Valentine’s Day is approaching and there's a whiff romance in the air — or could it be the fragrance of chef Jeremy Gillon’s scent-inspired dishes at one-MICHELIN-starred JAG?
A cornerstone of JAG’s French cuisine is the myriad Alpine herbs which line the wall of Gillon's open kitchen. Over 40 types of indigenous herbs from the Savoie region in the French Alps, including apricot-scented coucou flower petals, grains of thym citron and savoury ortie leaves, are among the display. Each one is air-dried and then regularly sent over to the restaurant in Singapore by a friend of the chef.
The herbs are then infused in each of Gillon’s creations in a signature combination of a Savoie herb, a seasonal vegetable and fresh protein. For Valentine's Day, Gillon has chosen sweetly-scented sureau, more commonly known as elderflower in these parts of the world, to highlight a dish he specially created for the restaurant's celebratory menu, named Sureau, Scallops And Celeriac. Sureau lends a floral and herbaceous fragrance to the dish and is the perfect bridge between the savoury scallops and earthy celeriac and truffles, explains the chef.
For Gillon, the herb is a reminder of home: “My mum in France makes a sureau vinegar, which we use in this dish as well." While Mum’s recipe is a secret, Gillon says, home cooks can make vinegar by combining alcohol such as wine, white vinegar, salt, sugar and fresh herbs.
And the chef’s suggestion for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? “A romantic dinner and a unique perfume,” he says. “But to me the most important ingredient is to have a great time by creating a unique moment that holds significance for just the two of you.”
Sureau, Scallops And Celeriac
For the sureau vinegar:
Combine white wine vinegar with a pinch of salt and sugar and fresh or dried sureau; infuse for two weeks or more for full flavour.
For the scallops:
2-3 Hokkaido scallops
1 cup fresh celery juice
0.5g dried sureau
1. Combine the celery juice with the herbs to make a marinade.
2. Blanch the scallop for 10 seconds and remove from water.
3. Pour the marinade over the scallop and store in the chiller.
For the sureau syrup:
2.5g dried sureau
60g glucose or wheat syrup
20g sureau vinegar
1. Bring water to a boil, then add the sureau herbs and infuse for 15 minutes.
2. Strain the water into a bain marie and add the glucose and sureau vinegar.
3. Reduce to a syrupy consistency in the bain marie.
For the celeriac pickles:
20g soya sauce
30g sureau vinegar
15g olive oil
10g Japanese bonito vinegar (or 5g bonito flakes infused in 15g balsamic vinegar)
1. Slice celeriac into thin 4cm circles.
2. Blanch in salted water then press between sheets of kitchen paper to remove excess moisture.
3. Mix the soya sauce, olive oil and vinegars together then soak the celeriac slices in the pickling liquid.
For the sureau dressing:
50g sureau vinegar
40g grapeseed oil
60g olive oil
A pinch of salt
3g Muscovado sugar
1. Shake all the ingredients together well to make a dressing.
1. Slice the scallop thinly and start plating by layering the slices of marinated scallop and picked celeriac in a circle.
2. Repeat the layers with scallop, pickled celeriac and truffle slices. Drizzle dressing over.
3. To finish, dot the circumference of the plate with sureau syrup and top the dish with fresh sureau flowers and amaranth cress.