffron.
If you could take your grandma and mum out for Mother’s Day in Hong Kong, where would you take them?
Unfortunately, both are no longer with me but they are present with me at every moment, all the time, and I think they both would like Mono very much. I think after eating a lot of Chinese food in town, they would really like to go to a place where the flavours of home are showcased with a surprising twist.
Agustin Ferrando Balbi with Grandmother
Do you have a picture with her that you would like to share?
This photo with my Grandmother is at a football tournament. At the time it didn't mean much but now that I’m grown up, I can appreciate how she would bring me everywhere and be with me so that I can have fun and how my happiness made her happy as well.
She always supported me in my decision to be a chef, even though back then, the profession was not very well regarded. But they [mother and grandmother] always trusted and believed in me. Sadly they were not here when I achieved my Michelin star but I am sure that they know this was truly dedicated and thanks to them, simplemente gracias por todo!
Milanesas con pure (Breaded beef cutlet with potato pureé)
1kg peceto (eye of round) steak
2 cups of milk
200g chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2ltr oil for frying
100ml olive oil
80g grated parmesan
- Cut the meat into a very thin flat escalope, and pound it for one minute.
- Mix the raw egg, chopped parsley, and a splash of milk in a tray, and whisk it until smooth.
- Place the panko in a tray.
- Dip the meat into the egg wash on both sides and place it into the panko, covering both sides. Repeat the process one more time.
- Heat the oil in a medium pot to 180 degrees celsius and fry until golden brown. Remove them from the oil and place them in a tray with paper to absorb the excess oil and serve.
- For the potato puree: cook the potatoes in the oven with skin on for 40 minutes until soft. Remove the skin and mash the potato. Warm some milk with saffron in a separate pot and add it to the mashed potato, also adding in the olive oil little by little.
- While the potatoes are hot, add the grated parmesan, and try your best to make it very smooth.
- Add a segment of lemon on the side (optional).
For more Mother’s Day recipes, check out the Spicy pork tomato noodles by Narisara Somboon of ChaChaWan.