What does chef Justin Foo and Royal Salute, the Scotch whisky seemingly have in common? Firstly, it is a thirst for adventure. The former has seen himself cooking in kitchens all over the world (Singapore to Paris and around the world) and the latter, weaving tales of magic and mystique as one of the oldest working distilleries in the Highlands of Scotland. Secondly, it is a flair for flavour, matching even the most finickiest of taste buds. Foo’s culinary chops run the gamut from local flavours to pristinely plated European fare while Royal Salute comes in two expressions: a 21 Signature Blend and a 38, the two stalwart spirits (or the King of Whiskies as some put it) that fly the flag for Royal Salute as the classics of the brand.
While the Royal Salute expressions have graced many a monarchy event (the first expression was created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 while a special edition was created for the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), the beauty of its amber liquid however, is in the number of years it has been matured. A specific 21 years that makes other whiskies pale in comparison at the first drop as they tend to range from three to sixteen.
This knack for ageing some of the finest malts — or in the words of Royal Salute “We Begin Where Others End” — is something that Foo can resonate with. Here, he puts his own spin on two dishes with a local twist just in time for the National Day festivities — wagyu beef with a black bean sauce and tang yuan with a chocolate ganache — and pairs it perfectly with the Royal Salute 21 and 38.
Or as he puts it, “What Royal Salute does is to start where others end and I think it’s interesting because for me, I resonate it with because I’m doing something similar. If you look at the dish menu, you’d expect something local. Where others end, I take it one step further to elevate it. But both of us start from heritage and transform it into a different experience.”
A tribute to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Royal Salute 21 has been aged for a minimum of 21 years with the finest scotch whiskies. A feat that Master Blend Sandy Hyslop says will “regale the senses with this rich, round and velvet smooth blend”. In our terms, it makes for easy drinking — subtle notes of sherry, deep fruity flavours and a sweet orange marmalade finish.
Recipe 1: Wagyu Beef with a Black Bean Sauce and Charred Vegetables.
Ingredients: One piece A3 Wagyu Angus Striploin cut five centimetres thick, sea salt & black pepper, one tablespoon of rinsed salted black beans, half a tablespoon of butter, two teaspoons of cornstarch, one and a half cups of water.
1. Pat the beef dry and season with sea salt and black pepper.
2. In a hot skillet, sear the beef with two tablespoons of vegetable oil on both sides.
3. If you have an oven, put it in an 180°C oven for six minutes after searing. Remove from oven and rest the beef before slicing.
4. If you are cooking the beef only with a pan, ensure your beef is at room temperature before seasoning and searing. It should take four to five minutes on both sides to achieve medium-rare doneness. Rest the beef before slicing.
5. Using the same pan, remove access grease. Add butter and salted black beans.
6. Fry the beans until the foam from the butter subsides. Press the beans with a spoon to smash them.
7. Add water and simmer for 10 minutes and thicken with diluted cornstarch until desired thickness.
8. Plate to serve.
Garnish: One bundle of kailan flower or broccolini and one tablespoon of olive oil.
1. Trim only the tips off the florets taking the most tender shoots.
2. In a hot pan, heat olive oil and sear the vegetables until they have a slight char.
3. Season with salt & pepper and add three tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan.
4. Cook off the water and serve the vegetables.
Garnish 2: 15 pieces of peeled Thai shallots, half a tablespoon of butter, half a teaspoon of sugar, salt & pepper, toasted macadamia nuts.
1. In a small pot, put peeled shallots and add water to half the height of the shallots.
2. Add butter, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
3. Cover to simmer on medium low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Uncover, increase the heat to medium high until the water is cooked off.
5. Stir vigorously till the onions are charred on all sides.
Garnish 3: One piece of washed burdock root, vegetable oil for frying and salt.
1. Heat deep frying oil to 180C
2. Cut burdock into 20cm lengths.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the burdock and deep fry immediately before they oxidise.
4. Once the fried burdock turn light golden, remove from heat and drain on paper towel.
5. Season with salt.
Named after the ancient stone used for British Royal coronation ceremonies, the Royal Salute 38 is regal in its right — dark and sweet notes of fig, candied plums and a wonderful umami. Nutmeg and baker’s spices gives it a punch too, perfect as a nightcap or special occasions.
Recipe 2: Tang Yuan With a Chocolate Ganache
Ganache: 200 millilitres of cream and 250 grams of 54%-67% chocolate.
1. Make ganache by boiling cream and pouring it over the chocolate in a mixing bowl.
2. Stir and mix well the ganache.
3. Pipe them into silicone moulds to make spheres.
4. If you do not have silicone moulds, you can chill the ganache and scoop them out with a melon baller dipped in hot water.
5. Freeze the ganache until ready to use.
Tangyuan: Dough, 160 grams of glutinous rice flour, five tablespoons of boiling water, four tablespoons of cold water.
1. For the dough, mix hot water into the flour with chopsticks.
2. Switch to a spatula and gradually add cold water.
3. You may need to add more water, but add 0.5 tablespoons at a time.
4. The dough should not stick to the bowl or your hands and should be a play-dough like consistency. Divide into 20-gram portions.
5. Roll out the dough into six centimetres diameter discs.
6. Wrap frozen ganache balls and seal tightly by pinching off excess dough.
7. Freeze to keep or simmer in water for eight minutes before serving.
8. Serve with garnish and red coral tuile.
Garnish: Two tablespoons of finely chopped candied ginger, two tablespoons of grounded toasted sesame, ice cream of choice.
Red Coral Tuile: 90 millilitres of water, 10 grams of plain flour, three drops of red food colouring
1. Combine ingredients together and mix well.
2. In a non-stick pan, add four tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat up on medium high heat.
3. Pour half the mixture and cook on medium heat until the mixture is completely dry.
4. Remove and drain excess oil on paper towels.
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