Receiving the highly coveted three Michelin stars over the past decade has been a culinary highlight for Chan Yan Tak, executive Chinese chef of Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hong Kong
. The Hong Kong-born chef says: “This achievement has put Cantonese cuisine in the spotlight, attracting people around the world to learn more about the finesse in Chinese food.”
With Lung King Heen being the first Chinese restaurant to receive three Michelin stars in 2008, Chan is widely seen as an authority in Cantonese cuisine. Naturally, he has chosen to showcase his culinary prowess in a classic Cantonese dish — steamed fish. He says: “Steamed fish is often served in family meals and I always cook this dish when my children come home for dinner.” He has elevated this dish by adding premium ingredients such as 30-year aged mandarin peel and cordyceps.
On the most challenging part of executing this dish, he says: “Managing the time needed to steam the dish is always an art. Half a minute more or less can make a big difference. We want the fish to be silky, tender and delicate, while the sauce is a classic combination of black bean and mandarin peel. The magic lies in getting the proportions of soya sauce and ingredients right.”
What was the inspiration behind the dish?
Steamed fish is the most emblematic dish of Cantonese cuisine. It is a popular communal dish and makes frequent appearances on dining tables at home.
What goes into this dish?
The sea bass, which is from France, is steamed on a piece of lotus leaf in a bamboo steamer before it is placed on a bed of vermicelli. The fish is drizzled with a sauce, which is a combination of chopped fermented black bean, minced garlic and ginger, shallots, dried Mandarin peel that has been aged for 30 years, soya sauce, oyster sauce, salt and sugar. The deboned fish is served with cordyceps and enoki mushrooms, and sprinkled with spring onions and red chilli slices.
The theme of this year’s MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau Gala Dinner is Metamorphosis. What does it mean to you?
In life, change is the only constant. Every time you adapt, you find a breakthrough and become a new you. In the similar vein, I have elevated this family-style dish into an individually portioned dish that is perfect for a gala dinner. Instead of attacking the whole fish with chopsticks, diners can enjoy this dish in a
more elegant way. A family-style dish can also be adapted to find its way to the fine-dining table.