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WITH a successful BBC television series and more than 30 cookbooks to his name, celebrity chef Ken Hom still maintains a very modest and practical approach to cooking.
“Whenever I am coming up with dishes in another country, I always think about what I like to eat or something that I will make for myself and my family,” said the 63-year-old chef who was in Kuala Lumpur as one of the guest chefs for the Midsummer Nights Feast, Starhill Gallery’s annual gourmet festival held at the Shook! restaurant
Born in the US to Chinese parents, Hom was raised in Chicago, Illinois by his mother after his father passed away when he was just eight months old.
Hom gave cooking lessons to help pay his university fees and was signed on by the BBC in Britain for his first cooking series, Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery, in 1984.
Hom, who has prepared meals for heads of states, revealed during banter with host Asha Gill that his favourite food was, in fact, the simplest dish that most Chinese people can relate to: steamed Chinese sausages with rice and a fried egg topped with soy sauce.
“My mother used to serve that and it is still comfort food to me,” said Hom, who now divides his time between his homes in France and Thailand, the latter where he runs the Maison Chin restaurant.
Hom said the five-course meal he came up for the Starhill Gallery event was a mixture of Eastern and Western styles, a reflection of the maturity of Asian cooking in the 21st century.
He started the dinner with a Atlantic Salmon with Spring Onion Sauce, which was presented with a dainty slice of fried lotus root on top.
The appetiser that followed was the Refreshing Marinated Tuna and Avocado Salad and Hom said the lightly-seared tuna was the Japanese way of eating tuna.
“I like pairing it with avocado because the fruit has a rich texture,” said Hom.
Next on the menu was the Spicy Sichuan Orange Steamed Scallops, an elegant creation with a strip of spring onion wrapped around it.
“I like to prepare food that is light. Most Chinese meals end up with too much food on the table. The scallop is flavourful and it satiates the taste buds without being heavy on the stomach,” said Hom.
The main course for the night was the Crispy Crackling Poussin (young chicken) Served with Garlic-Hot Pepper, which was served on top a bed of soft mashed parsnips and garnished with split pea pods and mushrooms.
“The thing with root vegetables such as parsnips and potatoes is that it is so easy to eat and digest. Not only does it taste nice but it’s also good for you,” he said.
To wrap up the evening meal, Hom whipped up a Warm Mango Compote with Basil and Vanilla Ice-cream, which had a delightful coating of ingredients such as nuts and shallots that gave it a crunchy texture.
“I also try to use food items local to the area I’m at, which makes sense. Mangoes are beautiful here so I used them for the dessert. I also like the contrast of warm and cold so the mango is slightly warmed,” said Hom.
Guests at the dinner were also treated to a fashion show featuring designer brands in Antoinette, located in the Starhill Gallery, and entertained by the jazzy sounds of local singer Atilia.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.