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Chef Challenge- Victor Liong

Wednesday 25th February 2015

Boasting a culinary pedigree that includes Sydney’s Marque and Mr Wong, Victor Liong takes Chinese cookery to the #neklevel, incorporating French technique with classic Chinese flavours at his Smith St Collingwood restaurant Lee Ho Fook.

But it’s not just his sense of cuisson that makes Vic a class act. With a wicked sense of humour and an irreverent sense of fun, he made for a terrific Chef Challenger.

Here’s what he had to say on a few key topics.

What is your favourite meal to cook at home?

I enjoy cooking a lot of fish and seafood, because it’s delicious, quick and easy. The situation of sea fauna at the moment makes me sad; my generation might be the last to have such a selection of fish and shellfish availably accessible due to over fishing and species endangerment…I refuse to use tuna because of this fact. I also enjoy cooking 2 minute noodles with XO sauce. Let’s face it, I really don’t cook at home, and if I do, it’s usually just cooking up a good story after a few Negronis.

Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?

Personally, my biggest inspiration is my Mother; she’s a fantastic cook and has made countless memorable meals. I still call her from time to time to double check recipes and to make sure I haven’t missed anything or have used the right technique….onya Mum!

Professionally, Mark Best from Marque restaurant in Sydney. Besty has taught me to think outside the box and use unconventional ingredients and techniques to deliver flavour and dishes that are truly original and innovative. People say fine dining is dead, that’s a shame because fine dining restaurants are like universities for chefs; the conceptual and intellectual aspects of cooking are always at the fore in restaurants like Marque.

It’s not trendy but…I am also inspired daily by the music of Kanye West.

What’s your favourite stall at Prahran Market?

The Essential Ingredient; I love that place! It has something in there that every ‘foodie’ (wow I hate that term) would like; for chefs, even the spoon selection is legit.

Victor also stressed the importance of tasting as you go, and not worrying too much about measuring – especially when it comes to midweek cookery. Here are his recipes for some easy and banging midweek meals (who needs measurements anyway):

Steamed Barramundi with Ginger and Spring Onion:

Ingredients:

1 baby barramundi (or other small firm-fleshed fish), scaled and cleaned
1 knob of ginger, peeled
2 Spring onion stems, finely sliced on an angle
Shao Xing wine (to taste)
4T light soy sauce
2T sugar

Method:

  1. Boil some water in the bottom of a wok with a bamboo steamer that fits snuggly inside.
  2. Slash through the thickest part of the fish with a sharp knife without going all the way through.
  3. Place the fish on a heatproof plate, top with the rest of the ingredients, and then pop into the bamboo steamer.
  4. Steam for approx. 15 minutes or until the flesh gives no resistance when poked with a skewer.
  5. Mix light soy and sugar together, add a splash of water to thin sauce down and pour over fish before serving.
  6. Serve with steamed rice or vermicelli noodles.

Silken Tofu & Avocado Salad:

Ingredients:

1 packet of silken tofu (I’ve chosen the tube version because it has the most visual impact)
1 avocado, peeled
Chilli oil
Light soy
Mirin
Caster sugar (only a pinch)
Crispy shallots
Fresh coriander
Spring onion, finely sliced

Method:

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut the tofu and avocado into equal-sized thin slices.
  2. Mix together some chilli oil, soy, mirin and add a touch of sugar (if necessary) to create a dressing. Pour this around the avocado and tofu.
  3. Top with crispy shallots, spring onion and coriander leaves.

 

Baked Chinese Mushrooms with Soy Beurre Noisette:

Ingredients:

1 pk. Shimeji mushrooms
1 pk. Enoki mushrooms
1 pk. Black fungus
1 pk. Shiitake mushrooms
1 knob of good butter
Splash of soy sauce
Finely chopped garlic
Pinch of caster sugar (if necessary)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220C
  2. Melt the butter in a frypan on medium-high heat
  3. Meanwhile, place the trimmed mushrooms onto a piece of foil, leaving enough room to fold the edges up into a pouch.
  4. Wait for the butter to bubble and begin to turn brown, take it off the heat then add soy sauce and garlic and toss around to combine.
  5. Pour over the mushrooms and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Serve as a side to pan-fried fish or top with any leftover silken tofu.

Sago Pudding with Winter Melon and Coconut Flesh:

Ingredients:
1 litre water
300g sago
1 can winter melon juice
1 fresh young coconut, cleavered in half, flesh scooped out
200g coconut cream

Method:

  1. Bring the water to the boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the sago and stir as the water comes back to the boil to avoid any sticking.
  3. Leave to boil away for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain through a sieve, then place in a bowl and pour over the winter melon juice, allowing it to absorb for 20 minutes or so. Refrigerate until set.
  5. Top with coconut cream, fresh coconut and any tropical fruit you have handy.
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