When Chef Steve Allen came on board the E&O Group as its Group Creative Chef earlier this year, I knew it would be a matter of time before he’d be showcasing some true-blue British dishes. After all, Chef Allen is “True Brit” through and through.
Well, what do you know – just last week I had a chance to check out Delicious Café’s “A Taste of Great Britain” promotion which is happening in all the Malaysian Delicious from 1 October to 30 November 2012.
There are a total of 8 dishes from Starters to Desserts to give you a fair idea of what traditional British food is all about. However, some of these dishes have been tweaked and personalized by Chef Allen. “They are tweaked, but not really modernized… for example, the steak pudding was originally done with oysters and kidneys. Lamb cobbler can actually be done as a sweet pudding. However, our Cornish pasty is true to the classic Cornish pasty recipe” explained Chef Allen.
Fish Fingers (RM18.90) is just about as British as anything can get. Fingers of crumbed whitefish deep-fried till golden brown are served on a bed of mushy peas with tartare sauce by the side. The mushy peas may not look that attractive but taste-wise, it’s delicious and goes very well with the tender fish fingers.
When the Cock a Leekie Soup (RM14.90) was served, I couldn’t decide it if’s a soup or a porridge. Well, it’s actually kinda both as it is a traditional Scottish congee of chicken, rice, leek, garlic, thyme and prunes. I like the bits of the sourish sweetish prunes in this savoury congee. Such a cute name… this soup/congee is a great bowl of comfort food.
My favourite dish is the Lamb, Carrots & Rosemary Cobbler (RM27.90). Cobbler (as in the food, not the shoemaker) refer to a dish whereby a fruity or savoury filling is baked in a deep dish, covered by a layer of biscuits or pie crust. When baked, the surface has the appearance of a “cobbled street”, hence the name “cobbler”. The delicious filling of fork-tender chunky lamb cooked in a thick dark gravy, fragrant with rosemary was a delight to eat, especially with those crumbly crunchy biscuits.
The Cornish Beef Pasty (RM19.50) looks like an enormous curry puff, but Chef Allen made no bones about this pasty being made “true to the classic Cornish pasty recipe”. Do you know there’s actually a Cornish Pasty Association in Great Britain formed by a group of more than 50 pasty makers in Cornwall? The role of the association is to protect the quality and reputation of the Cornish pasty as the production of Cornish pasties makes a signification contribution to the Cornish economy. Conforming to the strict rule on the distinctive D-shape, Chef Allen’s pasty is robust with the pastry having fully infused the flavours of the beef, potatoes and onions filling. The pasty is served with a thick savoury brown sauce and is a fulfilling dish on its own.
The Steak & Onion Pudding (RM24.90) is another satisfying pie-like dish. The Brits call it a pudding though and I was surprised that it’s actually a steamed pudding! Chef Allen explained that the beef and onions (seasoned with Worcestershire sauce) were wrapped in the pastry, moulded into the dish and steamed for 5 hours. The texture of the pudding is crumbly, so it’s not surprising that many would take it as a pie! This is actually Chef Allen’s personal favourite – he got hooked on this ever since he first started making this at the Boodles Gentlemen’s Club in London.
On the other hand, the Fish Pie (RM32.90) looks more like a pudding than a pie – yes, I know this sounds really confusing! Perhaps the Brits’ perception of pies and puddings are quite different from mine?! Chunks of salmon, sole, tiger prawns and peas have been baked in a creamy custardy Bechamel cheese sauce. It’s very rich and filling and you must savour the sweet briny taste of the seafood when it’s served piping hot.
The Mixed Berry Summer Pudding (RM16.90) is a startling bright red ensemble, thanks to the liberal use of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. The dollop of mascarpone cream by the side balances the tartness of the berries nicely.
Of the 2 desserts, I like the Rhubarb Crumble (RM14.90) which has a nice warm gingery taste in it. The thick silky custard sauce enhances the crumbly pastry and tart rhubarb … truly adds on the pleasure of this dessert.
So, head on over to your nearest Delicious Café if you wish to savour some of these traditional British offerings – they’ll take you back to the era of home-cooked goodness straight from Britain’s well-loved kitchens.
Chef Steve Allen with his favourite British dishes
Check out the Delicious Cafes here on their website.