Today I attended the second lesson of my International Certification in Cuisine at Taylor’s University College Malaysia. I actually quite like the lessons, always packed with new things to learn and hands on practice. Today the menu was quite elaborate, with lamb kofta served with pita bread, coriander flavoured pumpkin soup, and glazed duck breast with semolina and jackfruit. We had so much to prepare and cook that there was basically no time in between for me to shoot the dishes I prepared. It was fun though, and the dishes were delicious!
Today the dishes involved quite a bit of dicing, one of the most important basic skills in Western cuisine. From onion to garlic to mint to red chili, from larger cubes to tiny pieces, we got to polish our dicing skills for sure!
Caption: Dicing onion…Chef Rex did it with such a breeze…the secret lies in not cutting away the root part of the onion totally…so that you can hold that with your other hand while the hand holding the knife will be slicing the onion away…sort of acts as an anchor.
Caption: Fine dicing chili and English parsley for the lamb kofta.
The first dish we prepared, lamb kofta with pita bread, was one of the best pita bread with lamb that I’ve tasted in a long long time! And it was my first time cooking lamb kofta too. The cooked lamb kofta was finished with a yogurt, mint and cumin dressing, so light and refreshing! It gave an Indian-Middle Eastern flavour that was indeed very appealing and appetizing! Plus it’s so easy to make that you can be done in under 20 minutes!
Procedure to cook lamb kofta with pita bread:
Caption (From left to right, top to bottom): Frying the lamb kofta with olive oil, diced onion and chili; grill pita bread on a hot griddle after lightly brushed with olive oil; prepare dressing (3 tbsp yogurt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, finely diced mint, shallot, garlic and chili, seasoned with pinch of salt and pepper); mix dressing with cooked lamb kofta.
Final results (these were made by me):
Next, we made coriander flavoured pumpkin soup. Before I went to class today, I had a glimpse of the menu, thinking to myself, “Pumpkin soup…how hard can it be???”
Well, I was quite wrong. First, we had to prepare chicken stock (this was done right at the start of the class today, as it took about 30 minutes to boil the stock). Then we had to sweat (means frying with fats on very low heat, trying not to damage the colour of the ingredients) the pumpkin, leek, onion and coriander before adding in the chicken stock and let it simmer until pumpkin soften. Followed by blending the soup in a jar blender before finishing off with cream and seasoning. It’s probably the most elaborate pumpkin soup I’ve ever made, but the result was absolutely amazing – rich and flavourful!
Procedure to make pumpkin soup:
Firstly, prepare chicken stock. As you can see, the stock was prepared with chicken bones and vegetables (shallots, leek, celery, carrot, thyme). Again, cold water was used instead of hot water to give a clear stock.
Caption: Sweating the vegetables for the pumpkin soup (left), and boiling the soup after adding in the chicken stock.
Caption: Finishing off the pumpkin soup. After blending the soup when the pumpkin cubes become soft, return soup to stove on low heat, cream was added, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The soup was finished with a light touch of whipped cream on top before serving.
My version (too much whipped cream on top!):
The last dish was the most elaborate and time consuming. There were 4 main steps involved in preparing the glazed duck breast dish.
First, marinate the duck breast with crushed green, red pepper (you can use fresh or canned ones) and Sichuan pepper, balsamic vinegar, honey and rock salt for around 30 minutes (Our duck breasts were imported from France!):
Then, caramelize sugar before adding balsamic vinegar on very low heat. Add in the duck breast with the skin on the pan/skillet together with the marinade. Leave for a minute or so before finishing off the duck breast in the oven.
While duck breast is cooking in the oven, prepare semolina. Fry olive oil with finely diced garlic, dried chili, thinly sliced shallot and curry leaves. Add semolina flour, stir evenly. Then add chicken stock and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Cooked semolina flour should have a thick and starchy texture.
Next, prepare jackfruit. Dice jackfruit into small cubes, and finely dice coriander leaves. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well.
To finish and serve the duck breast, remove from oven, slice thickly and serve on the semolina and with jackfruit with balsamic vinegar.
Chef Rex’s version (see how delicate his is compared to mine below haha):
And my version. (Overcooked!)
Again, the lighting wasn’t very good as I just shot with whatever lights available in the kitchen. I didn’t have much time to shoot the dishes that I made myself, we were running out of time, but I really enjoyed it as I learned a few new skills and to fine tune what I already know. I didn’t attach the full recipes here as I am not sure if Taylor’s College would let me publish them online!
For story on the first lesson of the cooking class, go here.
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