Humble vegetables are elevated to fine-dining status with these incredible culinary creations.
FARMER’S HARVEST FROM JAAN
Chef Kirk Westaway’s take on the garden salad – a veritable riot of colours on a plate – is composed of more than 25 types of the freshest seasonal vegetables, predominantly sourced from France, England and Italy, with the rest from Malaysia, Australia and Edible Garden City in Singapore. Mind-boggling selection aside – purple and yellow carrots, purple cauliflower, broccolini, Romanesco, pearl onions, squash and zucchini usually feature – the vegetables are baked, blanched, roasted or prepared sous vide to always ensure an intriguing yet cohesive mix of textures and flavours. A smoked aubergine puree forms the dish’s base and adds a smoky dimension to the vegetables’ bright, summery flavours. Naturally, plating this dish is no walk in the park – it can take the kitchen team up to three minutes, a significant amount of time during busy hours, to put together one of these.
The Farmer’s Harvest is part of various set lunch and dinner menus (from $78 a person). For more information, visit www.jaan.com.sg.
The base is made from an aubergine puree which is cooked in the pizza oven for a rustic, smoky flavour.
TORTELLINI FROM JAAN
The kabocha pumpkin, imported from Kyoto and boasting a rich, sweet flavour, is the star of this sophisticated pasta dish – it appears both as a filling in one of the golden-hued tortellini and as a mild curry-and-chilli-spiced pumpkin soup. Curls of gently-nutty fontina cheese, tangy pickled red shallots and roasted diced pumpkin round up the supporting cast. Together with the tortellini, they offer robust yet well-balanced flavours.
The Tortellini is part of various set lunch and dinner menus (from $78 a person). For more information, visit www.jaan.com.sg.
Made with saffron sourced from the best farms in Khorasan, Iran (known for their saffron production), this tortellini is stuffed with ricotta cheese.
Parsley is blended, boiled, then passed through a coffee filter in order to obtain the parsley paste that tints the pasta dough green. This tortellini contains a pumpkin and sage butter filling.
A shaving of black breadcrumbs from homemade scorched sourdough adds textural contrast.
ROASTED WHITE ASPARAGUS FROM LES AMIS
As the granddaddy of French fine diners in Singapore, two-Michelinstarred Les Amis, with its head chef Sebastien Lepinoy, is adamant about using as many imported French ingredients as possible. “The seasons inspire me, and we always follow the seasons of France,” chef Sebastien says. White asparagus gets its turn at this time of year, and the sturdy stems are prepared and presented in the most unfussy of ways – roasted lightly, topped with slightly bitter young salad leaves that off set the sweetness of the asparagus, then served with a Choron sauce. It’s a straightforward dish, but as chef Sebastien puts it: “I respect the vegetable, and let it speak for itself. There’s nothing molecular or fancy about it – it’s just a classic French dish.”
The Roasted White Asparagus is a seasonal menu item at Les Amis. For more information, visit www.lesamis.com.sg.
The white asparagus is boiled in water with salt, roasted with a drizzle of French olive oil from the Saint-Remy-de-Provence region in southern France, then topped with young salad leaves.
With the addition of tomato puree, the Choron sauce is a variation on the classic French Bearnaise sauce.
WINTER MELON FROM SAINT PIERRE
When done right, a vegetarian dish can be just as hearty and moreish as its meaty counterparts. Inspired by the clean-tasting, fresh-tuna-like flesh of an organic Japanese winter melon from Okinawa, chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant built a tartare-like dish around it, and topped it off with pickled radish and locally-grown cress. A herb coulis (a juice made of herbs pressed to extract the chlorophyll) and grated preserved egg yolk form the finishing touches for a creation that’s not only visually arresting, but also a treat for the palate with clean, fresh flavours. Only young winter melons and radishes sourced from organic farmers in Japan are used to ensure the necessary quality and texture.
The Winter Melon is part of Saint Pierre’s vegetarian Nature and Grand Nature menus (from $148 and $178 a person respectively). For more information, visit www.saintpierre.com.sg.
The egg yolks grated over this dish are preserved in a combination of salt, sugar and bay leaves. Once brined, they’re dehydrated for two to three hours. The whole process takes more than three days.
The radishes are pickled according to a classic family recipe. The natural colour comes from the skin of the radish and a few drops of beetroot juice.
The winter melon is first fried in cottonseed oil, then cooled, after which it is braised in a combination of soy, mirin, seaweed stock and sake for 12 hours.
“INTERPRETATION OF MY FAVOURITE VEGETABLES” (OIGNON DOUX DES CEVENNES) FROM CORNER HOUSE
Once a self-professed vegetable-hater, chef Jason Tan was so enamoured with the delicately sweet flavour of the prized Cevennes onion (sourced from the mountainous region of south-central France of the same name) that he cast it in the spotlight for his now-signature dish, and created four interpretations of it. The number of ingredients used has been deliberately reduced (the main ingredients are just the onion, farmed egg and black truffle), and certain methods employed, to allow the flavour of the onion to best shine forth. Even the onion tea, supposedly the strongest-flavoured interpretation, has just a coy sweetness without a hint of pungency. Such is the mildness of the vegetable that chef Jason quips: “You’ll never cry while chopping it.”
“Interpretation of My Favourite Vegetables” is part of various set menus (from $168 a person). For more information, visit www.cornerhouse.com.sg.
In a hollow onion shell, onion confit and puree are topped with a sous vide farmed egg and black truffles (the region they come from depends on the season).
Filo pastry is made into a tart base, topped with onion confit and Parmesan cheese, and finished with a dash of Malabar black pepper (Malabar peppercorns are considered one of the best in the world).
To make the tea, the onion is sliced, caramelised, then prepared sous vide for three days. Afterwards, the onion is strained to extract its essence, which is then infused with Earl Grey yin zhen tea for a hint of bitterness.
Wafer-thin pieces of sliced onion are lightly blanched, sandwiched between two metal trays, and left to dehydrate over a couple of days.