At VEA, a 'Chinese x French' philosophy takes centre stage in all its curations. The Michelin-starred fine dining establishment – which also ranked in 16th place of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 – is headed by Chef Vicky Cheng (who opened WING last year, a modern manifesto of traditional Chinese cuisine). Although the VEA tasting menu pays tribute to his local childhood, the Hong Kong native also has roots in French gastronomy thanks to a noteworthy stint with highly revered Chef Daniel Boulud of the Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel in New York.
We speak to Chef Cheng on his top five tips to perfect a dish – based on his classic Crispy Sea Cucumber at VEA. "I chose this dish because it was the first signature dish at VEA and truly represent the philosophy of “Chinese x French”, he tells us. Here are some ways to apply his culinary tips.
My first tip is to find a unique way to present the dish. Our signature sea cucumber dish is totally different from how it’s traditionally served (braised in sauce with soft texture). We serve it in a crispy texture and with creamy sauce made with the shell of a shellfish we used to make the mousse stuffed inside the sea cucumber.
We make sure that we serve it as hot as possible every time as it’s best to enjoy it hot and crispy. Therefore we always have our front of house staff standby and serve it to our guests as fast as possible. The explanation of the dish is also done before the dish is served for this purpose.
We have to make sure the texture of the sea cucumber is as crispy as possible. Starting from the process of blooming the sea cucumber and storage, to the temperature of the oil that is poured over when cooking the sea cucumber are all essential elements to ensure the quality is consistent.
We have to find a way to make sure the sauce of the dish is consistent every time we served it, with the same thickness and flavour. Following the exact measurements from the recipe is important to this step so that the sauce will come out the same regardless of who is making it.
5) Nothing Is Ever Perfect
No matter how long we've had this dish on our menu, we will continue to serve, improve and strive better each time.
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