A fixation with raw proteins

The more I cook, the more I want to do it without cooking. My fixation for uncooked meat and seafood is growing!

Again, a love affair with steak tartare.

Short rib, seasoned with neutralized vinegar, soy sauce and salt. Crisped shitake, pickled shallots.


Raw salmon and sake marinated scallops, fermented rice puree, seaweed infused soy tainted with squid ink, fennel, toasted sesame, panko.


Cultured cream using charcuterie starter cultures

So a while back I got myself some starter cultures from our partners in Spain. They specialize in bacteria cultures for charcuterie and started to get into the nuances of beer production as well. They’ve even isolated some of the cultures used in producing Jamon Iberico. I got a hold of that culture too and went to making different sausages. Man, they make such a huge difference.

But after the novelty of curing sausages wore of, my scatter brain thought, what else can I do with this stuff?! I’ve seen cultured butter before, maybe that’s something I can dabble in, but with cream.

Let me tell you right now that man, the differences were astounding for some of them, as well as the textures. Keep in mind this was a spur of the moment trial. I’m also not sure if the stainless steel containers react with the cream.

Day 2 of the fermentation. Differences are starting to appear.



  1. Heat the heavy cream (35% fat) to 40 degrees Celsius and separate them into 5 containers
  2. Add 1% sugar, by total weight.
  3. Add the different strains of starter cultures to each container
  4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 3 days. My kitchen lab hovers between 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.
  5. TASTE!!!



Here are the notes.

Control – no culture added

This one was slightly unappetizing, and had some bitter notes. It was just reminiscent of spoiled cream, the kind that’s been left at the back of the fridge for 2 months. It was also a bit sour but it was not very pronounced. No trace of sweetness

Cultures 1 and 2 on the center. Control is the one on the very left.


Culture 1

This tasted like that honey yogurt you get off grocery stores, but with a milder yogurt flavour. In fact, I would say the flavour was quite mild overall, but delicious. The texture was also like smooth and soft store bought yogurt.


Culture 2

This one had a very interesting flavour – sweet and strong hints of lemon. It definitely surprised me! It also didn’t loosen up when I stirred it around, so the viscosity is consistent. The texture was like double cream.


Cultures 4 and 5


Culture 4

This was by far my favourite due to the overall balance of flavour and texture. It tasted of mild yogurt with a hint of acidity. The texture was rich and velvety like a 10% fat Greek yogurt. It would also hold its shape.


Culture 5

Last but not the least, is the Iberico cultures. Texture was not that great – in fact it was quite runny and a bit stringy, as if Xanthan gum was added to it. But the flavour…wow! Very strong nutty note, and reminiscent of hazelnuts.

All of them side by side


So the next step is to perhaps combine the cultures to try and get the best qualities. I would mix Cultures 4 and 5. But who knows, the cultures might compete with each other and I would get something completely different!



Pan seared sweetbreads, Shiitake and Kombu consomme, Shiitake and Miso puree, chives

A very simple dish with very few components. The broth was thickened slightly with GPI Kokumi just to give a richer texture. The sweetbreads were first poached with star anise, salt and pepper, then chilled overnight.


DSCF0679 (1)

Beef short rib tartare, sea urchin, black tobiko, mushroom

I wanted to use short rib because of just how “beefy” the flavour is. I didn’t want this to be a subtle tartare. Eating the minced meat without seasoning was already delicious, but I wanted to season it just to further enhance the flavour. No eggs, capers or shallots in this one, but seasoned with salt, mirin, a bit of soy, and some mulled vinegar.

The sea urchin is left untouched. It’s amazing as it is.

The enoki mushrooms are pickled with similar flavours used in seasoning the beef – soy sauce, mirin, salt,sugar. They were vacuumed to further draw the liquid into the mushrooms. The disks of king oyster mushrooms were also pickled then dehydrated to concentrate flavour and alter the texture. Lastly, toasted shitake powder.

Garnished with scallions for colour.


The difficulty of simplicity – Octopus, guanciale, roasted garlic, sage

When composing a dish, there’s a ton of questions I always ask myself – What’s the intention, what’s the main focus, how many components, how do I want those components to contribute to the entirety of the dish. In a way, dishes are really like essays – what is the main thesis, what are the arguments, are they good arguments, how do they prove the thesis?

When I was in university doing my psychology undergrad, I tried to use few, but strong arguments in the papers I had to submit. It’s only recently that I have realized that I am trying to do the same thing with the dishes I create. And the dishes I have enjoyed the most are simple but potent. Simple compositions with each component able to stand on its own.

Keeping a dish simple can be difficult. Instead of bombarding the palate with different flavours, you focus on a few flavours but make sure that each is potent and elegant enough to make an impact without overpowering the main act.

This dish was another attempt at simplicity. I just need to keep improving.


Squash Dessert

Squash panna cotta, pumpkin seed butter, squash and smoked maple puree, brown butter and pecan crumble, maple poached squash, sour cream.


Smoked duck breast, parsnip puree, macerated blackberries, graham cracker crust

Title says all. Had some time to use up leftovers, so made this dish.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 986 other followers