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Features 1 minute 02 December 2017

On The Menu: How A Family Memory Inspired Tam Kwok Fung's Creation At The 2018 MICHELIN guide Hong Kong Macau Gala Dinner

The chef of two-Michelin starred Jade Dragon refined a treasured family recipe to create the second course of the gala dinner.

Hong Kong Michelin star

As a child, Chef Tam Kwok Fung often visited his family in China during New Year festivities for a celebration together around a table full of traditional foods, including his family’s favorite chicken dish. Now the chef of two-Michelin-starred Jade Dragon in the City of Dreams Macau, he has mastered his mother's treasured recipe and refined it to create a dish of Poached Free Range Chicken In Ginseng Broth which was presented as the second course of the 2018 MICHELIN guide Hong Kong Macau 10th year anniversary gala dinner.
Does your dish hold any personal memories?
When I was a boy, I’d often travel with my mother back to her hometown of Shunde, Guangdong, and my grandparents and uncles would always greet us warmly. Cantonese cooking originated in Guangdong, and there’s an old saying that without chicken, there is no feast. It was a farming village, and they raised their own chickens and had their own mulberry fishponds – something quite common at the time.

So, you’d all gather for a chicken feast?

Yes, chicken was plentiful and convenient, and whenever relatives and friends would come for a visit, the celebration always included chicken-based dishes. All the chickens were free range and their feed was natural, so of course they tasted divine, even when the preparation was very simple – just adding ginger, scallions, salt, and rice wine before steaming in a big wok for fifteen or twenty minutes. It became my family’s signature dish.

Did they ever include ginseng?
Back in old times, ginseng was one of the most expensive ingredients in China, just like abalone, bird’s nest, and shark fin. We didn’t use the expensive ginseng but rather the ginseng tail.

Where does your family hold their feasts?

At my grand-aunt’s house, but we’d also dine in our favorite restaurants two or three times a year.

And of course you’d come together at holidays?

I still remember the joyful atmosphere we had at Chinese New Year. My grandmother would deep-fry mushrooms and taro with salt and then seal them in a jar for a snack we’d have with tea.

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