Category Archives: Beef

Chez L’Amis Jean

Oh that cote de boeuf !

Wow, that previous post was a ramble – which needs to be quickly replaced with FOOD.

The photo of the food in this incredibly busy and cramped restaurant came out pretty horribly – the light was so dim and the place literally had barely any elbow room at all. But that’s not at all a reflection of the foodfoodfood of this wonderful bistrot.

Chez L’Amis Jean is in Paris, and it’s very firmly in the anti-Michelin realm of Parisien eats. Rather than three waiters per table, it’s three waiters for the entire restaurant, and I kid you not, when I say it’s cramped, believe me. Essentially the restaurant is one long banquette, with lots of little tables that are joined to make one long table. Each party is sat opposite each other, and as you are seated, the table is pulled out so that one of you can sit before being wedged in. Don’t drink too much water if you’re sitting inside 🙂

The good thing about this cozy atmosphere is that you almost feel like you are at a wedding. You get to know the people sitting on either side of you, and everyone’s friendly and just happy to be inside (and on the night we were there, out of the lashing rain outside) with the warm hospitality of the staff.

And despite it being insanely full, the waitstaff were all blazingly efficient and always, always (and I truly adore this part) able to pause and wish you “bon appetite” with a smile – they truly want you to enjoy your food here. From the start, as you are waiting for your table, they serve up sharing boards of charcuterie. While you sneak looks at other tables to see what looks good (don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this), a large shared terrine with a big knife is presented to you to “have some”. It’s little touches of warmth and generosity like this that for me makes this such a memorable restaurant.

Ruiz au lait with praline and salted caramel

Not only is the food phenomenal – classic French bistro at its best, but the portions are enormous.

Knowing the portions were big, didn’t deter us from ordering what we wanted though – luckily we were happy to wander around the close-by Eiffel Tower after to walk some of our dinner off. Tres romantic !

We started our gargantuan meal with soup de Parmsan. A large bowl with crispy bacon bits and delicately sliced chives is filled in front of you with a creamy, rich, cheesy soup from a large(r) tea pot. Ridiculously delicious, and followed with the cote de boeuf – thick juicy slices of rib-eye, cooked on the bone, with generous shavings of black truffles. mmmmm…And because we truly have eyes bigger than our stomach, we ordered dessert ! Which was rice pudding served with praline and salted caramel. Rich, creamy and decadent, it was a perfectly balanced dish to balance out our dinner. Again, LARGE, again, superb.

They almost had to roll us out of there ! If you do want to go (and if you are in Paris, I really think you should), two things I would strongly recommend. First, make a booking, or don’t even bother to turn up. Secondly, go hungry.

Chez L’Amis Jean
27 Rue Malar, 75007 Paris, France

Phone:+33 1 47 05 86 89

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

A much better sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquid

***UPDATE***

Third attempt – same sauce as second attempt (straining, skimming the fat and then reducing), over quinoa. Full disclosure – I served it with the smallest onions I had just so that there was *some* semblance of vegetables. And they were excellent ! Really brings out the sweetness of the onion. If you want to do this, then add the peeled onions to the mixture during the last hour of braising.

First attempt – beef short ribs braised in red wine on soft polenta

The picture above is my first attempt at beef short ribs. The second attempt was far far better. So much better, in fact, that as soon as they were out of the oven, they were eaten (ie before I could remember to take a photo – oops). But I will update this post again with the new (!) and improved (!!) version, as I want to share what I did differently, and why.

Beef short ribs are uh-mazing. I bought two large packs of Australian beef short ribs from the Barbie Girls, each containing three gorgeously meaty, English-cut ribs. Ribs need time to cook to break down the connective tissue to make them t-e-n-d-e-r, and both times the ribs were cooked with the same ingredients.

The first time I was so eager to eat, that I forgot that ribs are a fatty cut of meat, and a lot of that renders out during the long cooking process. The end result was beautifully tender meat, but in an overly oily and thin sauce.

The second time I made this dish, I spent the time and effort to strain the sauce, skim as much fat as possible, and reduce the sauce, before adding the ribs and the sauce back in the same pot, and putting them back in the oven for another hour. It’s a little more effort for a far superior end result, with a rich, gravy-like sauce coating the entire rib. Full of flavour without the oiliness from my first attempt.

I also served the ribs the first time, over soft polenta. Weirdly, unlike pork ribs, which I like to serve with something contrastingly crunchy and refreshing, like a fresh coleslaw, I want to eat beef ribs with a similarly soft texture. But I think the polenta, while texture-wise was perfect, was carb-heavy, leaving a feeling of being really very full (OK, perhaps that was also down to pure portion size). The second time, I served it with cauliflower cheese. Yes, it’s rich from the cheese, but I think it’s the lack of carbs in that pairing … that left us with space for dessert (because let’s face it, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious – it’s pure indulgence).

Looong story over. I’ll have to make it again just so I can update the photo with the improved recipe.

Beef short ribs braised in red wine

Ingredients:

  1. Beef short ribs – bone in – about 2.5kg
  2. 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  5. Half a bottle of red wine – something heavier like a cabernet or even a shiraz I think works best
  6. 400ml beef stock
  7. *optional* Splash of brandy or port for a nice intense sweet undercurrent
  8. Sprig of rosemary
  9. Sprig of thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves

Method (the best way)

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ribs well – this will add depth of flavour from the caramelised sugars in the meat.
  2. In a large, heavy-based dutch oven or casserole dish, saute the onions, celery and carrot in some olive oil until soft
  3. Drain the oil from the skillet and transfer the meat to the dutch oven
  4. Add the wine, stock, brandy, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the pot. Ideally the ribs should be submerged in the liquid. Add additional stock or water if there isn’t enough
  5. Cover, and pop into your oven at 160C (320F) for 3 hours
  6. After 3 hours, take out the pot, take out the meat (it will already be tender and starting to fall off the bone) and carefully strain the liquid
  7. Discard what you’ve strained out – all those vegetables and herbs have imparted all their flavour in the sauce
  8. Return the liquid to the pot on high heat, and reduce by at least 30% – this will take about 20-30 minutes
  9. Pop the meat back in to the pot, cover, and return pot to the oven for another hour. There will be less liquid so the meat won’t be entirely covered, but don’t worry, the steam will help to cook any uncovered meat
  10. Serve with cauliflower cheese

Pasar Bella

Giant paella being cooked

Hurrah for Pasar Bella ! It’s been open for a few months now, and we finally went yesterday to our utter delight. Finally Singapore has a selection of good food purveyors, offering beautiful cuts of meat, deliciously smelly cheeses, organic vegetables, fresh seafood and yummy bites – all under one airconditioned roof.

Despite the fact that most of the produce is imported – it still gives me the same feeling as a true farmers market where everything is sourced locally. Or one of the European markets like the Mercato Central in Florence where you have the similar stall after stall of everything good to eat.

Bone-in Rib-eye Steak

We found James’ Butchery & Co where we bought a ridiculously large bone-in rib-eye steak. And after chatting with James, ended up buying lamb chops, thick rib-eye and striploin steaks, beef brisket, and osso bucco with the intent of going back next time to try the pork and chicken that he has to offer. Amazing. James also gave us advice on how long to finish the bone-in rib-eye in the oven, after searing well on the stove first (15-20 minutes for medium rare).

The Cheese Ark is a dark cavernous room where four obviously cheese-loving women will tell you anything and everything about the cheese they offer. We bought cheeses that we’ve never even heard about and enjoyed them last night after dinner.

Vibrant green and purple kale

Of course every market needs to have organic produce and at the Organic Grocer I was delighted to finally find the elusive-in-Singapore, kale ! That’s been pan-fried and served with the steak last night, been added to a soup today, and currently baking in the oven to make kale chips. Yes, I’ve been waiting eagerly for a long time to get my hands on this delicious leafy vegetable.

The AMAZING roast pork belly at Roast & Host

By this stage we had our hands literally full and we will happily make the trek to Turf City again, but an honourable mention needs to go out to Roast & Host by Keith and Kin. We’d worked up quite an appetite after all that shopping and we followed our nose to Roast & Host. Ribbons of crispy crackling greeted us. It was so popular that they couldn’t cook the pork quickly enough for demand and we had to wait a while before we went back and were rewarded with the most awesome roast pork.

Happy happy happy is all I can say – well done and THANK YOU to the organisers of Pasar Bella !

Pasar Bella
PasarBella @ The Grandstand Bukit Timah Singapore
200 Turf Club Road Singapore 287994
Tel: +65 6887 0077

Open daily from 9.30am – 7.00pm


Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse

The amazing shellfish plateau

Nestled in Gemmil Lane, Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse welcomes you in with its clean lines of decor, high ceilings, and flooded with natural light.

The menu is clean and simple, and sticks to it’s “chop house” roots. We decided to go with the two specialties of the house, starting with the seafood platter, and then Luke’s bone-in tenderloin au poivre.

The shellfish plateau is one of the best we have ever had. And we’ve had our fair share of seafood platters in Sydney, which has access to the most amazingly fresh and delicious seafood.

Chilled whole lobster, giant shrimp, two varieties of oysters, tuna tartare and fresh crab salad. There were dipping sauces for the the lobster, shrimp and oysters but honestly all they needed was a good squeeze of lemon to appreciate the delicate sweetness of each. Absolutely divine.

Luke’s bone-in tenderloin with a peppercorn crust and mustard cognac jus 

We ended up sharing the tenderloin for our main, cooked on the bone for added flavour. Unfortunately I didn’t read that it came with a peppercorn crust & mustard cognac jus. It’s not at all that it tasted bad, but both seemed to challenge the bold flavour of the tenderloin. But kudos to the selection of meat. Tender and absolutely delicious.

I’d like to try other the other items they had on their menu but to be honest, I’d find it hard to go past that shellfish plateau again. And again. And again 🙂

Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse
20 Gemmill Lane, Singapore
Tel: 6221 4468

 Open: Mon-Sat 12.00 – 24.00 (closed Sundays)

Heston’s Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese

After watching the spaghetti bolognese episode from Heston Blumenthal’s “In Search of Perfection”, I had the luxury of a day at home and basically tried to replicate the 8 hour long recipe. Most slow cooking is actually very simple, just allowing time to do the job of bringing out all the wonderful flavours of the ingredients.

This recipe has you actually cooking for probably half that time. In search of Heston has the entire step by step process in wonderful detail – go and check it out.

If you wanted a traditional bolognese sauce, then this isn’t it. However, you do end up with seriously, the most perfect meat ragu. All those steps give you a rich, complex, utterly delicious ragu.  This is probably the only Heston recipe that I would follow end to end simply because there are no special ingredients or tools required. Would I do it again ? Probably not – it’s just too time consuming and fiddly, but there are a few processes that I’d borrow the next time I’m making my own bolognese sauce.

What would I borrow ?

1) I already use a mix of beef and pork but I do like that the pork and beef are hand cut – the long slow process of cooking allows the meat to render all the fat and become wonderfully tender and I think it makes for a more unctuous sauce

2) Adding star anise to the frying onions. Not more than 2 small stars, or it will end up overpowering the meat, but it’s the chemical reaction of the star anise and caramelising onions that brings out a compound that enhances the meat flavour

3) Using fish sauce as one of the seasoning ingredients. It does add a wonderful depth and umami to the dish

4) Making the tomato compote and frying the tomatoes before adding it to the meat casserole I think intensified the flavour of the tomatoes (although I’d probably cheat and just use tinned tomatoes as I hate skinning and deseeding tomatoes)


The Handburger

Fancy a quick burger in Singapore ? Then check out the Handburger. Nothing fancy, but serves decent burgers, and it’s conveniently in Raffles City, which, for me, means the added bonus of not having to schlep across town just for a burger (and yes, I know in Singapore that’s just a short 15 minute cab ride away but everything’s relative when you live a 5 minute walk away).

It’s Diner-style American fare, and you don’t linger there, you just go to eat.

I’m a burger “purist” – just give me a standard beef burger. In this case, it’s with 100% grass-fed beef, and comes with melted cheese, some lettuce and tomato (ticks the “I am eating vegetables” box) and this insanely good onion jam that brings the whole lot together. The burger buns are made on the premises and has the light consistency of a brioche but without the sweetness.

They have tons of other burger options, from duck to pulled pork or even seafood, if that floats your boat. Oh, and speaking of floats, they have root beer floats, which went fantastically well with my burger 🙂

The Handburger
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-77/78 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6334 4577

Open:
Sun – Thurs: 11.30am – 10.00pm
Fri/Sat: 11.30am – 10.30pm

Tender beef brisket with salsa verde

I’m still on a Le Creuset high and I’ve discovered a butcher at the nearby Tekka Markets in Little India that does all sorts of cuts of meat that I can’t easily find at my local supermarket (read: Tekka Markets = HEAVEN)

I went there in search of beef short ribs and ended up coming home with the ribs (post to come) and a giant slab of beef brisket. Inspired by a combination of a weekend of watching various cooking shows, with Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay both cooking delicious beef brisket, and my memory of the amazing panino bollito from Da Nerbone in Florence, I started making this dish in the morning, for dinner.

The result was ultra-soft meltingly tender beef that I sliced (actually shredded because it was so soft) and served with a fresh salsa verde on a baguette that I quickly dipped into the cooking juices. And I now also have a large pot of delicious beef stock which I will be storing first overnight in the fridge, skimming off the fat in the morning and then pour into ziplock bags that will be stored flat in my freezer.

Ingredients

  1. 2kg beef brisket
  2. 1 glass white wine
  3. 2 large onions cut into chunks
  4. 3 sticks celery, roughly sliced
  5. 2 large carrots, roughly sliced
  6. 1 head garlic
  7. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 5 cloves
  10. sea salt

For the salsa verde

  1. large handful flat parsley leaves
  2. good pinch of sea salt flakes
  3. good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2-3 shallots, finely diced
  5. 2 tbls red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Season the brisket with a generous amount of salt on both sides and then roll and tie your brisket. You could probably keep it flat, but I think rolling it helps when it needs to be sliced and served
  2. Heat up some oil on medium high in a dutch oven (or any cast iron or heavy-based pan with a lid)
  3. Brown the brisket on all sides – really get some colour on it
  4. Once browned, remove the brisket, and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine to release all those sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. The wine will quickly evaporate
  5. Reduce the head to medium and add the onions, gently sweating them for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery and continuing to cook them till they slightly soften
  6. Put the beef back in, nestling it in amongst the vegetables and add the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves, and then add enough water to just cover the beef
  7. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce the heat so that it’s at gently simmer. Let it slowly blip away, covered for 7 hours. You can also put the whole thing in your oven on 150 C / 300 F (I prefer it on the stove so I can easily peek in). If there is any beef uncovered by the water, turn it over halfway
  8. For the salsa verde: add the diced shallots to the red wine vinegar and set aside
  9. In a mortar and pestle, add the parsley leaves with the salt (make sure you use salt flakes as it helps to create more friction to help break down the parsley leaves) and pound/grind until you end up with bright green mush
  10. Add the olive oil to the parsley/salt mix
  11. Combine the parsley oil with the shallot/vinegar mix
  12. To eat: spread the salsa verde on your bun
  13. Dipping into the juices is optional – I dipped the super crusty end of my baguette
  14. Top with a generous amount of the sliced/shredded beef brisket and tuck in !

Morton’s UDSA Prime Burger – the best burger in Singapore ?

Morton’s is an institution in Singapore. The restaurant is renowned for their succulent steaks and seafood, and the bar, well, their martinis are pretty legendary.

There are tons of places I’ve heard or read of in Singapore, reputed to have “the best burger in Singapore”, but in the mood for a classic burger, I figured why chance it – let’s go to Morton’s for their USDA prime burger.

At dinner time, it’s only served in the bar (the one next to the restaurant, not the martini lounge). It’s dim there. As in, squintingly so (I’m blaming the light, not my poor eyesight), but there’s a true retro feel about the entire restaurant. It makes you feel like you should have dressed up in your furs (sorry PETA) and diamonds to have the pleasure to dine there.

Now on to this famed burger – the photo does the burger no justice, so you’re going to have to trust me on this.

The kitchen considerately halved the burger and served us on two plates, but I’d imagine when it is whole, to be a towering beast of a burger. It comes with pretty much everything – enormous beef patty, perfectly seasoned and cooked just right at medium rare, so it was juicy and succulent, cheese, crispy bacon and sauteed mushroom and onions.

Served with hand cut fries – thick cut, crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside – there was also a small “garnish”, which included fresh tomato and sliced red onion, both of which added some freshness and crunch to each big mouthful of burger.

Messy, juicy and utterly delicious – it’s everything you want in a burger, right down to the lightly toasted sesame seed bun.

OK, I know I have to give other burger joints a chance now – any suggestions on challengers for this grand title ?

Morton’s Bar 12.21
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Fourth Storey
5 Raffles Avenue
Marina Square, Singapore
Tel: 6339 3740

Bar 12.21 open
Monday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm
Sunday 5pm – 10pm


Waku Ghin’s signature sea urchin with botan shrimp and Oscietre caviar

Tetsuya Wakuda is one of my favourite chefs from my visits to Tetsuya’s in Sydney – back in Rozelle and also when it moved to Kent Street. I have always admired his ability to pair pure and distinct flavours so beautifully. I finally got to go to Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands this week, and what a treat it was.

Your meal is served primarily in small 8-seater rooms in front of a teppanyaki grill and with your personal chef for the evening. Counter seating is always my preference – it gives you an opportunity to talk to the chef, see the produce, watch him cook, and also sneakily take a peek at what others are ordering to inspire you to try new things.

With a set 10-course degustation menu, you don’t get the chance to do the latter, but we did get a preview of the first course from the other couple who were seated in our room and who had arrived before us. By the third course, the team at Tetsuya had deftly managed to catch the four of us up so we were all served the remaining savoury courses at the same time.

Chilled white asparagus soup with white miso and Oscietre caviar

We started with a chilled cream of white asparagus soup with white miso cream and Oscietre caviar. What a way to start a meal. The soup was so silky and so full of flavour of the delicate white asparagus you really wished there was more (that was the common theme for all the dishes during the evening, actually).

Second was Waku Ghin’s signature dish – marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietre caviar, stunningly presented in a half shell of sea urchin. To be eaten with a mother-of-pearl spoon, you are recommended to eat every mouthful with a bit of all three, and with each you get the sweetness of the prawn and sea urchin and the explosion of saltiness from the caviar. This has got to be up there as one of my favourite dishes ever.

Slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant

Third course was slow-cooked John Dory with roasted eggplant and a chicken stock reduction. Our chef explained to us how they made the chicken stock and the laborious and complex processes to ensure only the clean flavour of the chicken was extracted and reduced. An odd pairing with fish and eggplant, and I think the chicken stock reduction tied the dish together well.

Australian abalone with fregola, rocket, seaweed and tomato

Next up was fresh Australian abalone, simply seared on the teppan and served with fregola, tomato, rocket and seaweed. This was about as rare as I have ever had abalone, miles away from the more chewy abalone you usually get at Chinese banquets. This was fresh and succulent and sweet and presented in this way almost was like eating it straight from the sea.

Braised Canadian lobster with tarragon

Braised Canadian lobster came next, quintessentially French-style, in a stock made from the lobster shells, finished with butter and tarragon. Again, the lobster was cooked so that it was just to the point past being raw, allowing the sweetness and the tenderness of the lobster to shine.

The beautifully marbled Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll

Two beef dishes followed. The first was charcoal grilled fillet of Tasmanian grass-fed  beef with Tetsuya’s own-brand wasabi mustard. The chef seared these in front of us on the teppan before slicing them into bite-sized pieces of beef so tender you felt that you could cut it with a butter knife. Nothing fancy here, just a fillet of beef on your plate and tasted great with or without the wasabi mustard.

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll with wasabi and citrus soy

Japanese Ohmi wagyu roll from Shiga Prefecture came next. Just looking at the gorgeous marbling on the raw beef filled the room with oohs and aahs. I think it was because we knew that that marbling would be melt-in-the-mouth flavour once cooked. It was served with freshly-grated wasabi, fried garlic slices, thinly sliced Japanese negi and a citrus soy dipping sauce. Similar to the fillet, I tried the beef on its own and then with a little bit of all the condiments and in this instance, the inclusion of everything made the marvelous wagyu sing in your mouth.

Consommé with rice and snapper

Final savoury dish was a consommé with rice and snapper followed with a palate-cleansing cup of gyokuro, tea made from green tea that has been grown in the shade. A touch of yuzu zest to the consommé lifted the dish making it a clean and refreshing end to the meal. And the tea, which was brewed with water at just 40C had a distinct savoury, seaweed flavour. Absolutely perfect example of umami.

Selection of exquisite petit fours to end a perfect meal

We were almost sad to be moved out of our private dining area to a more traditional dining area to eat have our final two courses of dessert – mostly because it was an indication that the meal was coming to its end. I have to be totally honest and say that Tetsuya’s desserts have never wowed me the same way his savoury dishes do, and this was no different. We were served a cold soup of strawberry with lychee and coconut and what turned out to be my birthday cake, a milk chocolate cake with caramel and citrus. Both were delicious – as were the petit fours, but my memory of Waku Ghin is firmly, and happily, within the walls of the private dining room.

Waku Ghin
Casino Level 2
Access lifts located:
B1 & Opposite ArtBox at Level 1
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 8507

Open for lunch on Fridays 11.30am – 1.30pm
Dinner two seatings 6pm and 8.30pm


Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse

Open just three months, Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse on Mohamed Sultan Road specialises in authentic Tuscan cuisine, including bistecca fiorentina – charcoal-grilled T-Bone steak that weighs in at more than 1kg.

The deliciously tender fillet steak

I’d like to go with a huge group of people, just so that we could order everything on the menu. There are plenty of options for non-steak-lovers, but both of us were in a beefy mood, so we decided on the fillet steak instead of the bistecca. We could then order our steaks as we preferred (mine was medium rare, D medium). The beef is organic, dry-aged Australian Wagyu-Holstein. Highly marbled, the thick fillet steak came out perfectly cooked, and so tender you could have used a butter knife to cut through it. And it tasted so good that you didn’t either of the two condiments that each steak comes with. The steaks don’t come with anything – we were recommended the mashed potatoes but decided on char-grilled asparagus with lemon oil which came out as five thick spears, perfectly cooked so that they still had some crunch to them.

Char-grilled asparagus with lemon oil

We shared a starter of heirloom tomatoes, rocket, burrata and parma ham. I think tomatoes are one of the basics that any good restaurant should have access to, and the heirloom tomatoes in our starter tasted like they had just been plucked off a vine basking in the Southern Italian sun. The acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes was perfectly balanced with the creaminess of the burrata, the pepperiness of the rocket and the saltiness of the parma ham.

Chocolate lava cake with candied orange peel

We wisely shared the first course, because we then had space for dessert. I had the chocolate lava cake with candied orange peel and D had the chocolate mousse tart with salty caramel. A small and beautifully sweet way to end a splendid meal.

Chocolate mousse tart with salted caramel

A true taste of Italy that took us back to our recent trip to Florence, this is definitely a place we’ve earmarked to go back to for more.

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse
25 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: +65 6735 6739