IF there’s a New Year’s resolution to stick to, may we suggest improving in the kitchen?
Filipino celebrity chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou’s latest offering, Simpol Kitchen Secrets, won at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in two categories: Celebrity Chef – World, and Easy Recipes at home. Surely, you’d be in good hands with those credentials.
Written in a conversational tone with no condescension, the recipes and tips sometimes sound as if instructions given from a parent to a child — sometimes, even better, considering that each tip is accompanied by scientific explanations. For example: “Dredging meat in flour before frying and searing is not a useless step,” Mr. Sarthou notes. “The flour coating absorbs the meat’s moisture when searing, so it does not stew before browning.”
The book is divided into methods, then tips and tricks for those methods, then recipes so that the cook can begin to test those recipes for themselves. “If you can boil water, you can definitely cook,” reads the introduction to the book’s first chapter, followed by basic recipes for soup, then something a bit more complicated (the boiled section ends with a collection of chunky soups). Furthermore, the book lends wisdom in the kitchen — more than the physical aspects of it, if one goes by the book, cooking can be a spiritual experience.
In his foreword, Mr. Sarthou writes, “You often hear the phrase ‘cooked with love,’ but what does it really mean? Love in cooking is manifested in the mindful act of cooking, where you immerse yourself in the process and aim for excellence. You express your love when you cook to nurture and to please the diner by serving nutritious, delicious, and beautiful food.”
The cookbook is available on Shopee and Lazada for P390. — JL Garcia
SIDEBAR: A simple cassoulet
HERE’S a sufficiently easy French stew from Mr. Sarthou: cassoulet. The French comfort food is given a dash of chic by its Francophile origins. Still, the dish will still stir some memories of family: “This savory pork recipe resembles the traditional Pinoy food, mechado,” writes the chef.
Set A (Boil)
1 cup white beans
4 cups water
Set B (Braising)
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 pc white onion, chopped
1 head garlic, crushed
1 kg pork belly, cut into large cubes
4 kg chicken leg quarter, cut into pieces
1/2 kg chicken sausage, chopped
2 pcs laurel leaves
2 pcs carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Set C (Garnish)
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 pcs. fresh thyme
In a medium sauce pot, boil the white beans in water for 15 minutes and drain.
In a casserole, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. Add pork and chicken then cook until it browns. Add all other Set B ingredients and the boiled beans. Cook for one hour and 30 minutes.
Serve with chopped fresh parsley and fresh thyme.
Tip: to achieve a rich broth even if you are not using collagen-rich ingredients, you can add a few tablespoons of unflavored gelatin powder to arrive at delicious results. You can use this secret for soups and stews.