By SGN | 25 Jan 2022
Hi Betty, what sparked your love for cooking?
It is actually a rather funny story – I worked in Beijing in the 80s and my then-boyfriend left me with a gift when he went back to his home country – a rice cooker so I could make soups to keep warm during the cold Beijing winters! I nursed my sadness by utilising his gift well – making great curry parties! I was homesick for our Singapore food so I started replicating local dishes with that rice cooker! Many great memories were made and I have to thank my ex for this gift, for it was when my food adventures started unfolding.
Tell us more about your restaurant in Shanghai – Ginger Modern Asian Bistro!
After Beijing, I moved to Tokyo for 10 years, then eventually headed back to China, but this time, Shanghai. While in Shanghai, I met a property developer (who also used to live in Tokyo!) and he offered me space to start my first Ginger Cafe. I was very influenced by my time in Tokyo and brought a piece of the café scene to Shanghai. We did very well, serving a global menu – quiches, curries, soba, sushi rolls, tapas… After 10 years, Ginger has since morphed to its current concept, a modern Asian bistro, serving Laksa, Iberico Pork Satay, Mentaiko Pasta, Pho, great salads inspired from Tokyo izakayas and many more! I personally curate all the dishes and the restaurant’s interiors as well because of my love for design.
A fun fact – many of my dishes are also curated from my travels! I make it a point to attend local cooking classes whenever I am travelling. What I hold close to my heart is that all the dishes in the menu are the ones I love to eat and in a beautiful setting, which is very personal to me. I guess you could say that every dish in Ginger comes from my heart!
So, why did you choose to share these two recipes with us today?
In Singapore, Lohei is celebratory and we can’t celebrate without it. My prosperity yusheng recipe is also slightly different from those that you get from usual restaurants because of a few special ingredients like the Kaffir Lime leaves and fresh kumquat, and also a special dressing, it is very refreshing!
As for the Lotus Chicken, it may seem rather intimidating with many steps and ingredients. However, it’s an important Chinese dish and is rather effortless to make even for someone who isn’t a seasoned cook! The slow cooking method also ensures that your chicken is guaranteed to be perfect and juicy!
Last one – how are you planning to celebrate the Lunar New Year?
As a chef, my life always revolves around the table as I love to feed people! I like to share my love of feeding with a table that is full of surprises so my guests get an entire dining experience – this year, I even bought some cute decorative lions. As we are in Singapore this year, we are planning a cosy dinner with my family and I will be making these two delicious dishes as well to bring in prosperity for the new year. Huat ah!!!
Prosperity Yu Sang Salad
Serves 6 – 8pax
- (200-250gm sashimi grade fish (red snapper, salmon etc), thinly sliced
- 100gm preserved jellyfish, thinly sliced, if its highly salted, soak in water to remove salt
- 300gm white radish (daikon), julienne
- 100gm carrot, julienne
- 15gm fresh ginger, julienne
- 30gm preserved ginger (*usually eaten with sushi), julienne
- 150gm pomelo, broken into piece
- 1 fresh red chillies, deseeded and julienne
- 6 fresh kumquat, use the skin, julienne
- 15gm candied orange or preserved kumquat seeded, julienne
- 25gm preserved candied winter melon, julienne
- 2 sprigs coriander, cut into short pieces
- 2 lime leaves (stem removed), finely shredded
- Handful of Mustard Sprouts (optional)
Garnishings (put individually into red packets)
- 2 cups crispy skin (either store bought or made from fried won ton skins)
- ½ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped in food processor
- 3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- 70g plum sauce
- 10g sesame oil
- A pinch of five spice powder
- 1 lime leaf
- 15g rice vinegar
- 30g lime juice
- 8g salt
- 15g sugar
- 15g grapeseed oil
- A pinch of white pepper
- All ingredients can be prepared the night before except the fish, which should be marinated before serving.
- Finely julienne carrot and white radish. Place radish in water with ice cubes for 15-20 minutes to remove any bitterness or spiciness. Drain well and set aside. Keep chilled in fridge.
- Prepare other ingredients as per above instructions.
- Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients together in a clean bottle, shake well and set aside.
- To make the crisp flakes, cut won ton skin into 1cm stripes and deep fry quickly till light brown, remove onto a kitchen napkin to drain of oil. Cool and set aside. This can be prepared ahead of time and stored in a container.
- Marinate the fish with a 2 tbsp of dressing for 30 minutes before serving, this is to cure the fish, gives it more taste and tenderizing effect. Kept chilled in fridge.
- To serve, arrange all salad ingredients and jellyfish attractively on a larger platter and the marinated fish in the center.
- Mix the dressing well and pour over salad. With all your guests, toss the salad together with chopsticks and say out all the auspicious meaning of Yue Sang ritual and shout ‘low hey’ for good luck and prosperity! Sprinkle sesame seed, chopped peanut and crispy flakes.
Serves 6 – 8pax
- 1.5kg chicken
- Dried Lotus Leaves (soaked & dried before using)
- Baking paper
- 1 litre water
- 15gm sea salt
- 1Tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1Tbsp sesame oil
- 10gm salt
- 1Tbsp light soya sauce
- 1Tbsp dark soya sauce
- 1 Tsp black tea
- 1 Tbsp rice
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 50g chopped leek
- 3 shredded mushrooms
- 30g shredded ham
- 5 red dates
- 1 Tbsp of oil
- Some white pepper
- ½ cup (90g) soaked sticky rice
- 8g sesame oil
- ½ Tbsp light soya sauce
- 30g fresh ground sesame
- 45g sesame oil
- 3g salt
- For the brine, dissolve salt in water. Brine chicken for 2 hours or overnight to allow chicken to absorb water and some salt. The bird will be juicier after cooking. (optional)
- Pat chicken dry and marinate chicken with ingredients (B) for 30 minutes ~ 2 hours.
- Stuffing: Wash sticky rice and soak in the rice cooker for 30 minutes, add water into the pot to ½ cup water level marking. Sautee leek and ham with oil and sesame oil till fragrant. Add shiitake and pepper for stir for another 3 minutes. Add to the sticky rice and cook.
- Smoke Chicken: Arrange a piece of parchment paper in your wok, add ingredient (B) and place the smoking rack over it, cover with a lid. Turn on heat, let it begin to smoke. Place chicken on the rack, replace cover and smoke for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and keep it in the wok for 5 more minutes and then remove.
- Stuff chicken with (3) into cavity. Secure with toothpick and twine.
- Wrap chicken with a lotus leaf and then wrap another layer of parchment paper. If you can’t find lotus leaf, just use the parchment paper.
- Place on a tray and bake in preheated oven at 100C for 2.5 hours, add a tray of water at the bottom rack of oven.
- Before serving, remove parchment paper and place whole chicken on a large platter, unwrap the lotus leaves to reveal the chicken, if you like to add some colours and decorate the sides with some halved mandarin oranges and red packets.
- Serve hot with the sesame dip.
Happy Lunar New Year from all of us at Singapore Global Network!