Wok wonders with chef Raymond Wong
“3... 2... 1... Go!” shouted Raymond Wong as he started tossing his wok. Ten students gathered around him watched keenly as he rustled up one Cantonese dish after another. t2 took notes as the head chef of Yauatcha, India, shared his popular recipes at Wok Special Masterclass held in association with t2 at the Oriental dine den Yauatcha, in Quest mall, on April 26.
Yauatcha (India) head chef Raymond Wong, originally from Malaysia, is also the head chef of Hakkassan, a Cantonese restaurant in Mumbai. t2 pinned him down for a chat after some wok madness in the kitchen.
Cooking for you is...
Happiness and something I take pride in. The smile of my customers leaving the restaurant after a hearty meal is my reward.
When did you start cooking and how long have you been doing it professionally?
For over 30 years, across 10 countries. I have worked for some of the finest Asian restaurants in Australia, Mauritius, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. My contribution to Cantonese cuisine from the Szechuan region in China has brought me global accolades.
Your father was a chef too. Is he your role model?
Yes, he is my role model. He was a second generation Cantonese staying in Malaysia. He used to be a chef at a local restaurant. When I was 16, I decided to follow in his footsteps. On my first day at work, he told me, ‘Son, if you want a job that can take you to places, stay true to your roots and become a Chinese cuisine chef.’
What’s the main skill one must master to be in a Chinese kitchen?
The traditional wok skills. The meaning of ‘wok’ is fast; so it’s all rapid, with the fire and everything. In Chinese cuisine, we have different types of cooking — fast cooking in an iron wok, slow in a steel wok, steaming, braising and grilling. But wok is the most important utensil in Cantonese cuisine. That’s why all the dishes are nice, shiny and beautiful.
What are the do and don’t when using a wok?
When you braise for a long time in a wok, you have to manage the fire, which is not easy, especially when it’s an iron wok. It is not suitable for a long braise as it could leave a smell. Only in the last minute everything is tossed around for a short period. It is important to clean your wok after cooking every dish, even if you’re going to make the same dish again.
Your favourite dish to cook in a wok?
I love cooking seafood. My favourite wok dish at Yauatcha is Steamed Indian Sea Bass in Spicy Black Bean Sauce.
An ingredient you love using?
Truffle and edamame. After seeing how our patrons love our Truffle and Edamame Dim Sum, I experimented and introduced the Truffle Fried Rice in our Chinese New Year menu, which was well appreciated. This time I’ve experimented with mushrooms.
A celebrity you would love to cook for?
There are many celebs who love our food. I have heard a lot about Calcutta’s popular hero Abir Chatterjee, who keeps coming to Yauatcha. I would love to serve him our Truffle Edamame Dim Sum.
ON THE MENU
Black Truffle Paste Fried Rice with Mushrooms
Jasmine rice 300g
Shiitake mushrooms or button mushrooms 5g
Black truffle paste 5g
Truffle oil 5g
Sliced asparagus 10g
Red Thai chillies 5g
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Steam the jasmine rice for 20 minutes.
2. Blanch the mushroom and asparagus for five minutes.
3. Heat the wok with two ladles of oil to ensure that the rice does not stick to the wok while cooking.
4. Add refined oil in the wok along with rice, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Toss it for 30 seconds and then add the truffle paste and the truffle oil.
5. Serve the rice in a bowl and garnish it with asparagus, chopped chillies and black truffle paste.
WHAT THEY LOVED
I was initially sceptical to wake up early and make it to the event, but in the end it was a whole lot of fun for the brain and the stomach. Good crowd, great food and chef Raymond was amazing — Meghdut Roychowdhury, director, Techno India Group
Out of all the masterclasses that I have been to, this had to be the best. Chef Raymond was so interactive, funny and lively. I will definitely try making the noodles at home — Dhani Bhuwalka, a student of La Martiniere for Girls
It was a one-of-a-kind experience. I have never attended a masterclass where the chef taught his recipes in a professional kitchen. I loved the way chef Raymond Wong shared his recipes and showed his techniques. The food was to die for
— Deepti Mohindar, owner of Studio Meche
Text: Urvashi Bhattacharya. Pictures: Pabitra Das