My roles in life as a Chef, Food writer and cooking ambassador allows me occassional “back stage” access to some of the rock stars of the culinary world.
I was fortunate enough to have recently been invited to Tetsuyas restaurant in the heart of the Sydney CBD to indulge in a steam oven masterclass and sit down lunch which had me salivating since receiving the invitation.
Dear Internet Chef, We would love to have you as our guest as Tetsuya demonstrates the art of cooking with steam…
OK, you twisted my arm.
Inside Tetsuya’s private kitchen
The upstairs dining room at Tetsuyas world class establishment had been transformed into a masterclass kitchen with the help of some exquisitely beautiful Electrolux appliances. Two stainless steel cooking stations had been set up with induction cooktops and behind them some seriously sexy looking ovens were housed in impressive portable metal plinths.
Vapours were already steaming up the insides of one of the compact ovens as we were ushered into the room to be seated at white linen covered tables. This was unlike any masterclass I had attended previously, so I was feeling confident that we weren’t just there to look!
Champagne Bollinger was on offer, and despite it only being 12:10pm, I was slipping into my second glass of French indulgence. I find it difficult at the best times to say no to a glass of chilled champagne and by the array of wine glasses that were set in front of me, I decided I had better start sipping!
Tetsuya and Electrolux MD John Brown
When Tetsuya entered the room, a hush descended the crowd. Much like a reverse rock concert reaction. No screaming and throwing of underwear from the 30+ people that were assembled in the room, but more a hush of respect for the man who has been at the forefront of world food trends for over 20 years.
This is not the first masterclass I have attended of Tetsuyas, nor is it the first time I’ve been fortunate enough to dine at his restaurant, but despite these rights of passage as a culinary professional ~ I was still awe struck by the humble and even temperament that makes up the nature of this man.
Note to self: Must behave more Tetsuya like when on stage…
With Camera and iphone at the ready, I began my happy snapping as Tetsuya delivers his sermon to a faithful congregation. Displayed to the front and back of him are the appliances that he has mastered over the last 15 years. His affection for the brand and the technology evident as he is introduced by Electrolux [Australia/New Zealand] MD John Brown.
Tetsuya discusses the benefits of cooking with steam
Tetsuya begins the class by talking about what he believes technology can do for the home cook. ” Technology allows you to achieve restaurant-like consistency in your home”, he states, pointing to the steam oven for emphasis. “This style of cooking is measured and exact. Push a button and the oven does it for you. Nothing wrong with that”
There is nothing wrong with that AT ALL if the food responds as well as what Tetsuya presented to us!
Steamed Baby Barramundi
The first course consisted of steamed fillet of baby barramundi with roasted fennel and an interesting chinese olive that Tetsuya handed around the crowd for sampling. The chinese olive could only be described as a cross between a date and an olive, without the salty smack of a traditionally brined olive, but more dry fruit in consistency and flavor.
He chopped this up into brunoise and used it as an addition to the sauce he used to pour over the fish once it was plated. The cooking of the fish was done by dousing it in a fruity extra virgin olive oil, placing into a metal tray and covering with cling film before steaming gently in the oven for about 8 minutes.
Cling film in the oven? With wet steaming, you have the added bonus of being able to seal your food in a moist environment which helps retain flavor and juices while keeping the food succulent and tender.
Steamed Chicken breast on polenta
The second course was a steamed breast of chicken, which was wrapped in cling film before its ceremonious steam bath. With a huge box of cling film permantly anchored to the bench top, Tetsuya states its vital for every kitchen ~ with his favorite brand “castaway” being good and stretchy ~ all 600 meters of it!
He steams the chicken for 20mins at 70C and serves it on polenta with a tomato, bacon and basil salad. “Basil”, Tetsuya adds, “should be torn and bruised, not cut. Bruising helps the flavors to come out in the dish”
Once we are served our version of the dish, a push to the side of the incredibly succulent chicken reveals a little surprise. A just-cooked yolk sits coyly amongst my porridge of polenta. Perfectly prepared, steamed in fact Tetsuya tells us, by cutting the tops off the eggs, separating the yolk from the white and then placing the yolk back into the shell. Cover with cling film and steam in the oven on 50C for 20 minutes.
Steamed Egg Yolk Food Porn
The yolk was glorious and I was able to move it around my plate a couple of times before it burst and exploded into my polenta making it a slurry of corn goodness.
Food porn moment off the day now over, a light dessert of balsamic strawberries on a cloud of mascarpone mousse had Tetsuya finishing up his demonstartion by moving over to what looked like a lovely bit of kitchen jewlery.
E:Motion Trivet and Wok Sitting on an Induction Cooktop
What he was in fact using was the state-of-the-art about to be released induction wok ring or E:motion trivet, that allows the user to cook with a round bottom wok on an induction cooktop.
Tetsuya demonstrates how well this trivet works on induction
The ring sits on the induction cooking zone, and the wok sits on top of it. The wok itself does not come into contact with the cooktop. It is, in fact, the trivet that connects with both the induction cooktop and the wok, transferring electromagnet pulses into the wok, heating up the metal. At no time does the cooking surface or the trivet get hot ~ only the wok!
And Hot it does! Within seconds of Tetsuya turning on the appliance the wok sored to a high enough temperature for him to fill it up with scampi tails for a quick stir fry. A normal inconvenience when attempting to put that much product into a wok at the same time is its tendency to start stewing rather than frying, with the E:motion trivet displaying its abitlity to hold and maintain a stir frying temperature despite what some woks would deem over crowding.
Wok Fried Scampi Tails
A generous splash of scampi oil later and the room was filled with the sweet smell of frying crustcea. I managed to fight my way to the front of the class to sample the offerings and gawk at this designer piece of kitchen furniture. Not normally one to get caught up in aesthetics, I couldn’t help but desire one for my own kitchen. Once you combine the sleek and stylish design with undeniable fucntionality and its E:motion trivet for the win!
Despite my Twitter account not behaving itself properly during my Tetsuya experience, I managed to get a few tweets out and post a few photos although somewhat blurry, and now am happily reliving the experience through post.
The Internet Chef and Chef Tetsuya
I have also started composing my wish list of kitchen requirements.
Dear Santa, as I’ve been a really good Internet Chef this year I think I deserve the following…
Speaking with the Electrolux team who were on-site to make our day even more enjoyable ~ the steam oven is now available in Australia and the E:motion Trivet is being released in October 2010. Oh the suspense is killing me already!
An exceptional way to spend the afternoon AND pick up a few cooking hints and tips along with it.