Savour an epicurean journey to beautiful France through your tastebuds with these gourmet recipes. You’ll get to experience the land of exquisite, fine dining from the comfort of your own kitchen!
Hosting a fancy dinner or trying to impress a special someone? Turn your meal into a culinary journey!
Let's go to the motherland of fine cuisine - France. French cuisine is famed for its delicate sauces and intricate cooking techniques that may seem out of reach to home chefs, but with a little creativity, there are some quintessential French recipes that will let you see more through your taste buds while showcase your kitchen prowess.
Benjamin Tan, head chef of The Black Swan and The White Rabbit, offers three classic French recipes which will not only look splendid on the table but can be replicated in a home kitchen with standard equipment. Better yet, these recipes feature ingredients that are available at most supermarkets.
With these three dishes, you’ll get to visit the atmospheric bistros of Paris, where steak tartare and lobster thermidor are popular favourites at local bistros. Then, round off your trip to the south of France where fresh seafood abounds to create a mouthwatering and hearty seafood inspired dish - crab tagliatelle.
Now, put on your chef’s hat and take a trip to France through your tastebuds.
While the origins of this dish might be traced back to the Mongols of Central Asia, what is clear is that the version of steak tartare that we are all familiar with today can be credited to the French. Raw, chopped beefsteak was first served in grand French hotels at the beginning of the 20th century and was written into French cookbooks in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, this is considered a quintessentially French recipe, and most people eat it the way the French serve it - with tartar sauce and a raw egg yolk stirred into the freshly chopped beef.
Pro tip: When choosing meat for the steak tartare, chef Tan says beef tenderloin is an ideal cut as it is tender and has less connective tissue.
Beef tenderloin – 90g
Finely chopped shallots – 5g
Finely chopped gherkins – 3g
Finely chopped pearl onions – 3g
Finely chopped chives – 2g
Tartare dressing – 1 tbsp
Raw egg yolk – 1
Homemade sunchoke crisps (alternatively potato crisps or equivalent)
Tartare dressing (4 servings)
Ketchup – 40g
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce – 3g
Tabasco sauce – 3g
Dijon mustard – 10g
Japanese mayonnaise – 40g
Lemon juice – 10g
Chilli sauce – 3 tbsp
Preparing the tartare dressing:
Mix all the ingredients above and set aside.
Preparing the steak tartare:
- Be sure to keep the meat chilled.
- Hand-cut the tenderloin into ¼ slices before further cutting the beef into cubes.
- Mix the beef cubes with tartare dressing.
- Plate and top with raw egg yolk.
- Dress with homemade sunchoke chips or potato crisps for added texture.
It wouldn't be an understatement to say that it was a combination of savvy marketing and an inspired name that has given this evergreen seafood dish its longevity. The dish was invented at in 1894 at Chez Marie, a popular Parisian restaurant at that time. The smart chef decided to name it after a new French play called Thermidor, and launched it on opening night of this play. Thermidor the play only ran for three nights, but the Lobster Thermidor is still enduring in the canon of classic French cuisine.
Pro tip: For the lobster thermidor, chef Tan recommends using live lobster, which can be bought at the Grand Atlantic Fishery or other speciality fishmongers. Alternatively, crayfish is an affordable and easily available substitute.
Boston lobster – 1
Minced garlic – 3g
Cognac – 5ml
Mornay sauce – 2 tbsp
Shredded mozzarella – 5g
Shredded Gruyère – 3g
Shredded Parmesan – 3g
Mornay sauce (10 servings)
Whipping cream – 1L
Shredded Parmesan – 60g
Roux – 30g
Preparing the mornay sauce:
Heat cream in saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in shredded Parmesan and whisk until melted.
Thicken the sauce with roux.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, ensuring there is enough water to fully submerge the whole lobster.
- Add the lobster to boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes until red and firm.
- Transfer lobster to an ice bath to preserve the texture of the meat.
- De-shell the half-cooked lobster, taking care to cut the shells lengthwise. Save the shells for the final step.
- Cut lobster flesh into big chunks.
- Sauté lobster meat lightly with garlic and flambé with Cognac.
- Add the Mornay sauce to the pan and mix.
- Stuff the lobster mixture back into the empty shell and top with cheese.
- With the stuffed side facing up, lay lobster halves on a clean baking sheet and broil at 180ºC for 5 minutes until the top is golden brown.
In the south of France, which is blessed with a pleasant Mediterranean climate and miles of never ending beaches, seafood is the cuisine du jour there. A seafood-inspired dish like crab tagliatelle is a great way to evoke feelings of basking in the European sun while on vacation. At the same time, with plenty of live crabs available in Singapore, you’ll be able to get your hands on this ingredient with little hassle.
Pro tip: Live crabs can be found at supermarkets and wet markets. When cooking with fresh seafood, season your dishes with a light hand to allow the flavours of the ingredients to shine through.
Crab meat – 100g
Egg tagliatelle – 100g
Salted seaweed – 20g
Dried scallop – 50g
Chicken stock – 300ml
Chopped shallot – 20g
Chopped garlic – 20g
Chopped spring onion – 5g
Preparing the stock base:
- Rehydrate the dried scallop overnight.
- Combine the rehydrated scallop and chicken stock, bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Leave the scallops to infuse; strain only when you need to use the stock.
Preparing the pasta:
- Check the package instructions to cook the pasta. Only use half of the total cooking time stated. The pasta will continue to cook in the stock later for a richer, fuller flavour.
- Ensure that the crab meat has no bits of shell.
- Using a sauté pan, heat up some olive oil until warm.
- Once the olive oil is warm, add the garlic and shallots. Remove from heat once it turns golden brown.
- Add in the crabmeat and salted seaweed. Sautée over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Strain the stock directly into the pan, followed by the pasta. Bring everything to a boil and cover.
- Finish cooking the pasta until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Once the time has elapsed, season with salt and pepper
- Garnish with spring onion.
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