A Malaysian Masterclass with Ping Coombes, Chi Kitchen
No secret I love South East Asian food, and no secret I am a fan of MasterChef. Thus a combination of these two makes up a perfect evening in my books. With my good friend Mondo Mulia I joined a Malaysian Master Class at Chi Kitchen with none other than Ping Coombes, the super friendly winner of Master Chef 2014.
Chi Kitchen is a recently opened Pan Asia restaurant within Debenhams premises in Oxford Street, owned by the same group as Mango Tree in Victoria.
The menu is created by Group Consultant Chef Ping Coombes. Since being crowned the winner of MasterChef in 2014, Ping has embraced the chance to spread her knowledge by promoting Asian food around the UK and abroad
Sipping a cocktail and sampling some canapes (including sushi, pop corn shrimp which I could not possibly try, here is why, and salted squid), we then watched Ping demoing two traditional Malaysian classics: Roti Canai and Kerabu Salad.
While I was familiar with the salad, a beautifully aromatic, fresh salad made with glass noodles, fresh leaves (curry, mint and chili and shrimp paste), I had never tried, made or seen a Roti Canai made. When Ping asked ‘who wants to have a go’, myself and Mulia jumped at the opportunity. Ping showed us how to make the dough, using regular flour, sugar and salt to create contrast, a bit of condensed milk and butter. It’s actually really easy, and once ready, the dough needs to rest for at least 6 hours.
We then watched in awe as chef Veera, using rested dough balls, made the actual roti, spinning the buttered balls into flat disks, swooshing them competently in the air, then flattening them and folding until finally cooking them in a dry pan… then, forcefully squashing them into their shape and serving them. Really fascinating, and very easy (so it seems), I can’t believe I have not had these before in Asia! I will sure attempt to make them, and as Ping suggested, they go really well with lathers of condensed milk and I presume, anything sweet for breakfast.
After the rest of the team made the salads tossing all the fresh ingredients and the noodles, we sat down to eat what we had prepared and also savour a selection of dishes from Chi Kitchen, most of them supervised by Ping. I loved the Marriage Laksa, so called by her as it’s mixing two traditional laksa, Assam and Nyonya. We also tried a couple of interesting desserts, both very light in flavour despite looking a little bright: Pandan and coconut pannacotta and Pandan jelly. I love pandan!
I had the great opportunity to pick Ping’s cheffy brain on some Malaysian cuisine tips, such as how to use condensed milk, squeezing pandan leaves and even a new way of eating my favourite strange fruit, salak.
Chi Kitchen menu is really good and, should I find myself in Oxford street again, I would definitely come back here for some good asian food; it is an halal restaurant which for me, for personal reasons, is not ideal. I guess I will need to steer away from meat!
I was a guest of Sauce Communications on this occasion; I was not asked to write this post, opinions are my own.