12 January 2007

A Wok Through Time

An extremely thoughtful, generous aunt of mine recently gave me an autographed copy of Sam Leong's new cookbook, A Wok Through Time. It held plenty of food porn and little odd quotes from the chef himself. In return, I intended to prepare a whole dinner using only recipes from the cookbook for her and a few other relatives. However, as I browsed through the cookbook and saw very slipshod recipe outlines, I grew a little worried. Similar to Anderson Ho's Menu Degustation: Tasting Menus of New Asia Cuisine, it took only 3 - 4 steps to create almost every dish and lacked sufficient detail for a novice chef to follow accurately.

As I soon found out though, Anderson Ho's recipes are still alright as long as you know the skills because the recipes that I've tried out resulted in great tasting dishes. But Sam Leong's recipes just don't seem to work at all. I tried out two of his recipes that required the least fuss to prepare and the flavours were just all wrong. The Bean Curd Topped with Baby Anchovies and Spring Onion was way over salted even after following the exact ingredient combination (minus the deep-friend baby anchovies). The very interesting sounding Wok-Fried and Stewed Assorted Mushrooms with Soy Bean Milk (with only a one liner under its 'Method') sounded a little exotic and exciting but was unpalatable if using the exact amount of herbs called for in the recipe. The rosemary overpowered any other flavours in the dish.

So I ended up throwing away my entire lunch and buying some comforting red bean buns to sooth my disappointment. I could be entirely wrong of course. Maybe I'm just doing something fundamentally wrong in the kitchen, or maybe my kitchen scale had decided to sabotage me. And I could tweak the recipes a little, but I'm probably not going to have enough time to try out every single recipe I intended to use for the dinner for my family. So it's back to the cookbook shelf to plan out a new menu. 'A Wok Through Time' is still going to stay on the shelf of course, as a source of inspiration and drool-worthy food porn. But I'm probably not going to try cooking from it again anytime soon. Not until I get all that rosemary out of my mouth.


Anonymous said...

marvellous.. Sam Leong. Hmm is he the chef of Tung Lok? He's a talented chef and have seen his recipe book in my sch lib before. :) Your pictures look great..whoever attached to you will be a blissful guy. have a gd wkend ya.

vanessa said...

I am sorry to hear that the cookbook didn't work out. (mental note not to purchase it)

Sherwin said...

what's this? one failed meal and you stop posting! free a a bird right? post more!!!! haha.. miss having you around in warwick! you want an update? it's OWW, Hikaru flew back from Tokyo to take part and it snowed yesterday! short and sweet. hope all's well in Singapore!

Anonymous said...

Anon>I believe he is, perhaps his other cookbooks are better or I just happened to choose the wrong recipes to try. :)

Vanessa> That wasn't my intention! It is actually very inspiring to look through the cookbook for some modern chinese cuisine ideas. And the Braised Lobster La Mian recipe looks and sounds so yummy I might just go against my instincts and try it too!

Sherwin> I miss staying over at your Kensington place, sleeping with Rach or Germ, and clowning around late into the nights in my sad, sick, pathetic state. Also miss getting my fingers frozen off playing tennis with you and cheryl in winter. And of course I didn't STOP posting, I was just super busy. You want an update? I changed from selling pots to selling chocs but I'm starting my real work soon! Short and sweet too, heh.