Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chocolate Room at Soneva Fushi

When talking to guest about the resort I work in I always compare it to a chefs paradise, partly because I can buy the best products from every where, then I have a great team that makes the best out of these products and I have guests who truly enjoy our offering.
But there is more, we have an organic garden that falls under me and I will tell you more in another blog about it, we have 3 amazing a la carte restaurants serving true Japanese foods, progressive Mediterranean and fusion Asian food, we do special events, sandbank dinners, organic garden lunches, buffets BBQ's and more.
Now our main buffet area has some really amazing features, something one will not find everywhere. One of these features is the Chocolate Room. It is most probably the absolute favored room by everybody on the island. All the chocolates are hand made with the best chocolate. We are buying different brands but some of the best is Valrhona Chocolate. I buy a very special chocolate from them which is their Fair Trade brand. Yes it costs a little more but here at Soneva we like to do our part in sustainability and Fair Trade chocolate is one part of it. Most of the chocolates we do is made from dark chocolate. There is a lot of healthiness to dark chocolate, I am not going too much into it, but yes, a little bit of dark chocolate improves your health....a little bit, hehehe!!!!
We change the chocolates all the time, at any given time we have at least 15 different chocolate on the buffet. The room is perfectly air conditioned, so the chocolates will stay nice and hard. Even the plates are made out of chocolate, like all the show pieces in the back ground. I have to say that I am blessed with a very creative team of chefs.
In the morning we serve only chocolate pastries in this room, chocolate croissants, chocolate bread and more, then it gets changes for our Pralines during the day.....yes the room is open all day and only gets locked at night.

We like to play a little with the flavors, one of the stranger combinations is dark chocolate with goats cheese. Sometimes we use blue cheese which I think goes a little better. Then of course we combine all the fruits into ganache, like raspberries, passion fruit, coconut, and blueberries. Then we like of course the classic flavors, coffee, toffee and salted caramel. We got the hot and exotic ones, the pink pepper, chili and ginger,
Then there are little chocolate lollipops, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered nuts. There is chocolate mousse, chocolate brownies and yes, there are huge chocolate slabs that one just want to take a bite.

Yes, the chocolate room is one of the reasons I love working in this absolutely wonderful spot, want to come and visit??????? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tokyo Fish Market

Another blast from the past, a little bit from my travels while working on some of the most amazing cruise ships. This time it is about the visit of the Tokyo Fish Market, something that will always stay in my memory. I think it is one of the most amazing markets in the world and it was an eye opener for me at the same time....but let me tell you the whole story
While being the Executive Chef on "The World" we spent a couple of days in the port of Tokyo as part of our one month circumnavigation of Japan. During this time I had a little time to explore this amazing city, amazing in every aspect as basically nobody speaks English and all the roads are marked in Japanese only. The city is absolutely huge, so one better does not get lost in it.
One of the adventures I had was going to the Tokyo Fish Market, the biggest in the world and famous for its tuna auction which happens every morning. We got up nice and early, outside was still dark, so around 4.00 in the morning we were in the taxi to get to the market. It was still cold outside as it was early spring, but all the excitement we had was enough to keep us warm.
One of the most amazing parts of the Fish market is the Tuna Auction. All the tuna is lying on wooden pallets and are ready for inspection. All of them are frozen and will sell for a lot of money. For Japanese freshness of the fish is paramount, so why would they buy frozen fish? It is actually quite simple, Tuna is caught all over the world, the boats are sometimes out for many month. To keep the fish fresh it will be shock frozen, that means it will be put through a freezer line that freezes a big tuna in minutes. Like this the ice crystals are very small and won't deter the quality. 
When the tuna gets defrosted carefully, the meat will still be in perfect condition. So to buy a top quality frozen fish is actually not a bad thing, I rather have that then a "fresh" fish that might be already in the shop for days. But everything else on the market is super fresh and sometimes still alive.
Another amazing part is to see how everybody works, the ethics the camaraderie, the team work. The best example is when they fillet a tuna, the fish is so big that one needs more than one person to do the job. Sometimes up to three people help with the filleting. They use a special knife that is about two Meters long, flexible and extremely sharp. With the skilled men they are able to fillet a tuna leaving none of the precious meat on the bone. I was just watching them how the quickly filleted a fish, working in complete harmony and making it look so easy
Another great par is to see all the different types of fish and seafood. Here I stood behind some New Zealand Green Shell Mussels, I had never in my life seen Green Shell Mussels of that size, I just had to have a photo with me, just to see the huge size of them. But of course there was a lot more to see. All the sea Urchin, the Hamachi, I found Guey Duck which is a clam that is mainly from the west coast of Canada, a Clam with a mussel hanging out that is up to 50 cm long. It gets mainly used for Sashimi, and of course there was so much more.
We must have spent something between 3 to 4 hours in the market and I could spend easily a lot more time there, I think I have only seen a fraction of the entire market, but the memories I have are always with me and have changed my way of thinking, especially about freshness and quality of fish, about the way the Japanese take care of the products in the market, it was a real eye opener.
I have seen many fish markets in the world, but I think this one is by far the most impressive one, the sheer size, the cleanliness of it, yes it smells of fish, but it it is all fresh, it smells of the sea. By the time we left they were already busy cleaning up the market, everybody is making sure their little stand is absolutely clean for the next day
On the way out we could see all the fish packed and ready to be delivered to thousands of restaurants, not just in Tokyo, but all over the region and some is even exported. It was a fantastic experience and I hope that some day I will be able to go back to Tokyo and it is 100% sure that I will go back to one of the most fascinating fish markets on the world

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Crab and Avocado Timbale

Another quick dish with crab, this time a starter, very easy to prepare and so delicious in the end.

The easiest way to prepare this dish is actually to buy the crab meat and if you want you can even buy the avocado puree, it will make your life a lot easier. Yes of course it is great to take the meat out of the crabs, but believe me, it takes quite a bit of time and after buying so much crab, you won't have that much meat left over......

I serve the avocado as a puree, just because it looks really nice and tastes delicious. the peppers are roasted, peeled and marinated for a while.

I like this dish a lot because it is a perfect way to start a light summer lunch or if you want to can simply make the salad bigger and enjoy the crab as a salad main course
700 G White Crab Meat
100 G Mayonaise
150 G Chopped Celery Stick
20 G Basil Leaf
150 G Red Bell Pepper
150 G Yellow Bell Pepper
150 G Green Bell Pepper
300 g Red Onion
500 G Avacado Puree
300 G Feta Cheese
150 ML Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper

Sautee crab meat with chopped onions and garlic, cool down

Finely chop the celeriac, mix with crab mix and mayonnaise

Roast the peppers in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary
Cool the peppers down in a bag, then peel
Cut the peppers in wedges and roll them up

Season the crab mix with lime juice, salt and pepper

Serve with baby leaves, cocktail tomato, avocado puree
Lime and balsamic reduction

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pepper Crab from Sri Lanka

Happy New Year to everybody!!!!

The recipes keep on coming, today another lovely recipe with crabs. The crabs we have are absolutely amazing, the meat is sweet and juicy and the way we prepare it they become a real feast. We are getting the crabs as well from Sri Lanka, so they are really nice and fresh.

As we do not fly any life animals at Soneva Fushi, the crabs we buy are quickly boiled to kill them and then flash frozen, only then they are sent to us. I think over the last couple of blogs you could see that we do things different here at Soneva Fushi. We try to keep our carbon foot print down and are busy reducing it to Zero by the end of 2014, a big thing to do. The of course we go as much as possible local, organic and sustainable.......I think in the long run this is the only way all the hotels should go but unfortunately only a small fraction is actually doing it.

So one of the things we don't do is flying life animals around half the globe that our guests can savor them, no, this is cruel to the animals so there is no way that we will do it, no oysters, no fresh lobster from US and Canada, but still we buy the best available products and have extremely happy guests......we call that as well Intelligent Luxury.

Anyway, back to our crab dish. The sauce is extremely easy as we don't want to overpower the crab, just onions, garlic and oyster sauce, a little extra pepper and that's it.

Here is the recipe

3 Kg whole Crabs
250 G Butter
750 Ml Oyster Sauce
125 G Garlic
75 G Onion
100 G Spring Onion
50 G Sugar
30 G Black Pepper Powder
1.5 Kg Steamed Rice

Cut the crabs in large pieces, crack the shells open, especially the claws
Dust the crabs in corn flour and pepper
Saute in oil for a couple of minutes, add sugar and some more pepper

Cut onions and garlic finely, then add to the crab
Add the oyster sauce, bring quickly to the boil
Toss quickly

Serve the crabs on a plate, garnish with fresh spring onions and lotus root chips

Steamed rice separate
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