If it is food that makes your world go round, your age or profession is immaterial. An exclusive cookery session, initiated by HT City, was conducted on Monday by sous chef Durgesh Tyagi at Shiro Restaurant & Bar, Hotel Samrat, and saw spirited foodies from different walks of life indulging in their passion for food.
The group included a young psychologist, an aspiring chef, a Spanish language student and a lawyer in her twenties, all driven by the desire to perfect their culinary skills. And, the chef treated them with a live-cook off of scrumptious yet easy to rustle up Vietnamese dishes — fragrant Pho, spring rolls and steamed fish mousse.
For some, the cooking exercise was a great stress buster. "There’s nothing like cooking for me to unwind after a hard day’s work. I’m happy that I now know how to cook such exotic dishes. I’ll impress my friends with a gourmet treat," said psychologist Mrinalinee Rana.
The event, held in partnership with Star World that airs Masterchef Australia Session 4, concluded with chef Tyagi handing out some of the cooking show’s merchandise including an apron, cap and oven mittens.
The secret recipes
Steamed Fish Mousse in Banana Leaf
500g boneless fillet Vietnamese basa
4 fresh long red chilies, halved
2 lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
2cm young ginger
4 pecan nuts
1 large clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh coconut cream
10 pieces of banana leaf the size of an A4 paper, gently heated over a naked flame to soften
Chop the fish fillet finely with a cleaver to form a paste and place in a bowl.
In a mortar and pestle, pound fresh chilies to a pulp. Add shallots, turmeric, lemon grass, pecan nuts, and garlic and pound into a fine paste for 10-15 minutes. Add this paste to the fish paste with turmeric leaf, salt, sugar and coconut cream, mixing well to combine. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of mousse onto each sheet of banana leaf and fold the individual leaf up to make a parcel. Place the parcels in a hot steamer and steam for 15 minutes until cooked through. Serve warm.
For vegetable stock: 1 litre cold water, 1 onion cut in half, 1 stalk celery (chopped), 2 cloves garlic, 1 bay leaf, 3 black peppercorns
For broth infusion: 1/2 litre vegetable stock, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, ginger (halved), 1/4 of a red chilly (thinly sliced), 3 pieces of coriander root
To season broth: 2 tbsp soya sauce and lime juice
Pho vegetables: 80g fresh rice noodles, 15g carrot, julienned, 1/4 red capsicum, 1 spring onion and 2 fresh shitake mushrooms — all thinly sliced, 10g shitake mushrooms, juice of a lime
To garnish: 2 sprigs Vietnamese mint, 3 sprigs coriander, 1/4 red chilly, finely sliced
For vegetable stock, place all ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes. Skim the froth. Strain stock through a sieve and discard solids. For broth infusion, boil ingredients in a saucepan on low flame for 10 minutes. Season to taste with light soya sauce. And lime juice. To serve, layer pho ingredients into a serving bowl and gently pour over broth infusion. Garnish with lime juice, mint, coriander and chilly.