• Sasha Huang

Michelin-Starred Chef Alain Roux Shares His Top 5 Traditional French Dishes From the Roux Family

INTERVIEW



Perched on the top floor of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, is the two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Normandie led by world-renowned chef Alain Roux. For Roux, cooking has always been a critical part of his life. Growing up under the roof of another great chef, Michel Roux, and the years of experience working with many others, Roux is now a name well known by many young chefs.


Not only is he the Chef Patron at the Roux Family, he also founded and three Michelin-starred restaurant The Waterside Inn, and is the Chef Patron and creative mind behind Le Normandie. The two fine-dining restaurants offer the rich and sophisticated experience of contemporary French cuisine. Here, Roux shares with us his top 5 traditional French dishes from the Roux Family.



1) Fillet Of Turbot Grilled Over Coals, Soufflé Potatoes and Hollandaise Sauce With Chervil


Darne de turbot grillé au charbon de bois, pommes soufflées et sauce Hollandaise au cerfeuil


The beauty of this dish rests in the perfect, simple harmony of prime, fresh ingredients. The star of the plate is the mighty turbot, the king of fish, as unique as it is elusive. It has a distinctive meaty texture but at the same time, a delicacy and finesse.


Before cooking, I prefer to soak the fish for a few minutes, depending on the size of the fillet, in a lightly salted brine. This helps to tenderise it and enhance the flavour. My favourite way to cook the turbot is to grill or even better, to roast it on a barbecue. The Big Green Egg and Japanese konro grill are my favourites. The Big Green Egg is versatile with different options to try. The konro is perfect since you can choose from a variety of charcoals to bring a subtle smoky flavour to the fish. The fillet just needs a few minutes on a medium heat to give a little colour and gentle smoky flavour. To know when the turbot is cooked, insert a sharp knife or trussing needle into the thickest part of the flesh. The fish is ready when it flakes into pearlescent, opaque chunks.


I love to serve the turbot with a potato soufflé, a classic French accompaniment. It can be a challenge to prepare, but is worth the effort. In addition, a few slivers of kombu, a type of edible seaweed used in Japanese and Asian cooking, complements the dish beautifully bringing the subtle, briny, freshness of the sea to the plate. My choice of sauce to marry together these beautiful elements is one of the classic French buttery sauces, a beautiful Hollandaise, enhanced with a little light brown turbot stock, made from roasted turbot heads. This adds another dimension to the flavour and ensures no part of the fish is wasted. A final light garnish of chopped fresh chervil from the garden is all that is needed to complete this sublime dish.



2) Chicken From Bresse With Leek And Morel Cannellone, Supreme Sauce And Black Truffle


Poulet de Bresse, cannellone de poireaux et morilles, sauce suprême et truffe noire


The “Poulet de Bresse”, a special breed of chicken farmed in Bresse, a region in France, is regarded as not only the most delicious chicken in the world, but certainly the most expensive! Even in France, it is a rare treat to find a Bresse chicken on the menu. The texture is slightly firmer than a common farmed chicken, especially the leg. The trick with cooking is to preserve its moisture and tenderness as far as possible. I like to help this by soaking the bird in a salted brine for 3 to 4 hours before cooking. One of my favourite flavour combinations is to serve the black truffle with this sumptuous chicken.


When cooking poultry, especially a whole bird, remember to rest it a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes before carving, preferably wrapped in tin foil. This helps to retain the juices within the bird. I like to rest it upside down, to encourage all the juices to run into the breast. This also helps keep the skin crispy.



3) Challandais Duck Roasted With Dukkah Spices, Vegetable Tartlet, Plum Chutney And Jus


Caneton challandais rôti aux épices dukkah, tartelette de lêgumes chutney et jus aux prunes


The Challans duck is a unique breed and emblematic of the Challans region in France. It’s a great favourite of the family and a regular feature on our menus at The Waterside Inn and Le Normandie by Alain Roux. The special blend of spices mixed with the vinegar in the sauce is truly delicious and makes for an exotic dish.


To get the best from the duck, or any poultry, remember to remove it from the fridge for 20 minutes prior to cooking and make sure your oven is preheated. Before the duck goes in the oven, I like to render it first, to give the breast side an appetising colour and to start to dissolve and release the fat. Once cooked, I turn the bird upside down in the roasting tray for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and carving. Given the choice, I prefer to eat poultry and fish on the bone. It takes it to another far juicier, tastier level.



4) Sliced Pears And Blueberries In Shortbread Biscuits, Served With A Coulis Of Red Fruits


Sablé aux poires et myrtilles sur coulis de fruits rouge


I love this dessert for its simplicity, delicacy and freshness. It has become a classic, as popular with our family as with our guests. My father used to prepare it for the Rothschild family when entertaining their guests. He would make a large size sablé to serve at the table, to be sliced into portions. Since my father and uncle opened Le Gavroche, we have served it as individual portions and it remains a firm favourite at The Waterside Inn and now Le Normandie by Alain Roux.


When choosing the pears, it's important to use the best available that are in season. It could be a Comice or Asian pear, both are delicious and perfect for this dish. The pears are poached in a syrup, delicately sweetened depending on the sweetness of the fruits, until they have an almost melting texture. Inside the shortbread sablé, is hidden a naughty surprise, a delicious zabaglione cream flavoured with pear liqueur. Encasing the pears and zabaglione, are the delicious shortbread sable biscuits. The key to a melt-in-your-mouth texture is to ensure the dough is freshly homemade, taking care not to overwork it. The biscuits must be cut neither too thick nor too fragile and thin. Served with a final flourish of red berry fruits and coulis, this dish is simply heaven on a plate.



5) Warm Raspberry Soufflé


Soufflé chaud aux framboises


This is a great family classic. We are well known for our savoury and sweet soufflés and this is one of the most popular. Again, my father used to serve this to the Rothschild family. It regularly features on our menus at The Waterside Inn and Le Normandie by Alain Roux. One of our guests summed it up perfectly, claiming the soufflé was “better than sex!” Its texture is like a soft, warm cloud and must be eaten to be believed.


I recommend this dish is made when raspberries are in season and at their best. Another secret is to use “old” egg whites that have been kept in the fridge for a couple of days. Even better is to freeze some fresh egg whites for a couple of days and defrost them before use. Before starting to whisk, add a pinch of salt to the whites, to achieve shiny, soft peaks. Then, it is important to fold gently the egg whites and fruit together, taking care not to overwork. Make sure your oven is preheated and use an oven timer. Just one extra minute in the oven can make quite a difference to the texture of the soufflé. If you decide to finish the soufflé with a thin veil of icing sugar, take care to ensure you give a very light dusting. It’s lovely to serve a sauce with your soufflé, such as our raspberry coulis, but make sure it’s warmed gently first. Perhaps the most important lesson left to learn about soufflés, is to run to the table and serve as soon as possible!


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All Imagery is provided by Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.


Book your table at The Waterside Inn HERE


Address: The Waterside Inn, Ferry Road, Bray, Berkshire, SL6 2AT, United Kingdom | Website: https://www.waterside-inn.co.uk/ | Phone: +44 (0)1628 620691 | Email: reservations@waterside-inn.co.uk | Instagram: @rouxwatersideinnbray | Facebook: @TheWatersideInnBray | Twitter: @RouxWaterside | Youtube: @The Waterside Inn


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Book your table at Le Normandie HERE


Address: 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok 10500, Thailand | Phone: +66 (0) 2 659 9000 | Website: mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/chao-phraya-river/fine-dining/restaurants/french-cuisine/le-normandie| Instagram: @mo_bangkok | Facebook: @MandarinOrientalBangkok| Twitter: @MO_BANGKOK