HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It’s January 2014 and yes, finally I can reveal this.
Six of my recipes are featured in the January 2014 issue of Flavours magazine. It’s in the special Chinese New Year section from page 36-41.
When I was first approached to undertake this project, I wasn’t certain if I have it in me to do something like this. During a chat, my good buddy Alice Yong asked me what kind of dishes we eat at home during Chinese New Year. I cited a few dishes which have always made their appearances on our dining table during CNY, dishes which my mother and mother-in-law used to cook. To me, those are pretty ordinary because we almost always have them every year once CNY swings around. Then Alice asked me if I can share the recipes and if I’m game enough to give some of them a modern twist.
I came up with these… some very traditional dishes enjoyed by my family and some playful modern twists in the desserts!
Hai Choe (Traditional Deep-fried Crabmeat Dumplings)
Pat Poh Farn (8 Treasures Rice)
The soup for Tuen Yuen Foh Wor (Happy Reunion Hotpot)
Shuin Mui Ngap (Braised Duck with Sour Plums)
Kum Jeong Nin Ko (Deep-fried Glutinuous Rice Cake Parcels with Mandarin Coulis)
Zhu Poh Nin Ko (Glutinuous Rice Cake with Pumpkin Seeds & Cranberries)
I figured this would be an exciting project to do, something which I’ve never done before. So I agreed. I was actually given a very short timeline to come up with the recipes and a date was set for the magazine’s professional photographer to come to my house to do the photo shoot.
The two experts at work
The writing, rewriting and fine-tuning of the recipes didn’t take very long. Prior to the photo shoot, I cooked the dishes once to ensure that everything will work out fine. My family and Alice were made the guinea pigs – they had to taste the dishes and give me their feedback. Based on that, it was back to more fine-tuning of the recipes.
Everything must be precisely placed!
Then, before I knew it, the day of the photo shoot arrived. Yap Chee Hong, the slick and sassy photographer turned up at my doorstep right on time, lugging in his equipment and promptly set them up. Alice brought the necessary props – crockery, table cloths, table mats etc. I dished up the food, course by course and let both Chee Hong and Alice do the food styling. Chee Hong is incredibly patient and meticulous – that piece of carrot just had to be next to that dried oyster, the garnishings have to look “not deliberate”, the chopsticks have to be placed in opposing ends and colours of props must enhance the food – wow, I learned so many tips just watching the guy work!
The shoot in progress
Getting the right lighting and exposure
Of course once he has set up the food to his satisfaction and started shooting, I also “tumpang” shoot lah. I always learn from the best. I tried to copy and mimic his angles, position and framing but of course, my photos are nowhere near his professional level lah.
There were some reliable assistants around too!
This was how the 8-Treasure Rice looked like before the props were added in
And this is how it appears in the magazine, with props and all! (my amateur shot)
Every piece must be positioned at the right angle
My shot of the Hai Choe – of course it’s not as good as the expert’s
Laying out & arranging the items for the hotpot took some time, bearing in mind the combination of colours and textures
For the duck dish, various types of props were tried for effects
But in the end, this was the preferred one (I tried to get almost the same angle, hehe!)
The photo shoot took more than 6 hours – for 6 items. That’s more than an hour for one dish! When it’s all over, we all sat down and tried to finish the food, haha!
It’s not easy piling up the Nin Ko Parcels, haha! They kept toppling over but Chee Hong has very steady fingers!
I love how the simple Nin Ko Parcels end up looking so glam in this shot – of course I copied the professional’s angle lah!
(and don’t you just love that tea set?)
When I made these sticky Nin Ko pieces, I thought they were rather messy but then sometimes a mess can turn out very prettily, don’t you agree?
It has been a great experience for me. Of course I feel happy and proud to see my recipes in print in a well-known food magazine. I never knew my dishes can look so nice – but of course, that’s after the magic touches from Chee Hong and Alice! Thank you, Alice & Chee Hong for the great work – love working with you both.
I like how Anne Barbosa (Deputy Editor of Flavours) introduced me in her Editorial Note: “… food enthusiast Chris Wan (aka blogger PureGlutton) proves she is a firecracker in the kitchen”! Thank you, Flavours, for the opportunity.
So, if you are interested, do pick up a copy of the January 2014 issue of Flavours and check out my recipes. If you like them, do try them out!
GOONG HEI FATT CHOY!