HE CAME, he chopped, he conquered! Effervescent celebrity chef Martin Yan was his chatty self as he deftly sliced a red pepper in his inimitable style.
He quipped that if one was to emulate his chopping techniques, they would be able to feed a small village in China.
You can’t deny Yan’s charm, perfected over the years in the legendary cooking show, Yan Can Cook.
Yan was recently down for a special wine pairing Chinese dinner hosted by prominent Australian winemaker Jacob’s Creek at the Mandarin Oriental.
Apart from wowing the 200 over guests with his cooking demonstration, Yan also cleared some myths about Chinese cuisine and wine.
He admitted that Chinese dinner traditionally presented a plethora of flavours; each dish unique with distinctive flavours.
Hence one had to be careful in choosing the right kind of wine that will not overwhelm or underscore the flavours of the dishes.
“Contrary to popular belief, a typical Chinese menu, especially banquet style, can be matched perfectly with wine. You will be surprised to discover new tasting notes and experiences on your palate,” said Yan.
His presence at the event was also a result of a new partnership between the accomplished chef and Jacob’s Creek in the first ever Chinese food and wine programme — True Passion with Martin Yan — that premiered on the AFC channel in July last year.
Banking on Yan’s talent and inimitable hosting skills, the show entices the audience with an array of delectable Chinese and Asian cuisine and shows how the chef pairs the dishes with his favourite wine.
Pernod Ricad Malaysia sales and marketing director Terrence Ong said the dinner was part of a new campaign initiative to introduce to the Asian palate the rarely explored pairing between Eastern cuisine and wine.
During the dinner, Yan was in his element as he cooked up two delightful dishes, Peking Sweet and Sour Prawns and Australian Lamb Cutlets in Three Chilli Sauce, while the guests were treated to the rest of the six-course meal.
Yan, who appeared to be having loads of fun in front of the audience was introducing the ingredients to his first dish when our first course of the night arrived.
The Chilled Scallop and Jellyfish and Marinated Cherry Tomatoes set the tone as its partner, the well-known JC Steingarten Reisling, made its presence felt.
A beautiful wine with intense citrus notes and mineral acidity, it went well with the scallops.
We were impressed but it was just getting started.
Touted to be of royal origin, the Oven Baked Sea Treasure Broth Served in Coconut with Puff Pastry Crust tasted as good as it looked.
Expectantly, we cracked open the flaky crust and the content did not disappoint.
The broth infused with dried scallop, fish maw and crab meat was a riot of flavours and paired with the Reeves Point Chardonnay, the two scored top points.
Not sticking to a single appearance, the premium chardonnay with its fresh citrus melon flavours and delicate structure stayed on for the third dish, the Cantonese Styled Steamed Cod Fish with Superior Soya Sauce and Baby Cabbage.
Without kicking up much fuss, the red wine brought out the savoury flavours of the fish and the tender white flesh melted in our mouths.
While we wiped our plates clean, Yan was almost done with his first dish.
Even from afar the prawns looked juicy and succulent.
Smacking our lips, we could not wait to bite into those crunchy shells — blame it on Yan, who can make liver look good.
Paired with JC Steingarten Reisling 2007 — a full-bodied wine with rich ripe lime and grapefruit characters — The Peking Sweet and Sour Prawns was truly the star.
Even though the cooking of the prawns took all of 10-minute, the final result was mindblowing.
A melange of flavours attacked the tastebuds as we took the first bite.
Three large fresh prawns coated with sweet and sour sauce, perfect comfort food any given day.
Perhaps it was the wine, but with lowered inhibition we prised the juicy flesh away from the shells with our fingers.
Even the shells were not safe in the end as we crunched and munched away the remnants.
But the fantastic treat was not over yet as the second last dish that Yan whipped up on stage looked even better.
Whoops of joy were heard as the Australian Lamb Cutlets in 3 Chilli Sauce with Jasmine rice entered the scene.
Cooked medium-rare, the meat met its match in the JC Centenary Hill Shiraz.
The delicious wine with intense plum and spice notes elicited the required taste from the lamb.
Despite boasting strong flavours, there was no conflict between the meat and wine as the soft tannins of the Shiraz managed to subdue the red meat.
Yes, we were stuffed but could not say no to dessert?
How could one when it was Sweet Tempations of Chocolate and Mango and Lychee Jelly with Raspberry Coulis.
It was a sweet end to a wonderful night.
Plied with more wine, guests got chirpier and heartfelt laughter could be heard from every corner as Yan visited each table.
Smiling and obliging everyone, Yan’s most distinctive trait has to be his humility.
As fans swarmed around him, the grin never left his face and he did not exhibit any discomfort.
Raising a toast, the charismatic chef said the basic rule was to break the rules sometimes.
“Enjoy your food and wine and let your tastebuds decide what’s the best match. Experiment and don’t be confined by convention. Live a little,” said Yan.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.