One chef, one ingredient: Singapore's André Chiang on salt
This week, chef André Chiang of Restaurant André in Singapore chose to talk about salt as his favourite ingredient to cook with
With accolades such as "One of the World's Best Young Chefs" from Wallpaper magazine, inclusion in the list of "10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride" by The New York Times, and awarded Best New Restaurant 2011 Singapore by Singapore Tatler, chef André Chiang of Restaurant André in Singapore has quickly cemented his reputation as a culinary force to watch.
Relaxnews: Why did you choose this ingredient? What’s your favourite memory/anecdote associated with the product?
André Chiang: Salt is my favorite ingredient. Not just the salty flavor itself or its different varieties, but the depth of salt which really amazes me in different ways. At Restaurant André, we use sea water from the Mediterranean (South of France) and Atlantic (Brittany) to cook, cure, marinate, clarify or make jelly out of!
When is the ingredient in season?
Basically we use more during the winter-spring period when seafood and shellfish are at a peak.
What’s the best way to cook with it?
I think the best way to appreciate salt is by using real sea water from Mediterranean or Atlantic. Curing vegetables or seafood like ceviche brings out the natural saltiness, iodic and "sea" flavor.
What other foods does it pair best with?
The best ingredients to pair it with are obviously oysters, Bouchot mussels, and sea-escargots.
What are the most common mistakes people make when using this ingredient?
The most common mistake is to treat all salt in the same way, or to only use salt as a seasoning. In fact, choosing the right salt can be the most important component of a dish as the "invisible detail."
Do you serve it in your restaurant and in what dish?
Our restaurant philosophy is based on an "Octaphilosophy" -- eight different elements represented in eight different dishes. One of the elements is salt. Currently, we serve a light charcoal grilled Gillardeau oyster with Beluga lentils cooked in seawater, with fresh thyme flowers.