Spectrum On One's chef on Chinese food, fortune cookies and fish and chips
Chef de cuisine, Spectrum On One
You’re a Schezuan chef. How does that differ from other types of Chinese food? Obviously it originates from that area in China. It’s all about the spices – we use especially fresh pepper in Schezuan dishes. At Spectrum we use recipes from China but incorporate more fashionable twists – for example, we try to make our dishes healthier than they would normally be.
Which dish do you recommend people try? Any of the seafood dishes, people will love them – especially the prawn and crab with the light sauce. They’re so refreshing.
What is the secret to cooking good Chinese food? To use the freshest ingredients possible. When I was young my parents would take me to the local market where we would pick out vegetables and spices. If your basics are fresh there’s no need to add extra salt or soy sauce.
Do you ever read Fortune cookies? No, not really. I don’t believe in them. I know foreigners love them though.
Which other Chinese restaurants in Dubai do you eat at? I’ve tried the Shang Palace at the Shangri-La and Junsui, an Asian restaurant in the Burj [Al Arab], which serves Chinese as well as Japanese, Thai, Indonesian and Korean. These two places are more specialised in Cantonese food, especially the Shangri-La. Around 98 per cent of Chinese restaurants are Cantonese, serving a lot of Dim Sum and Peking Duck.
Do you ever get sick of Chinese food yourself? No, I eat it all the time – if I’m at home I eat Chinese food. I’ll have fried rice for breakfast.
OK, so there’s no Chinese food left in the world – what do you eat? Actually it depends on my mood, sometimes I like fish and chips. I’ve been living in London for three years so I love English food.
How does the cooking industry differ there? It’s very, very competitive. I enjoyed my time there but I won’t forget about the long hours, the stress and all the manic peeling, chopping and picking – that was a nightmare.
It’s your last meal. What do you choose to eat? Rice and vegetables. I’m a very simple person. If I go out to eat I’ll try street food, junk food, whatever. A colleague might tell me there’s a great Indian in Karama and I’ll go and have a look. It doesn’t matter how much it costs.
Steven’s signature dish
Wok Fried Green Asparagus with Scallops 150g scallops
50g green asparagus
2g spring onion
½ tbsp sesame oil
1 clove star anise
2 tbsp fish stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean the scallops and remove the veins under running water.
Dry with a paper towel. Peel the asparagus and cut into three-inch bits.
Finely chop the garlic and ginger. In a pot, quickly blanch the scallops in boiling water for 10 seconds.
Remove the scallops and cool in a bowl filled with ice water. In a hot wok, add the vegetable oil and sweat the chopped garlic and ginger.
Add the asparagus and the scallops. Fry for three minutes. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and star anise. Add the fish stock, sesame oil and sprinkle with the spring onions.
Chef Steven will be offering Shanghai and Szechuan inspired fare at the Fairmont Dubai during their Great Wall of China promotion, running from 15 April – 31 May 2008. Spectrum On One, Fairmont Dubai (04 332 5555). Open 6.30pm-1am daily (brunch served Fri 12 noon-3pm). All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine Dhs400-500.