Taking time off from his busy food promotion travel to respond to few questions that I had for him on his journey with food was a conversation to be savored of. In a very humble tone he vividly puts in, cooking as an ART! With Chef Yu Hing Tham, the Regional Executive Chef of Republic of Noodles, The Lemon Tree Hotel Company, cooking seems to be elegantly easy but speak on an ingredient; it seems all types of possible forms of recipes ran at the back of his mind with strings of details. His innovative cuisines have blends of traditional Assamese ingredients into Asian style and carry the reminiscence of techniques learnt at home since childhood.
Born and brought up in the wilderness of Tezpur, a town with bountiful rich history and tradition, his food disclosure had the native flavor twisted in Asian cooking. ‘Food satiates’ he says. To Yu, cooking has been hereditary. He inherited the skills from his grandmother, his parents and even his brother who used to prepare recipes from Femina magazine. His father has been the source of inspiration always. As a child he never missed the graffiti on The Telegraph and his childhood memories were engulfed by Sundays relishing the dish of pork-bitter gourd curry which his mother used to make lovingly for the whole family. It is his favourite dish ever and has introduced the recipe in the Republicof Noodlestoo. The cuisine is prepared with black bean sauce, mustard, finely chopped bitter gourds and pork meat shreds. ‘Rub salt to take away the bitterness of bitter gourd’ he said with fond suggestion.
Yu loves Asian cooking and experiment with food to create his own style of cooking. He blends the bold and intense flavor with fresh ingredients fusing the two cultures ofAssamand South- East Asian countries. On tenga (a sour food item in an Assamese household), he says inquisitively ‘there is no recipe for Rabab tenga?’(a popular citrous fruit that is sweet and sour) chili and the salt. Although he confides that the same fruit is used inThailandfor varieties of salad recipes. He opines that even the ‘tog’ (a mixture of sweet and sour type of chutney inAssam), recipes based on ‘ou tenga daali’ (elephant apply pulse) could be excellent cuisines.
Bamboo shoots are his favourite ingredients. On his experience with them he says, bamboo shoots come in varied texture, and give different feeling when eaten. Although used in many different types pickled way, fried way or even straight into pan, ‘meat and bamboo shoot mix well or simply stir fry it. Its texture gives crunchiness. Bamboo shoot is one kind of ingredients which cannot be over powered’ he states. His profound fondness for the fiery ‘bhoot jolokia’ ( King chili) found way to the menu. He takes up with pride the introduction of bhoot jolokia in sauce to blend with Asian cuisines and is on way to introduce other aromatic chilies fromAssam especially the tiny ( kon koni jolokia) chilies and the ‘dhan jolokia’ in Asian cuisines. With training from National Council of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Pusa and with his experiences in International The Grand and Marriot Resort, he continues to learn and fuse his cooking with love and respect. He dreams of opening his own chain of restaurant. Fried Eye team wishes him success in his endeavor.
Recipes by Chef Yu Hing Tham
Popiah je – Spring Rolls with Orange Chilli Dip
Garlic, finely chopped
Coriander root paste
Sugar, a pinch
Black pepper, crushed
Spring Onion, shredded
TYJ spring roll sheets (215 mm x 215 mm)
Light corn flour and refined flour batter for sealing
Oil for frying
Heat oil in a wok. Sauté garlic and coriander root paste. Add carrot, cabbage and shitake and toss well. Season with oyster sauce, light soya sauce, sugar and black pepper. Finally add the glass noodles and spring onion. Remove from fire and allow cooling.
Take spoonful of the filling and stuff in spring roll sheets. Roll to make spring rolls of size 3 inches. Seal with the batter mixture.
Deep fry till golden brown. Serve with orange chilli dip.
Stewed Peach With Sweetened Sticky Rice
For the Stewed Peach:
120 gm Canned Peach
200 ml Orange Squash
50 gm Sugar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
For the Sweetened Sticky Rice:
100 gm Thai Sticky Rice
100 ml Coconut Milk
50 gm Sugar
Pinch of Salt
5 gm tapioca flour
Stew the peach in a syrup made with orange squash, sugar and cinnamon sticks for 15 minutes. Remove from fire and let it cool.
Soak the sticky rice in water for 6 hours and steam for 30 minutes till done. Make a sauce out of coconut milk, sugar and pinch of salt. Thicken will tapioca flour mixed in water.
Mix the cooked rice with half of the sweetened coconut milk.
For the presentation mould the sticky rice in a plate and put a peach on top of the molded rice, Pour the sweetened coconut milk and garnish with mint leaves, orange segment and rambutan.