Culinary genius André Chiang reaches new levels of exploration and experimentation at his Singapore establishment, Restaurant ANDRE. Tying together his lifelong journey, chef Chiang beautifully serves a cuisine that is “sophisticated and filled with emotion – elegant and simple.” Here we have his Vanilla Oil, Lemongrass, Bitter Almond Curd recipe from his new cookbook, Octaphilosophy.
First, some words from chef Chiang on the dish:
“It is an experimental dish that is not about ‘protein, fiber, and carbohydrate’ – there is no “protein, fiber, or carbohydrate.’ It is just an abstract dish of pure sensation:
Aroma (vanilla), Body (cucumber), Taste (almond), and After-taste (lemongrass).”
Bitter Almond Curd
200 g green almond flesh
400 ml water
2 g Texturas Iota
100 g egg yolks
80 g caster (superfine) sugar
60 g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
3 drops bitter almond essence
First soak the green almonds in the water for 48 hours.
Strain, reserving the almonds and 200 ml of the soaking water.
Blend in a Vitamix until very smooth, then strain through a coffee filter to obtain almond milk.
Measure out 400 ml of almond milk into a pan and use an immersion blender to mix in the iota. Bring to a boil.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, then temper the mixture with a little hot liquid.
Stir back into the pan and cook to 85ºC (185ºF).
Cool down to 50ºC (120ºF) and blitz in the butter with an immersion blender.
Transfer to a piping (pastry) bag and set overnight in the refrigerator.
Compressed Cucumber Julienne
5 lemongrass stalks, coarsely chopped
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled
40 ml Vanilla Oil Pinch of salt
Start by infusing the lemongrass overnight in 500 ml boiling water.
The next day, strain to make lemongrass water.
Cut the cucumber in half.
Cut one piece into brunoise and and vacuum pack with lemongrass water and cook at 58ºC (135ºF) for 45 minutes.
200 g caster sugar
500 g lemongrass, chopped
20 g strips orange zest
800 ml water
8 g agar agar
Put the sugar into a pan and heat to make a dry caramel.
Add the lemongrass and water and bring to a boil.
Add the orange zest, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour.
Strain and weight the lemongrass liquid.
Add 1 g agar agar per 100 ml of liquid.
Pour the liquid on to a flat tray; it should set to a thin sheet of jelly immediately.
Cut the jelly into rounds of 4 cm in diameter.
Just before serving, mix the cucumber brunoise with the vanilla oil and add a pinch of salt.
Cut the rest of the cucumber into 6 cm (2½ inch) julienne strips.
Pipe 9 dots of almond curd onto each serving plate in a grid pattern.
Cover each with a round of lemongrass jelly so they resemble ‘ravioli’.
Place the cucumber brunoise and julienne strips on top of the bottom right-hand ‘ravioli’. Serve immediately.
The Eight Elements of Restaurant André
Phaidon, April 2016
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