Competition

I am back in Spain after spending a week or so in London preparing for the YLS UK Charity Dinner that took place on the 26th June.

It was a good experience and judging from the feedback I received, it looks like people enjoyed themselves (or are they just being kind and polite?!).

It was also great to meet up again with former Laocook intern Emile who has finished her culinary studies and is currently based in Madrid. She flew over from the capital to prepare the pre-desserts and desserts proper.

The event was filmed and as soon as the footage (8 hours!) has been edited I will post the video here.

Whilst I was there I got the chance to visit a few restaurants during my spare time. The first item on my list of things to devour was Dim Sum. I have yet to taste good Dim Sum in Spain, so I miss it and was eager to get stuck in to some in London. Apart from the obvious MSG overdose, I was pleased with what I ordered (on three different days in two restaurants!!)(Steamed and Fried Dumplings, Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce, Fried Eel with Salt and Pepper (responsible for the MSG overdose!) etc…).

It wasn’t only Dim Sum that I missed, I also missed Roasted Duck with Crispy Noodles and Stir Fried Flat Noodles. The latter is sometimes called “Ho Fun” on most menus and refers to the fresh flat rice noodles that are cooked in the wok or enjoyed in a soup based dish. In Thai, “Sen Yai” would be the alternative.

After lunch we were taken to the local Oriental Superstore, where I love spending time looking at all the wonderful ingredients, fruits and foods that I cannot get in Spain. Those people who live in cities are spoilt for choice, and they don’t even know it!

In the chilled section I saw packets of the flat noodles that I had enjoyed in the restaurant. I was tempted to buy some and bring them back to Spain to be enjoyed either stir fried or in a steaming bowl of Pho. I thought to myself about freezing them? Though that would mean a loss in texture once thawed. No good.

At that moment in the cold aisle I decided that when I got back, and in “good ole Laocook fashion“, I would make my own.

Most of the projects that I undertake are based on things that I enjoy and cannot find here. Chili Oil is a good example, as well as Prawn Crakers and Fermented Pork (Som Moo) to name a few.

Though I am still working on my recipe, the current results are very good and look (and taste) extremely promising!

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The basic method behind these noodles is very easy. Like most homemade recipes, you get a great sense of achievement being able to make something from scratch.

I know that some people may think that there is a lot of work (and mess) involved to make such things in the kitchen, when the same things can be purchased “in a store near you!”.

But we all know that homemade “jeow bong” is far better than the oily stuff you see on shelves, or that even warm homemade pancakes drizzled with lemon juice and sugar taste better than the “heat in microwave on high for 30 seconds” stuff that you can find near the bread section of supermarkets.

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The recipes that I found for these noodles nearly all contained rice flour and water as their main ingredients. Thereafter it became a little confusing regarding what other flours to add. Some used tapioca flour, others potato flour, some called for wheat starch, all in different measurements.

Then it gets more confusing as wheat starch is not the same as wheat flour or corn starch. In some countries some of the names are interchangeable.

When it comes to basic recipes, its more or less a science with personal flair added.

Think about baking bread. The basic recipe calls for flour, salt, yeast and water. Any other additional ingredients added result in a different bread. The same applies to noodles.

I´ll go back to the basics and use just rice flour and water. Easy. All I need to do now is to add a few other ingredients and test cooking times, then Voila!

Once I have eaten my way through bowls and bowls of flat noodles, I´ll post the results on this blog.

Its not all been about noodles in the kitchens lately. Every now and again I run small internal competitions for the rest of the cooks.

I choose two ingredients and let the cooks come up with a dish that uses these as main protagonist in a recipe.

The competition is also used as an exercise for the cooks. They are judged on Originality, Presentation and Taste. I select a panel of 6 judges from the various departments in the hotel to give points for the above criteria.

Nearly all of my cooks from 3 (out of 5) restaurants enter the event!

It would take forever to post photos from all the dishes involved, so below you will find some of the highlights of the Pork and Onion competition.

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Former winner Reka gets her sauteing pan ready.

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Mise en Place is everything.

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Kittirat confits some potatoes with herbs and chilli in warm oil.

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This Spanish Iberian Pork has been slow cooked for 24 hours.

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The 6 judges have to award points.

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The participants begin their plating. The the slow cooked pork is presented with the confit potatoes that have been filled with caramelized onion, there is also a crispy onion “truffle”.

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On this dish pork and onion rolls are served on 3 types of crispy onions which will later have an onion and sherry reduction drizzled over them.

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This dish sees a roasted onion puree being used as a base of roasted Iberian pork tenderloin.

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Finishing touches and presentation are very important.

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The would be winning dish is put together. Courgette Cannelloni with Stewed Pork, Onion Puree and Spanish Ham Crumbs, Pork “Dtom Khem” Sauce.

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Junior adds his finishing garnishes.

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Junior is presented with his prize, a voucher for a stay in a different 5 Star Hotel!

Congratulations to all of the cooks to took part in the competition. You are all winners!.

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3 thoughts on “Competition

  1. Looks so yummy..  I was wondering where your restaurant locate in Spain?  I’ll be vacationing in Europe next month or so.  If I’m near by, I like to stop by to eat at your place and say “sabaidee:-)”.  If you can, please email me back when you get a chance.  Kob Jai der!!!

  2. That’s great! I love reading about cooking experiments. Can’t wait to read your results for ho fun from scratch!

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