Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cheese Room at Soneva Fushi

I think it is time to brag a bit again. It has been a while since I last wrote about the resort I am working for as Executive Chef. This time I like to show you some photos of our cheese and cured meats room.

Like the chocolate room, the cheese room is always open and mostly it is included in the room price. Mostly meaning during breakfast and lunch you can go wild, but if you feel like a nibble some artisan cheeses and cured meats during dinner or late afternoon, then we charge a small fee.
I spend a lot of time with the sourcing of these cheeses and meats. We have one main supplier, called Vanilla Venture where we buy most of our products from, but from time to time I can find something else that is special and I will put it in the Deli Room.

From time to time we have as well the owner of Vanilla Venture coming out here to do some training with the chefs. This is really important as most of the cheeses are really special. They are made in small batches, many times from raw milk. One of my favorite cheeses is the Tomme that is made from Goats milk, something really special.
The same is for the cured meats. We don't just have Parma Ham, no, we have different types of Pata Negra, the famous Spanish ham, we have the Ham from Bayonne, one of the best available, everything is local, the meat, the herbs and even the salt for curing comes from the River that is in that region.

Of course we have Asagio Speck from South Tyrol, a cured ham that is smoked as well for a wonderful intense flavor. We have about 5 types of salami, from Italy and Spain, I could not tell you which one is the best, they all taste fantastic
We have the possibility that you cut your own meat or we have a couple of plates of pre-cut delicacies. One of them I just have to mention is the Truffled is just so sexy, the smell of the truffles, the finesse of the meat, all just too good to eat!
Then of course there are all the condiments, the olives which we marinate ourselves, the Kumquat jam, the Membrillo, a Spanish quince pate and of course the freshly baked bread. Now I am sure you can imagine why I have a daily quality control here in the Deli Room, just have to make sure all the meat and cheese is top!

I think I can say that the chocolate and the cheese room are something absolutely unique here in Maldives. I have not heard about any hotel that has something similar. This is why Soneva Fushi is well known for the food, it is not just the cooking, but as well the special offering we have here for our guests.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Homemade Pork Sausage

Over 6 month ago I wanted to start making our own sausages here at Soneva Fushi and finally, the day has arrived that we have made our first batch. The sausage machine arrived about 2 weeks ago, we got finally the sausage skins, so there is no stopping anymore.
Have I made sausages before? Yes, once about 20 years ago, so I can't say that I am a master sausage makes, but what I can say is that I love sausages and that is enough.
Of course I read up a little on how sausages are made, we are going very simple here with no preservatives, my pork sausages must look like sausages and not like pink, ugly things. So off we go
First I had to clean the machine nicely, it just came out of the box and there was still a lot of wrapping on it, but then that was one. We don't have always the right pork cuts, so I just took some of the pork necks we had and put them through the mincer, that was easy. But of course I wanted a special sausage, not just a simple pork sausage, so I started to chop some onions and garlic and cut a whole load of Granny Smith apples in cubes. I took some very good EV Olive oil and sauteed the onions and garlic till glassy, but no color, than added the apples. Simmer till al dente and voila, that was it. I let the mix cool down completely.
Then I thought that in a meat loaf one always puts some bread and eggs in it. I did not want to add the eggs, but I know that old bread binds the meat nicely, so I just soaked it in some milk.
So far everything was very easy, I mixed all the ingredients together and added the seasoning, honey, salt and pepper. Of course as any good chef, I had to taste my mix, but no, I really don't want to eat raw I made a small patty and fried it, yummie, yes it was good, just a little more salt and it is perfect.
Still everything is very easy......but then cam the tricky part. I had to put the sausage skin on the machine which was a lot more difficult than expected. The skin tears quite easily and I had to be patient with my work. But at the end it was done, I had the filling in the machine and started turning.......ohhhhh I made a little knot in front to avoid the sausage mix to just come out, that did not work because now my sausage filled with air instead of I cut the tip off and it worked well.
To fill the sausage is OK, one just has to be patient, not to turn the machine too fast and at the same time to make sure the skin is sliding off the nozzle easily. The result: An acceptable sexy sausage that just needed to be turned and fried.
When turning the sausage (like making the individual sausages) one sees immediately if the right amount of meat is in the sausage, if it is too much it will burst, if it is too little, then it is just not so pretty, but OK.
Finally, after more than 6 Month of waiting, I had the first homemade Pork and Apple Sausage in the pan, wow was I excited and the smell started to come up, the sausages started to take color, I turned them around a couple of times and........yes they were absolutely fantastic. I was so happy, my day was made, nothing could go wrong anymore.....
The the chefs had a try, we laughed a lot, of course some jokes were made, some really pretty and some really ugly sausages were produced, but the main reason is, we have now our homemade sausages. We will start making different sausages, beef, chicken, lamb, fish and more. We all learned a lot this morning and had a great time with our new toy, the sausage machine

So here is the recipe if you want to try at home, trust me it is a lot of fun and works

4 Kg Pork neck
500 G Onions
100 G Garlic
1 Kg Apples
500 G Bread
250 Ml Milk
30 G Honey
60 G Salt
10 G Pepper coarse

Sausage skins

Mince the pork neck in a medium to fine mincer, not too fine as otherwise there is not artisanal look

Chop onions and garlic finely
Cut apples in 5 mm cubes
Use Granny Smith or any other sour variety

Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil without color
Add the apple cubes when the onions are soft
Cook for another good 5 minutes till apples are cooked al dente

Cool down the apple mix

Add milk to dry bread and keep everything in the fridge overnight

Mix all ingredients well together, put in sausage machine
Make little breakfast sausages

The Chefs are trying out sausage making

Not as easy as it looks, but a job well done

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to make Sushi

We have started with our internal cooking classes, mainly for chefs but of course open to other interested Hosts here at Soneva Fushi. The first cooking course was Sushi, something we are very proud of as we have a Japanese Master Chef working for us in the Japanese Restaurant. Naoki has worked many years in Japan and worked as well for many Japanese Ambassadors, so he has an immense knowledge about Japanese Cuisine and of course Sushi
Today he shared his knowledge with us and I am more than happy to give it further to all of my avid readers. To explore new recipes, to chat to fellow chefs and cooks, that is what widens our horizons. Our main topic after the actual cooking was how different could we do Sushi, could we do sweet Sushi, Italian Sushi, Indian Sushi? Yes, we can do them and we all came up with some great ideas, especially for the Sweet Sushi.....but more about that later
When doing Sushi one has to follow some ground rules. The rice for example has to be a top quality rice. It has to be washed, a very important part of Sushi making.

First the rice should be rinsed twice very quickly, just to remove the dirt that sticks on the rice. Then the rice has to be washed up to 5 times, only a little water has to be in the rice. Not too much force has to be used as otherwise the rice kernels will break.
When the water is clear we go to the next step, the soaking. Sushi rice has to be soaked for about half an this time the rice will turn white which is a good sign. Then the water gets poured off again

To cook the rice one best takes a rice cooker. The same amount of water has to be used like the rice. No seasoning is required. It gets cooked till al dente, the rice needs to have a bit of a bite. The cooking takes about 38 minutes, after that leave the cooker closed for another 7 minutes before opening.

Then the rice gets mixed gently with the seasoning, everything needs to be done gently. The recipe for the seasoning is below.

Then when you make the Sushi, either Maki or Nigiri you have to be gentle again. If the rice is pressed too hard then the Sushi becomes a bit like a rubber, so it is really all about gentleness and love.....Sushi making is a great way to relax

230 g Sushi rice
150 ml Sushi flavoring

Cook the sushi rice till soft, but a little bite left

Add the sushi flavoring (vinegar sauce) to it

Sushi Flavoring
550 ml Sushi vinegar (Cider Vinegar)
250 g Sugar
25 g Salt
30 ml Hon Mirin
30ml Nisake

Heat everything up, but do not boil
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