One of the best parts of travelling is trying a smorgasbord of interesting and delicious food. A 2018 Booking.com survey revealed that 35% of travellers take vacations to sample local delicacies. And while travel has been put on hold for the time being, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy mouthwatering dishes at home. Below, four standout chefs from around the Singapore Airlines (SIA) network share their go-to recipes for a satisfying meal.
1. Grilled vegetable lasagna
Helmed by the Belgium-born Stroobant, the two-Michelin-starred Saint Pierre is beloved for its modern French cuisine that plays with Asian influences. However, what many don’t know is that the feted chef is also a vegetarian. Of his go-to dish Stroobant says, “It’s simple, very tasting and can be made a day or two ahead. You can prepare large batches and freeze them, which then becomes a very quick and simple lunch or dinner when you have no time or ideas to cook.”
1 box pasta or pasta sheets (250g)
Classic bechamel sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
250ml cold milk
Salt and pepper to taste
10ml olive oil
5 shallots, peeled and chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
50g basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp sugar
125ml (one glass) red wine (Shiraz or any full-bodied wine)
2 zucchini (green or yellow), sliced to 5mm thickness, length-wise
2 eggplants, sliced to 5mm thickness, length-wise
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced length-wise
100g spinach (whole leaves)
50g Parmesan cheese
- If you are using fresh pasta, blanch pasta for 2 minutes. Refresh in iced water and 2 tbsp olive oil. The oil helps to prevent the pasta from sticking together and the iced water will stop the cooking process. If you are using dried lasagna sheets, no need to pre-cook them.
- To make the bechamel sauce, fry onions in olive oil till aromatic. Set aside. Melt butter, add flour and stir till you obtain a roux*. Leave this in the oven for 6–7 minutes at 180° While it’s still hot, slowly add 250ml cold milk, stirring continuously. Then add cream and stir constantly. When bubbles arise, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cooked onion and set aside.
- For the tomato sauce, heat olive oil, add shallots and cook for 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, garlic and sugar, and cook another 3 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and reduce by 1/3. Add chilli flakes and set aside.
- Char-grill all the vegetables or grill in the oven. And toss with some olive oil. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the vegetables with olive oil.
- In a 15cm x 30cm dish, spread tomato sauce first (so that pasta won’t stick to the dish), followed by pasta, and a layer of vegetables, then béchamel sauce. Repeat till finish. The last layer should preferably be tomato sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake for 50 minutes at 160°C – low heat.
*A roux is a thickener, which looks like a dough. There are 3 different types of roux: blanc (white), blond and brun (brown). The longer you cook the butter, the darker it looks; this applies to the roux as well.
2. Green chilli chicken
Inspired by her time in Melbourne, Australia, Khandelwal opened Ivy & Bean, a cosy Italian eatery in the trendy Delhi neighbourhood, Shahpur Jat, in 2013. The success of that restaurant led to a second outfit, Fig & Maple, in 2017. At the latter, Khandelwal works closely with farmers to produce a seasonal menu that features the best of Indian produce.
While she’s not busy running her two restaurants and planning a third, chef Khandelwal also helms the kitchen at home – and her latest creation is the deceptively simple but delicious green chilli chicken.
“I created this dish during the lockdown period,” she shares. “You don’t need a lot of ingredients and the taste is sensational. For me, the medley of flavours stirs up memories of an Indian summer.”
1 cup coriander
4 to 5 green chillies
10 to 12 cloves garlic
60ml mustard oil
1 Tbsp ginger
Juice of 1 lime
- Make a smooth paste of all the above ingredients except the chicken.
- Add half of the paste to the chicken and marinate for at least one hour. Reserve the rest.
1 Tbsp mustard oil
1 stick cinnamon
4 to 5 cardamom pods
2 to 3 green chillies, whole
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a pan and add the whole spices and let them splutter, then add the green chillies.
- Add the onions, season with salt and let them brown.
- Sprinkle the sugar and stir well.
- Add the green chilli and coriander paste and cook for 2–3 mins.
- Add the chicken and stir well, then add 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook for 10–12 mins on a medium flame.
- Open the lid and let the sauces reduce completely (8–10mins).
- Serve hot.
3. Chinese steamed chicken
With over 30 years of experience, chef Ken Yu’s culinary philosophy is to transform traditional Cantonese cuisine with Western techniques – and this approach is the hallmark at Kerry Hotel’s Hung Tong restaurant. At home, however, Yu’s style is a little more laidback, and his favourite comfort food is a simple chicken dish that reminds him of convivial gatherings with family and friends. When selecting a chicken, Yu suggests getting a locally farmed one as “they usually have a balanced distribution of meat and fat”.
1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Diced chilli to taste
- Rinse the chicken and remove the internal organs.
- Boil water in a big wok.
- Steam the chicken for 20 minutes on high heat.
- Turn off the heat, do not open the lid; and let the chicken rest in the wok for another 5 minutes and it is done.
- The chicken is best paired with soy sauce and chilli.
4. Sri Lankan prawn curry
From chef Rishi Naleendra, Kotuwa, Singapore
Bursting on to the Singapore dining scene with the much-lauded Cheek by Jowl (now closed), Naleendra currently has three restaurants under his belt – Cheek Bistro, Cloudstreet and Kotuwa. The third and latest in his culinary ventures, Kotuwa is a celebration of Sri Lanka’s robust and vibrant dining culture. For Naleendra, who is originally from Sri Lanka, many of his fond memories revolve around food – from a wide variety of curries to homemade sambols and preserves. This prawn curry is one that his mum often prepared – and it evokes plenty of nostalgia whenever he makes it. “It has so much flavour that I just eat it with plain rice. Any leftover is great the next day, and can be used as sauce for a pasta,” he says.
2 pcs pandan leaves
10 pcs curry leaves
30g shallots, sliced
3 pcs chilli padi
10g tamarind paste
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp roasted curry powder
1 cup coconut milk
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch ginger piece, finely chopped
Salt to taste
- De-shell all of the prawns, keeping the prawn heads and shells to one side.
- In a pot or a wok, heat up a bit of oil. Add the lemongrass, curry leaves, pandan leaves, sliced shallots, green chilli padi, garlic and ginger and sweat them.
- After sweating, add all of the dry spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the prawn heads and the prawn shells. Cook until the shells and prawn heads are nicely toasted.
- Add 2 cups of water and the tamarind and bring it to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and season with salt.
- Place all liquid and shells into a blender, blend until smooth, set aside.
- In a clean pot or wok, start searing the prawns at medium heat. Spread the prawns out and cook on each side for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the sauce to the prawns and bring the sauce back up to a boil. Then add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil again. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with lime.