There is no doubt about this: Mum's cooking simply tastes better. To celebrate Mother's Day, these five chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants in Singapore spill the beans on their beloved dishes from their cooking inspiration - their mums.
Chef Julien Royer, Odette
Favourite Dish From Mum: Jardiniere de legumes (vegetable stew)
“Whenever I think about my mum, I think about springtime and the dish that she cooks during April or May. My family has a huge garden in our home in France with a lot of herbs and vegetables that are grown organically and the garden is blooming now. The stew has carrots, peas, broad beans, onions, garlic, shallots, lettuce, baby onions — all from our garden and cooked in a pot.
This dish is cooked with a cover, so the vegetables sweat gently with butter, olive oil and thyme added to the mixture. The dish is so special to me as my family is so lucky to be able to harvest our vegetables and enjoy this dish an hour later. You cannot beat the fresh and natural flavours of these vegetables. Eating this dish gives me pure happiness.”
Chef Sun Kim, Meta
Favourite Dish From Mum: Kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew)
“My mum cooks very good Korean dishes and makes 10 types of kimchi — cabbage, spring onions, radish and more. Whenever I go back to South Korea, I must have her kimchi stew with pork belly, spicy cabbage kimchi and a lot of garlic, and eat it with rice and banchan (small side dishes). Kimchi jjigae is such a simple dish, but it has the flavours that I grew up with. My mum’s kimchi is the best in the world.”
Favourite Dish From Mum: Kaima unde kari (minced mutton ball curry) and akki roti (rice flour flat bread)
“My mother used to make this dish at least once a year or during special occasions such as receiving guests from our village or me passing my examinations. My mother and grandmother ground the spices, such as asafoetida, javitri and cinnamon for the boneless mutton balls manually with a mortar and pestle as it brings out the flavours and aroma that you would not get from using an electric blender. This dish is very special to me as this dish received second prize in a cooking competition during my hotel management training days and I recently created a version of this dish - lamb and quail kofta in vindaloo sauce in the restaurant. ”
Chef Emmanuel Stroobant, Saint Pierre
Favourite Dish From Mum: Braised vegetable couscous
“My mum lives in the countryside in Ardennes, Belgium, and loves growing vegetables. Her couscous recipe is very simple but the produce makes a world of difference. The braised vegetable soup contains zucchini, leek, celery, carrot and interesting spices like ras el hanout (a spice mix from North Africa). She adds the vegetables in an order that is based on their textures. Hard ones such as carrot and celery are cooked first and soft french beans or zucchini are added last.
Since I have become a vegetarian, she makes a vegetable stock for the dish. She also adds a little touch of sweetness by adding marinated California raisins. It is a childhood dish that brings back a lot of memories. It is definitively a dish I always look forward to have every time we visit her.”
Chef Rishi Naleendra, Cheek By Jowl
Favourite Dish From Mum: Sri Lankan crab curry
“Growing up, this is one of my favourite dishes to eat as I ate more seafood than meat. The dish brings back good memories as my family and I will sit down and have a long meal together every Sunday. The Sri Lankan crab curry is a traditional dish with lots of aromatics like ginger, lemongrass, garlic, curry leaves, turmeric, roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, black pepper, moringa leaves and onions. The crab is tossed with the dry spices before being steamed and simmered, and then scented with a little coconut milk and lime juice.”