Sunday, July 31, 2011

DBS Masterclass with Michael Han of FiftyThree

The July instalment of the DBS Masterclass featured Michael Han of FiftyThree at 53 Armenian Street. Michael ditched his law degree to pursue his dream of being a chef, working 16 to 18 hours a day. He began at home with Au Jardin and then at The Fat Duck, L'Enclume, Anthony's in England and Mugaritz in San Sebastian. He combines inspirations from nature with modern cooking techniques and sciences to bring about unique dishes.

I like Michael as he seems really sweet, shy, straightforward and honest. And for the most part, he had to be totally serious, as the three dishes he was demonstrating were not child's play.

His food is beautiful, but looking at the preparation work required, I would say, "Don't try this at home!" Yeah, just go to FiftyThree and eat there. Take a look at the recipes and you'll see.

Mud Crab and Kohlrabi, Apple and Nasturtiums
Mud Crab and Kohlrabi, Apple and Nasturtiums
This is not just pretty but tasty too. Savoury crab, crisp kohlrabi and apple, smoothly peeled walnuts (they really taste like something else!), all doused with a vinaigrette and brown butter emulsion.

The recipe is daunting. I'm not even going to type it out. You can click below to see larger images and details.

This here green thing is your kohlrabi
For those of you wondering what kohlrabi is, it's this here green thing. Tastes like white radish, so in a pinch, you could use radish as a substitute. Oh what am I saying? No, no, no, you don't want to try this recipe. Just go to FiftyThree.

Michael will show you how to play with crabs
Chef showing us how to play with crabs.

Now how come I never thought of that technique for cracking crab...
And how come I never thought of using a heavy pan for cracking crabs? I love multi-purpose tools.

Anyway, if you thought the first recipe was tough, you'll drop your jaw at the second one...

Carrollʼs Heritage Potatoes in Soil

Carrollʼs Heritage Potatoes in Soil
Then again it is oh-so-pretty! This is how it's served at the restaurant, in the specially commissioned tree trunk bowls. Doesn't it look like a veritable garden? A totally edible one, with coffee soil.

Recipe as follows. Click if you dare...

Be prepared to use stuff like hay...
Be prepared to steal some meadowsweet hay from your rabbit or hamster supplies (easily available at pet shops). Yes, we're using that to cook! I always thought those things smelled so nice.

Wagyu Beef Cheek and Alliums, Asian Pear and Wood Sorrel

Wagyu Beef Cheek and Alliums, Asian Pear and Wood Sorrel
Some really tender wagyu, coated with ash breadcrumbs (hey, we're using hay again here!), and perfumed with wild garlic oil and various spices.

Aha! A much shorter recipe, barely 2 pages! BUT, you'll need a sous vide machine...


Anyway, I did enjoy watching Michael skillfully put together those dishes with dedicated precision. I am reminded again of a key reason I would go to a restaurant - to eat stuff I cannot cook myself. I also gained some insight into how unusual ingredients can be used, and I marveled at the creative presentation.

Apple Jellies
We all got to sample those famous FiftyThree apple-flavoured jellies (yes, I think these are alcoholic). Let them melt on your tongue for a slow release of flavour. Or just chew them, if you are impatient. Both ways enjoyable!

Thanks to DBS Indulge and AFC Studio for inviting me to the masterclass. Check out also previous masterclasses by Roberto Galetti (Garibaldi Group) and Sho Naganuma (Hide Yamamoto Restaurant).

You can sign up for future masterclasses featuring chefs Janice Wong (2AM Desserts), Yong Bing Ngen (Majestic Restaurant) and oh my god, Tomonori Danzaki (Joel Robuchon Restaurant)!


1 comment

  1. Wow... these dishes look intense! I totally understand what you mean now by not attempting it at home and just heading to the restaurant to enjoy it prepared for you instead. Sage advice. :)


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