Over 3.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the cook off battle between Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow on last night's Masterchef Australia finale. I am all the way for Poh (still am!) but unfortunately she is defeated and Julie from Cenral Coast crowned the title of first Masterchef Australia. In all good spirit to support my fellow Malaysian, Poh, on the show; I decided to have my little own Masterchef in the kitchen and had a Malaysian degustation dinner.
It was all bit of a rush, as I also went to the Aroma Festival at The Rocks early in the morning, came home after 3pm so didn't left much time for me to plan a 7-course degustation menu, I was really feeling the pressure as time pushes on. I am glad that I kind of pulled it off - gosh! I even finished most of the plating. Matt Preston would have been proud. I've decided to make Malaysian fusion dishes, using traditional recipe and ingredients, but with modern cooking twist. I think it works, what do you think?
The dinner is split into 2 acts - as I have to take a break from cooking and join my fellow foodbloggers on the Masterchef chat while the show is on. It is so amazing to see so many people in the Masterchef chatroom last night with fiery comments while the show was on! Not to mention all the lighthearted comments about Sarah's outfit. Thanks guys for such a great night!
First off, we have a consommé to start, silken tofu with tobiko in beef sweet broth. The soup is an appetite opener, with its simple and clean taste of sweet broth. The tobiko (flying fish roe) works like a treat on the soft tofu with the occasional pops of saltiness in the mouth. Even the Pom and Big D like it, that's how you teach white boys to eat tofu. :)
Second course is a tasting plate trio consists of tuna in XO sauce with capers Vol-au-Vont, which I made the vol-au-vont myself using puff pastry. It is simpler than than I'd imagined. Then there is also roast five-spiced pork with mustard aioli. The pork ribs are marinated overnight with fermented tofu and five spice powder then roasted in the oven until the meat is tender with an intense saltiness undertone. The most important part is of course the crackling on top. I once had the mustard aioli at Taxi Room in Melbourne and decided to use it with the roast pork. It is surprisingly good with that subtle punch in the nose heat kick on each crunch.
And the last appetizer is pork rillette, water chestnut and shiitake mushroom springroll cigar. The pork rillette is made from the extra roast pork I've prepared, shredded then pounded, mixed with chopped water chestnut and mushroom, wrapped in spring roll skin then deep fry. As I want to balance the saltiness of the roast pork with something sweet, so I added a dash of Kicap Manis (sweet thick soy sauce) which also works like an agent to bind all the ingredient together to make rolling it up in spring roll skin a lot easier.
The entree is a prawn dumpling ravioli in sweet broth. I found the most important thing about cooking is understand how to reuse the ingredient and reinvent a whole new dish so it doesn't go to waste. The prawn is minced and combined with chopped water chestnut, garlic and mushroom then wrapped in the pasta skin. Again, served in the sweet broth I prepared earlier for the consomme. I should have spend more time rolling my pasta skin and it is a little too thick on the edges (oops!), and also I probably will leave the garlic out next time as it gets a bit overwhelming towards the end.
Dinner resumes after watching Masterchef finale, broken hearted that Poh didn't win. But the show must go on, I gather myself together (~*wipe tears*) and head back to kitchen to finish up the dinner. The pre-main is one of my all time favorite dish, slow braised vinegared pork ribs (recipe here). This time I cooked in a manageable portion for three which also means the cooking time has been cut down a lot. The pork is slow braised in vinegar, kicap manis and the most important ingredient - Star Anise to give it that distinctive flavour. I served it with witlof and topped with springy hard boiled egg - my modern twist of a very traditional Chinese dish.
The main is curry chicken I've prepared the night before. I bought a whole chicken, chopped into pieces then basically just cooked it in Mr Tean's curry paste with some potato cubes. (Bet you sick of me talking about Mr Tean...) Just follow the instructions on the back of the packet, the dish is ready in the blink of an eye. The meat is so tender and simply fall off the bone. I served it with soft Roti Pratha with crispy skin, perfect match to soak up all the hot curry sauce. Again, the frozen Katoomba Roti Pratha is so so easy to make. Just heat it up on a frying pan and watch it puff! (Thanks to Chocolatesuze for the recommendation!)
The dinner is finished to a fiery end before we move onto the dessert.
I've prepared a small pre-dessert drink as a palate cleanser. A watermelon slush with tapioca in evaporated milk and a mangosteen segment - the watermelon is squashed then blended with ice cubes in a blender to make a slush, topped with some chewy tapioca (sago) and a drizzle of evaporated milk. Absolutely love chewing on the tapioca while sipping the sweet melon icy slush. The mangosteen segment is eaten afterwards to really give the palate a good sweet and soury clean. Mangosteen is not cheap here in Australia at $1.99 each even on specials, but it definitely reminds me of Malaysia, it is one of those type of tropical fruit that I grew up on.
As for dessert, unfortunately I will have to keep it a secret as it is also part of the Daring Baker challenge with one of the rules that it can't be revealed until the 27th of each month. So you will have to come back that day to drool over it. Sorry. now you can check it out here - a Milano Cookie Tuile.
It was a good meal for a good night of Masterchef Australia. What am I going to do now at 7pm every night without Masterchef, without chatting online...? If you think you can do better than Julie or Poh, why not sign up for the next season of Masterchef Australia?!