People 3 minutes 16 April 2024

Labyrinth's LG Han Makes "Foie Gras" from Tofu and Talks About Sustainability

MICHELIN-Starred Labyrinth's chef, LG Han, champions sustainability in Singapore and shares his recipe for ethically sourced Foie Gras.

One of Singapore's most passionate advocates for sustainable sourcing and cooking, Li Guang "LG" Han of MICHELIN-Starred Labyrinth always has much to say about how the Garden City's dining landscape is evolving and adapting at a rapid pace.

When it comes to his choice of ingredients used in Labyrinth, Han prioritises their sources, ensuring that, as much as possible, most of them are either harvested or acquired within Singapore soil, or that each part of a certain ingredient is used to the fullest. He tells us of instances when certain recipes had to be foregone because a whole bird could not be utilised ("I can't just get whole chickens for their oysters or necks"); or situations where innovation was exercised, yet not well-received by diners who found it difficult to grasp the concept behind a dish ("they didn't like that I was serving a vegetarian version of something that was typically meat-based").

Sustainability in Singapore does indeed come with its set of challenges. For example, the Lion City is devoid of the same amount of fertile land that's easily available in its neighbouring countries, giving chefs not much of a choice but to ship in ingredients and produce. With that said, import costs are also on the rise, and the use of single-use plastic is still quite prevalent.

"A lot of the local Singaporean farms I've worked with closed down," shares Han. "I used to source from a local frog farm and a local quail farm, but their owners seem to have gone quiet. The last I heard was that the government started reclaiming a lot of land in the north." However, Han says that not all is lost, especially since that there are new local and budding entrepreneurs cultivating ingredients such as vanilla, and new vertical farms are on the rise. Some of the local producers that I currently work with include Edible Garden CityNosh Produce, Singapore Fish Farm Ah Hua KelongNutrinest HoneyToh Thye San ChickenHay Dairies, and Kühlbarra."

MICHELIN-Starred Labyrinth's LG Han champions and advocates sustainability in Singapore by using local produce and supporting local farmers.
MICHELIN-Starred Labyrinth's LG Han champions and advocates sustainability in Singapore by using local produce and supporting local farmers.

"Sustainability is such a very big word to use," Han expresses. "It's hard to have a singular definition for it. For me, it's about stability for what I represent in my food. And, as a person, it comes from two prongs as well. One thing that I have always been championing is the local community — supporting local farmers and local produce as much as we can. The second is about community — people sustainability, as I'd like to call it. Sustaining the heritage of the country, its past, its history, is also so very important. We believe in producing as less waste as we can and utilise every part of a vegetable, fish, or meat, so that we get to reduce our carbon footprint as well," he says.

For Han, creativity also plays a huge role in his cuisine, especially thinking out of the box when it comes to preparing dishes that can feed the entire restaurant without anything going to waste. "It definitely requires more work, and it involves making conscious decisions. Sometimes, it feels like working with one arm tied behind my back, but if we don't put in that effort, then our stance means nothing."

Han believes that taking bigger steps towards a more sustainable future for Singapore requires constant shifts in culture and mindset. "Despite the movements by groceries and stores to bring reusable bags, there is still a lot of plastic being used. Why is that? I personally feel it's because the cost to get a plastic bag is only S$0.10. Ironically, cost is also what hinders many people from getting more locally grown and raised produce. Why pay more for a Singaporean egg, for example, when can get a Japanese egg for almost less or the same price? I hope the government shows more support for our local farmers and producers. Recycling is another issue that I feel should be discussed, but that's for another day."

Faux Foie Gras Waffles Labyrinth MICHELIN Guide.jpg

Han shares that in one of Labyrinth's menus, he recreated the foie gras experience using tofu in a dish he playfully called "Faux Foie Gras", which he explains as an ethically crafted rendition of the French delicacy. As many know, foie gras involves a controversial sourcing method, and Han aimed to turn that around by using ingredients such as tofu, nutritional yeast, miso, and tahini to recreate the indulgent experience of biting into the umami-packed duck liver.

To serve, the Faux Foie Gras was set between pandan leaf-infused and coconut milk waffles with strawberry compote and tomato marmalade. Han admits that he received an interesting amount of feedback from guests, with many appreciating the experience, while others complaining that they paid so much for "just a block of tofu". Han brushes this off with a laugh, saying that this was both an interesting experience and a fun experiment for him and his team. With Han's experience and impact on the local dining scene, he says with pride that he has no where else to go but forward. Below is his recipe for Faux Foie Gras, for the curious...and experimental.

LG Han's Faux Foie Gras

Makes 6 portions

Ingredients for the Faux Foie

210g Pressed Tofu
150g Duck Fat
50g Miso Marinade
60g Tahini
100g White Chocolate
60g Cocoa Butter
30g Cognac
6g Sea Salt
3g Black pepper
30g Nutritional Yeast

Ingredients for the Miso Marinade

2kg Shiro (white) miso
1kg sugar
666g sake
666g mirin
333g red rice vinegar


Procedure for the Miso Marinade

1.⁠ ⁠Combine sugar and 250g of water in a pot and bring to boil.
2. Boil till sugar reaches dark caramel stage. Turn off the heat and add in sake, mirin, and red rice vinegar.
3.⁠ ⁠Bring to a boil to allow the alcohol to evaporate and reduce the mixture by ⅓.
4.⁠ ⁠Add miso to the mixture and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 mins.
5.⁠ ⁠Place in an ice bath to cool, and then set aside for future use. Remember you only need 50g of the mix for the Faux Foie.

Procedure for the Faux Foie

1.⁠ ⁠Combine tofu, miso, tahini, sea salt, black pepper, and nutritional yeast. Blend till smooth. Set tofu mixture aside.
2.⁠ ⁠Combine white chocolate and cocoa butter and melt over a bain marie.
3.⁠ ⁠Slowly shear the melted chocolate into the tofu mixture till well emulsified.
4.⁠ ⁠Finally, blend in cognac and set in desired mould.

Labyrinth is located at Esplanade Mall, #02-23, Marina Bay Promenade, 8 Raffles Avenue, 039802, Singapore. Book your table here.


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