Time Out Cook Out is where you can take inspiration from some of KL’s top chefs as they transform ordinary store bought ingredients (from Jaya Grocer) into imaginative dishes, with recipes you can easily replicate at home. They each can only use the ingredients from the box, with the exception of kitchen staples such as oil, sugar, flour, eggs, butter, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
Melissa and Michelle Pong
Coming from a food-loving family – their earliest childhood memories involve family cookouts – it’s no surprise that sisters Michelle and Melissa Pong have always wanted to open a restaurant to share their love of food. Today, their culinary ventures – Fat Spoon café (reinvented Nyonya fare) at Damansara Uptown and Mei by Fat Spoon (Japanese-inspired comfort food) at Desa Sri Hartamas – have become household names in KL’s casual dining scene.
Here are the ingredients in their mystery basket:
- Torch ginger (bunga kantan)
- Curry powder
Michelle's dish: Salmon and pear kerabu with eggplant chips
1 half-fillet of salmon
1 quarter pear
1 quarter onion
2-3 tablespoons mustard
Bunga kantan to garnish
1. In a bowl, combine mustard with two teaspoons of soy sauce and stir briskly.
2. Add three teaspoons of sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and boiling water) to balance out the spiciness of the mustard.
3. Put aside in chiller.
1. Slice a quarter of an onion and place it in iced water for ten minutes (to remove the strong flavours of the onion).
2. De-skin salmon and cut into small cubes. Place salmon in bowl and set aside in chiller.
3. Finely slice bunga kantan and julienne pears.
4. Combine salmon, onions, bunga kantan and julienned pears in one bowl, add the mustard sauce (two to three tablespoons) and toss until mixture is evenly coated.
5. Garnish with coriander and bunga kantan for extra colour.
Grilled eggplant chips
1. Thinly slice eggplant and coat in corn flour.
2. Grill eggplant slices in a shallow pan with oil over medium fire until edges turn brown.
3. Remove from pan and place on kitchen-grade tissue paper to absorb the excess oil.
4. Serve salmon kerabu with eggplant chips.
Tip: You can also replace eggplant chips with items such as biscuits or poppadum chips. For more flavour, squeeze half a lime over the salmon kerabu.
Melissa's dish: Grilled eggplant with curry relish
1.5 tablespoons curry fish powder
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons mustard
4 teaspoons brown sugar
Half an eggplant
Salt and pepper
1. Mix curry fish powder and water until it forms a paste with the consistency of ketchup.
2. Thinly slice the onion and pan fry until slightly brown.
3. Add the curry paste and sauté over medium heat until fragrant.
4. Add two teaspoons of brown sugar and thicken the relish with two teaspoons of mustard.
5. Turn heat to low and simmer for five to ten minutes.
1. Cut eggplant lengthwise.
2. Combine two tablespoons of butter, two teaspoons of brown sugar, and a pinch of salt in pan on medium heat.
3. Plop eggplant face down in the brown butter and sear it on both sides for 20 to 30 minutes. Put on the lid to cook it through.
4. To check if it’s properly cooked, the eggplant should be golden brown and soft when squeezed with tongs.
5. Remove eggplant from pan and pour the curry onion relish over it. Sprinkle pepper and a bit of salt to flavour. Garnish with finely chopped bunga kantan for additional colour.