Saturday, May 19, 2012

3 'Junior MasterChef' dishes for moms

Jobim Jalbuena prepares his mother's favorite dish, Yaman Dagat
After having their creations served in a homegrown casual dining restaurant last year, finalists of “Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition” kicked it up a notch as they worked alongside the executive chefs of the Makati Shangri-La hotel to prepare their mothers’ favorite dishes.

“Junior MasterChef” winner Kyle Imao and finalists Jobim Jalbuena and Mika Tanaka made their moms proud on Tuesday as they held a cooking demo for their dishes, which will be part of the Mother’s Day buffet spread of Circles Event CafĂ© on Sunday, May 13.

In January, the reality show contestants had their dishes served in Filipino-owned restaurant chain Pancake House, which has several branches across the country. Among them are cabbage lumpia in coconut breading, fish burger with brown rice pilaf, malunggay sauce and caramelized ginger, tofu eggplant salad, and baby back ribs with bacon potato salad and corn on the cob.

Other dishes include the “ampalayasilog” and “porksilog” steak, which gave a unique twist to the Filipino breakfast favorite which traditionally contains an egg, garlic rice and a viand.

Despite their seemingly supernatural cooking skills, Imao, Tanaka and Jalbuena are still very much like the average kid who enjoys watching “The Avengers” and “Naruto.”

And even if they gush about foie gras and truffles all day, they still have a soft spot for fast food.

“Oh yes. I love fast food. Very much,” Jalbuena said.

Jobim Jalbuena's "Yaman Dagat," a fried taro ball filled with seafood, malunggay pesto and cheese
Jobim’s ‘Yaman Dagat’
Jalbuena, the eldest of the three, began the demo at the Makati Shangri-La by preparing an appetizer which he called “Yaman Dagat” or wealth of the sea.

Simply put, “Yaman Dagat” is a fried taro ball filled with chopped oysters, clams, mussels and crabmeat, as well as malunggay and kesong puti or carabao cheese. It sits on a mango-pimiento relish and garnished with pesto, arugula and pako, a type of fern.

The dish looks like a giant pearl surrounded by sea plants. And it tastes as good as it looks.

“My mom likes this dish because this is mostly healthy. She can eat it without thinking that she’s gaining weight,” the 13-year-old said. “Making this dish would take time, but it’s really good to eat.”
Just like a host of a cooking show, Jalbuena reminded his audience about kitchen rules while preparing his dish. “Always use a sharp knife. Clean the chopping board. Use a tissue or a towel.”
He also shared some of his thoughts about cooking.

“You can do whatever you want in cooking. You can remove, you can add. Besides, you’re the one who’s going to eat it.

“I like making Filipino fusion food. I use local ingredients with other ingredients to make a better dish.

“In plating, you can do anything as it shows your creativity.”

For those who want to try Jalbuena’s appetizer at home, here is the recipe of “Yaman Dagat.”

YAMAN DAGAT (serves 12)
For the malunggay pesto-kesong puti balls
- 20 grams malunggay
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 80 grams kesong puti
- 5 grams pine nuts (or pili nuts)
- 5 grams garlic, minced

For the seafood balls
- 100 grams fresh oysters, chopped
- 100 grams clams, precooked and chopped
- 50 grams mussels, precooked and chopped
- 50 grams fresh crabmeat, shredded
- 50 grams onions, minced
- 10 grams garlic, minced
- 2 egg yolks
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large taro, boiled and mashed

For the mango-pimiento relish
- 70 grams fresh ripe mango
- 40 grams roasted red bell pepper, minced
- 20 grams onion, minced
- 10 grams cilantro, minced

For the garnish
- fresh pako
- micro arugula

For the drizzle
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 red chili
- 20 grams red onion, minced
- 10 grams garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper

1. Boil the taro.
2. Soak clams and mussels in salted water for half an hour. While these are soaked, work on the relish, drizzle and malunggay pesto-kesong puti ball.
3. Blend all ingredients of the malunggay pesto-kesong puti balls using a blender or food processor until you have a thick cheese-like mixture. Put it in a piping bag and pipe into circles. Freeze for 30 minutes so it would be easier to stuff it inside the seafood ball.
4. Mix all ingredients for the relish. Set aside.
5. Mix all ingredients for the drizzle. Set aside.
6. Precook the clams, mussels and oysters. Mix all the chopped raw seafood, onions, garlic and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper. Form into the size of golf balls and stuff with the malunggay pesto-kesong puti mixture.
7. Roll the seafood balls in the mashed taro and deep fry until golden brown.
8. Serve on top of mango-pimiento relish and garnish with fresh pako and micro arugula.

Kyle Imao plates his mother's favorite dish, shrimp scampi
Kyle’s shrimp scampi
Imao, meanwhile, looked every bit the professional chef as he prepared his mother’s favorite dish, shrimp scampi with parsley rice pilaf and parsley truffle oil.

The 12-year-old “Junior MasterChef” winner obviously knows his food, always having something to say while doing his main course.

“You should use long-grain rice, you want it to be fluffy. And butter – not too healthy, though,” Imao said as he checked how his rice is doing. “I use chicken stock because my mom doesn’t eat beef and pork. But you can use other stock. That’s one part rice, two parts stock.

“I don’t use olive oil for this dish because it would mask the flavor of the parsley. I use canola oil for it has no taste.

“Roll the lemon first before you squeeze it so the juice comes out easily. Don’t overcook the prawns. It will get tough and not be juicy.”

Imao’s shrimp scampi was well-plated, too, considering that it was done by a 12-year-old. He made use of balsamic tar and a parmesan crisp to decorate his dish, things that normal kids would not be familiar with.

“Balsamic tar is prepared using equal parts balsamic vinegar and sugar. Then just heat it,” he said. “I put art in my food. I want it to be beautiful. I use balsamic tar to paint my plate.”

Here is the recipe for Imao’s shrimp scampi.

Kyle Imao's shrimp scampi with parsley rice pilaf and parsley truffle oil

For the shrimp scampi
- 1/4 kilo large prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (marjoram, thyme, rosemary and sage)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1/2 dry white wine
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon each of paprika, salt and garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon capers in brine
- Salt and pepper to taste

For the parsley rice pilaf
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 3 tablespoons butter, salted
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon basil leaves, finely chopped

For the parsley truffle oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 tablespoon truffle oil

For the parmesan crisp
- 1/4 grated parmesan cheese (not powder)

For the garnish
- balsamic tar
- arugula leaves or baby rocket
- parsley
- capers
- fried spaghetti noodles

1. Toss the prawns in a medium bowl with the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme and Italian seasoning.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, place the olive oil and butter, then add the prawns. Sear for 30 seconds. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds.
3. Add the capers, half of the white wine and lemon juice to the pan and cook for one to two minutes.
4. Remove the prawns, then add the rest of the white wine in the pan and continue simmering until reduced to 1/4 cup.
5. Remove from heat and strain the sauce. Set aside.
6. On a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add the rice. Saute the rice until it has absorbed the butter.
7. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 20 minutes or until done.
8. Fluff the rice and add the rest of the butter, parsley, lemon zest and basil leaves. Mix to evenly distribute the herbs. Season with salt if needed.
9. In a blender, add parsley, canola oil and truffle oil. Cook over low heat until oil changes to deep emerald green. Season with salt and pepper, then strain with a fine mesh strainer.
10. For the parmesan crisp, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Arrange parmesan cheese on the lined baking tray, creating a rectangle. Bake for five minutes or until golden brown. While hot, shape into a ring basket using a cookie cutter as a guide.
11. When about to serve the dish, paint designs on the plate using the balsamic tar placed inside a narrow-tipped squeeze bottle. Place parmesan crisp at the center of the plate and fill with parsley rice pilaf. Place a couple of arugula leaves on top of the rice to serve as the base of the prawns. Place a teaspoon of the sauce and arrange the prawns on top. Drizzle remaining sauce and parsley oil using a siphon. Garnish with fried spaghetti noodles, parsley and capers.

Mika Tanaka prepares her mother's favorite dish, Japanese green tea cake
Mika’s Green Tea Cake
Tanaka, meanwhile, did not appear as confident as Jalbuena and Imao when she showed how to prepare her mother’s favorite dessert, Japanese green tea cake.

Shy and nervous, the 12-year-old was assisted by Makati Shangri-La’s pastry chef, Anthony Collar.

“In baking, you should be exact with the measurements. There are no remedies,” Tanaka said, as she regularly lets Collar check what she is doing.

“My mom loves it. It’s really not that sweet,” she said about the dessert.

Collar, meanwhile, praised Tanaka’s creation, which she called “simple” and “humble.”

“This is what food is all about,” he said. “It shouldn’t be too complicated.”

By the time the dish was served, Tanaka warned that the crust may “taste burnt.” 
Well, it was, but the slight bitterness somewhat improved the overall flavor of the dish.

With her humility, determination and skill, this girl will surely go places.
Here is the recipe for Tanaka’s Japanese green tea cake.

For the cake
- 100 grams flour
- Pinch of salt
- 60 grams sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon water
- 5 tablespoons green tea powder
- 3 tablespoons honey

Mika Tanaka's Japanese green tea cake
For the base
- 1 cup Graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup melted butter

For the mousse
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose cream
- Green tea powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix warm water, eggs and sugar. Whip until the mixture is triple in volume.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the milk, green tea powder and honey. Pour in the egg mixture.
4. Sift the salt and flour and fold it together using a spatula.
5. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until cooked.
6. For the base, mix the melted butter and the crumbs.
7. For the mousse, melt the butter and sugar. Once the mixture becomes light amber in color, slowly add in the cream and green tea powder. Let it cool, then fold the whipped cream and caramel mixture together.
8. Assemble the cake by adding the base, followed by the cream, then the cake, and other layer of cream. Let it cool, then sprinkle with green tea powder.

Mika Tanaka, Kyle Imao and Jobim Jalbuena pose for a photo with their moms and their favorite dishes

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