Seated above the city on the 43rd floor rooftop overlooking the Marina Bay waterfront, diners at Zafferano Italian Restaurant & Lounge
in Ocean Financial Centre are served beautiful plates from its new menu. The antipasti of raw Hokkaido scallop is topped with Avruga caviar and a sauce of saffron and sautéed monk capers, the rim of the plate dusted with a burnt orange powder redolent with the piquant taste of capers. Cuts of Black Angus beef tenderloin are served with a side of celeriac puree and leeks, punctuated with a deeply savoury onion powder.
Black Angus beef tenderloin gratinated with liquorice and capers with a dusting of onion skin powder (Pic: SoloStep Studio)
Rescuing kitchen scraps that would have otherwise gone to waste, Zafferano’s new head chef Emanuele Faggi has conjured up powders that magically add flavours and colours to his dishes.
Faggi tells of his tenure at Michelin-starred Cracco Ristorante
in Milan and how working under the inimitable chef Carlo Cracco for five years influenced and shaped his culinary values.
“Chef Carlo would check the bin every night to ensure no useful parts of an ingredient was discarded,” he says. “It has become a habit for me to work conscientiously with every ingredient.”
Parmesan cheese rinds are saved, dried and topped with uni cream and nori flakes for a crunchy, savoury pre-starter snack. Even the rice used for storing the restaurant’s prized truffles are used in staff meals and transformed into the colourful rice crackers served at every table. In his kitchen, the likes of coffee beans and the skin of onions, tomatoes and carrots are dehydrated and blended into powders used for everything from marinating to plating.
The flavoured rice chips are made from the rice used to store the restaurant's prized truffles (Pic: SoloStep Studio)
You could do the same at home by saving and freezing food scraps till you’ve collected a sufficient amount. Here, the chef gives some ideas of the types of scraps you can use:
· Tomato skins: Microwave for three minutes on low heat to dry before blending into a fine powder.
· Onion skins: Bake the onion skins at 250°C for five to six minutes till they turn completely black. Set aside to cool, then blend into a fine powder.
· Potato skins and capers: Blanch them and spread them out overnight to dry in a warm place. Blend into powder.
· Prawn eggs: Remove the roe from the prawn heads and microwave for a minute on low heat to dry, then chop.
· Squid ink: Remove the ink from the squid and leave overnight in a warm oven to dry. When it is completely dry, it will stick to the tray. Scrape it off and blend into a powder.
· Coffee powder: Blend the beans into a fine powder.
Antipasti of Hokkaido scallops rimmed with piquant capers powder (Pic: SoloStep Studio)
Once these food scraps are dehydrated and blended into powders, their flavours and aromas are concentrated and can be used in a variety of ways. “You can use it for plating or as flavouring for sauces and marinades,” shares Faggi.
“In fact, I have made a dish fully using some of these powders.” Cooking a risotto with oyster water and essence of tomato, he stirred through a combination of squid ink, tomato skin and prawn head powders at the end to pump up the flavour. He exclaims: “It tasted exactly like a risotto marinara.”