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(Left) Luigi Calcagno, Head Chef of Monti. (Right) Risotto Alla Rose.

(Left) Kirk Westaway, Chef de Cuisine of JAAN. (Right) Maple-Cured Rainbow Trout with Heirloom Beetroot.

Sam Chablani, Head Chef of Fat Lulu's.

(Left) Jeremmy Chiam, Head chef of Le Binchotan. (Right) Crispy Fungi with Truffle Mayo.

Tim Ross-Watson, Owner and Executive Chef of PYXIEMOSS.

Love Bites

When it comes to wooing the loves of their lives, these dishy chefs have the perfect recipes. Rachel Loi gets them to share.
Feb 11, 2017 5:50 AM

Luigi Calcagno
Head Chef of Monti

Chef Calcagno, 36, was inspired to create his Valentine dish "by a menu I developed with a colleague in Italy about 12 years ago," he explains. "We were tasked to come up with dishes that were inspired by the song "Samba da Rose", the Italian version of Ornella Vanoni, Vinicius de Moraes and Toquinho's bossa nova classic, "Samba della Rosa". Over the years, I've worked on and fine-tuned this recipe, and thought it would be perfect as part of our Valentine's Day menu at Monti. It's a great dish to prepare as it involves red roses - a classic symbol of love - and is also an unexpected flavour pairing for a risotto dish. If you happen to have a rose bush in your garden - which many people do in Europe - it's an elegant and delicate dish to cook for your date."

Risotto Alla Rose

Ingredients >

30g edible rose petals, whole (for soaking, adding to rice, and garnish) // 50ml Champagne or white wine // 2tsp extra virgin olive oil // 15g onion, finely chopped // 150g Carnaroli rice // 400ml vegetable stock // 2ml rose water or rose liqueur // 20g butter // 40g parmesan, grated // salt and pepper, to taste

Method >

1. Soak 10g of whole rose petals in Champagne or white wine for three hours.

2. Heat a medium pan and sauté onions in extra virgin olive oil until golden.

3. Add the Carnaroli rice and deglaze with wine-soaked rose petals once the rice is hot.

4. Add 10g of chopped rose petals into the pan.

5. Ladle vegetable stock one ladleful at a time once the rice dries out. Stir constantly until the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. The texture of the rice should be creamy, but not too solid or too watery.

6. Add rose water or rose liqueur, butter and parmesan. If the risotto is difficult to stir, add a ladleful of stock and reduce until the right consistency is achieved.

7. Season to taste.

8. Plate the risotto in the centre of a white plate. Add a drop of extra virgin olive oil and garnish with the remaining rose petals.

Kirk Westaway
Chef de Cuisine of JAAN

Devon-born Chef Westaway, 30, doesn't believe in short cuts when it comes to love.

"I would go above and beyond, taking the afternoon off work to source for the best and freshest produce to impress my date with a multi-course menu. I usually start with some fresh plump French oysters before making fresh pasta paired with a light white wine sauce, capers and sun-blushed tomatoes topped with fresh crab. I also love making grass-fed aged fillet of beef with asparagus and béarnaise sauce. Though I'm not a huge fan of dessert, I will bake a mini warm chocolate fondant with a liquid center and a scoop of caramel fudge ice cream to round off the meal and keep her happy.

"For this Valentine's Day, I was inspired to create a plate of ocean trout paired with heirloom beetroot for a clean, delicate and fresh flavour. I wanted to create a visually stunning dish where the vibrant colours and ingredients like heirloom beetroot which are pickled, roasted, puréed and served as a sweet chip alongside the trout will surely impress a date with its contrasting rich and delicate flavours."

Maple-Cured Rainbow Trout with Heirloom Beetroot

Ingredients >

Marinated Ocean Trout 500g ocean trout // 125g rock salt // 150g maple syrup // 25g cracked white pepper // scratch of lemon // scratch of fresh wasabi Beetroot Purée 500g roasted beetroot (peeled and diced) // 10g red wine vinegar // 15g olive oil Roast Beetroot 1kg beetroot yellow // 1kg beetroot Chioggia // 1pc lime // 10g olive oil // Salt Ikura 100g ikura // 2g soy sauce // 2g lime juice // 1g lime zest Light Cheese 200g Philadelphia cheese // 10g chives // 10g tarragon // 5g chervil Pickled Beetroot Slice 500g pink/yellow beetroot // 100g rice vinegar // 80g sugar // 1g chilli // 10g kombu // 10g Evian water Horseradish Relish 13g chardonnay vinegar // 75g fresh grated horseradish // 125g crème fraiche // 2g salt // 25g fine diced shallots Garnish chive flowers // micro-nasturtiums // bronze fennels

Method >

For Marinated Ocean Trout:

1. Remove scales and fillet fish, debone carefully

2. Wash and dry well

3. Cover with marinade and wrap tightly in cling film, then set aside to rest in the fridge

4. After 24 hours flip the fish over and let rest for another 24 hours

5. Wash fish in ice water, then store in a cloth and wrap in cling film

For Beetroot Purée:

Blend all ingredients together until a smooth consistency is achieved

For Roast Beetroot:

1. Wash the beetroots, wrap in foil with thyme, garlic bay leaf and grape seed oil

2. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes at 185 degrees Celsius until tender

3. Set them aside to cool inside the foil then portion into discs

For Ikura:

Marinate the ikura with soy sauce, lime juice and lime zest and place in a vacuum pouch. Keep really cold on ice.

For Light Cheese:

1. Slice the herbs

2. Mix in all ingredients gently, being careful not to bruise the herbs

For Pickled Beetroot Slice:

1. Warm ingredients for 10 minutes. Be careful not to boil

2. Slice beetroot on Japanese mandolin. Pour liquid over and let rest for 30 minutes

For Horseradish Relish:

1. Cut the shallots in a small brunoise then grate the horseradish with a micro plane

2. Mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

To Serve >

Dress the plate with these ingredients.

Sam Chablani
Head Chef of Fat Lulu's

"I believe in cooking with your heart," says the 32-year-old. "I love home-cooked mak-cik (Malay auntie) food and to me, nothing beats a good hardcore rendang. The good thing about this is that you can prepare it a day in advance and just heat it up on the day you're cooking for your date. I find that it tastes better the following day as well. You could serve this along with simple steamed rice or even surprise your date while she's at work with a lunch box. I don't try to be fancy when I'm trying to impress someone. Simple, clean-cut honest food always wins hearts. Plus, ginger flower prices don't spike like roses and other flowers during the Valentine season."

Fat Lulu's Beef Rendang

Ingredients >

Beef 1kg Beef short-ribs diced into 1.5 inch cubes Spice Paste 100g peeled shallots // 50g peeled garlic // 2cm X 1cm peeled old ginger // 2 cardamom // 6 candlenuts // 30g fresh turmeric root // 100g red chilli // 8 chilli padi // 5g blue ginger (galangal) // 5g ginger flower For Braising 150ml neutral flavored oil (eg. corn, vegetable, or canola) // ½ lemongrass stalk, // 4 whole lime leaves // 2tbs palm sugar Finishing Condiments 150ml coconut cream // 3tbs ABC kechap manis (sweet soy sauce) // ~¾tbsp fine salt (add to taste) Garnish 10 fresh coriander leaves

Method >

1. Blend the spice paste up in a mixer or pound it with a mortar and pestle to work your biceps and forearms.

2. Heat up the oil. Add in the paste and the lemongrass stalk. The oil should not start to smoke but must be hot enough to fry the paste.

3. Keep frying at medium heat till the "rawness" of the paste is gone.

4. Stir in the beef and coat it. Then immediately add in the water, palm sugar and lime leaf. Note: Do not cover the beef more than 2/3rd of the way with water because after an hour, the beef will release its own juices and the gravy will naturally increase.

5. Bring to a simmer and do not boil. Stir frequently. Boiling will cause intense evaporation before the beef is fully-cooked.

6. After about 2 to 2.5 hours, the beef will be very tender and should fall apart in your mouth. Careful as it will be very hot and you may scald your tongue.

7. Season the rendang with the fine salt, coconut cream and the kechap manis. Transfer to a container and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.

8. The following day when you wish to heat it up, do so in a pot but very gently with a lid on top. It will be very thick. Adjust the seasoning. The rendang should be salty, spicy, rich and aromatic with the flavors of the spice paste and coconut. Remember you'll be eating this with rice so it needs to be highly-seasoned. I always taste my rendang with rice and adjust accordingly.

9. Garnish with fresh coriander

Jeremmy Chiam
Head chef of Le Binchotan

"Personally as a chef, a lot of my cooking is based on fond memories I have shared with my loved ones; be it family, friends, or a date," says Chef Chiam, 30. "I believe in conveying emotions through simple food that doesn't just satisfy the palate, but also warms the heart. This dish was inspired by a special someone who loves truffle fries but hates the calories in it. This person is actually my first love from a long time ago, and she has yet to taste this dish. I chose to use mushrooms because I believe in using humble ingredients. The truffle mayonnaise provides a play on texture and enhances the umami flavour of the mushrooms. The tartness of the pickled daikon cuts through the richness. Simplicity is often the best when it comes to food."

Crispy Fungi with Truffle Mayo

Ingredients >

Tempura Batter 330ml soda water // 220g tempura flour // 3g salt Truffle Mayo 100g Kewpie mayonnaise // 30g black truffle paste // 6g white truffle oil Mushrooms 100g enoki mushroom // 60g brown shimeiji mushroom // 30g oyster mushroom Garnish Spring onion; thinly sliced // Pickled yellow daikon (Tokuyo Takuwan); julienne (pre-cut into long strips) *This is a must as it is key to the flavours.

Method >

For Tempura batter:

Put all 3 ingredients together and mix it well

For Truffle Mayo:

1. Put all 3 ingredients together and mix it well

2. Set aside in chiller

To Serve >

1. Coat all the mushrooms in the batter and deep-fry at 170°C for about 3-4 mins till golden brown

2. Place it on a kitchen paper and sprinkle a dash of salt

3. Place the fried mushrooms on the plate, drizzle truffle mayo, and place spring onion and pickled daikon on top

*Optional: If your date is a truffle-lover, slice a few pieces of fresh truffle on top!

Tim Ross-Watson
Owner and Executive Chef of PYXIEMOSS

"You need to know the woman you're cooking for," says the 32-year-old Surrey-born chef who started cooking st the age of five. "You need to know what she likes or does not like. She is going to be a captive audience so it's important to pick the right ingredients that makes her smile and get excited. My kind of lady is one that loves a well-cooked piece of pork. And to make it fresh and exciting, I'm pairing it with ingredients that add on punchy flavours and textures. At the end of the day, always go with what she likes, no matter what she likes because Valentine's Day is more about the lady than you. So if she likes a vegan bowl, you just gotta suck it up, guys!"

Iberico Pork with Yuzu-Miso Dressing & Smoked Potato Chips

Ingredients >

Pork collar 8g Himalayan pink salt // 500g Iberico pork collar // 20g sesame oil Yuzu Miso Dressing 20g yuzu miso // 60g extra virgin olive oil // 10g lime juice Smoked potato chips 150g russet potatoes // 1g Himalayan salt // 1g liquid smoke // 3g brown sugar // 1000g canola oil Garnishes 2 green shiso leaves (cut in half) // 10g wasabi leaves (com crop) // 3g pickled ginger (natural not pink) // 50g red radish (sliced 2mm thick) // 100g green apple (sliced 2mm thick) // 150g sashimi grade scallop (sliced 2mm thick)

Method >

For Pork Collar :

1. Season the collar with the oil and salt, place in a zip lock bag

2. Submerge bag to the zip in a pot of water to remove all the air then close the zip

3. Cook the collar in a waterbath set at 60C for 24 hours

4. Remove from the bath and bag, sear in a hot pan with a little oil till golden all over 5 Allow to rest for 2 minutes then cut into 8 random sized chunks

For Yuzu Miso Dressing:

Blend everything together in a jug with a hand blender till smooth

For Smoked potato chips:

1. Drain the potatoes well and carefully drop the slices in the hot oil (140C) cook till they stop bubbling and are golden brown

2. Remove from the oil and drain, toss the chips with the smoked liquid, salt and sugar and place on a tray and allow to cool

3. Store the chips in an airtight container till needed

To Serve >

1. Place on the plate in a criss cross line just off centre

2. Drape the scallop, red radish and green apple, shiso, wasabi leaves, chips, ginger on and around the meat

3. Spoon over some of the dressing and serve.