By Ang Hoe Khoon
Executive, Communications & External Relations
With this issue focusing on celebrations, The LKCMedicine caught up with two students who are known among their peers for their passion for food and culinary skills.
Much like medicine, cooking is part science, part art. “While taste is more important, it is ultimately a synergy of both that makes a dish great,” said Year 2 student Ken Chua, who along with classmate Joel Lim regularly delights his peers with his home-made creations.
Student chefs, Joel Lim and Ken Chua
From Smoked Duck with Spaghetti Tossed in Garlic and Olive Oil to Poulet Chardonnay Infused Portobello Roasted Chicken, Joel’s western dishes made with his home-grown herbs are famous among his peers, and Ken’s desserts, like his Tiramisu, hit the right sweet notes for after.
While Joel and Ken may have different specialties, they were both inspired and nurtured by their grandmothers, who encouraged them to delve deeper into the culinary arts from a young age. This sparked a passion that took them to where they are today, skilfully whipping up dishes for friends and family.
Food is all about the company and a means of bringing people together, where “the more, the merrier” definitely holds true, observed Ken. It is through cooking that the two chefs bring family and friends together to have a good time over a meal.
“Usually my dad gets takeaways and everyone eats separately. It is only when I cook that they come together, so that’s one of my biggest motivations," said Joel.
L-R: Joel's Poulet Chardonnay Infused Portobello Roasted Chicken, and Ken's Apple Rose Pastry (Courtesy of Joel and Ken)
While both Joel and Ken love cooking for their grandmothers, their dream is to share their signature dishes with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. “It might be scary because of his harsh critiques as seen on his shows. You can tell that he is someone who is really passionate about cooking,” Ken remarked.
Since starting medical school, Joel and Ken’s approach to cooking has evolved. Both have made adjustments to their recipes, such as using olive oil instead of vegetable oil to make their meals healthier.
Noted Joel, “I’ve become more mindful of what I eat, and also the amount of salt and oil used in my cooking.”
However, this has not stopped them from enjoying food that is not home cooked. “Singapore has really good and cheap food with the likes of Old Airport Road, ABC Brickworks at Queensway, and the East Coast Hawker Centre,” said Ken.
L-R: Ken's Matcha Cheesecake, and Joel's Smoked Duck with Spaghetti Tossed in Garlic & Olive Oil (Courtesy of Joel and Ken)
Piped Joel, “Yet it is always good to cook. It is a way to unwind and an opportunity to mix with friends here in the halls!”
Feeling inspired by their passion? Here are two recipes to impress friends and family this festive season!
Joel’s Spanish Seafood Paella
Prep time: 1 hour | Serves: 6
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 100g pack chorizo sausages, sliced
- 250g canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of saffron threads
- 2 cups of Arborio/Calrose rice
- 5 cups of fish or chicken stock
- 300g of chicken thigh, cubed
- 8 prawns, shells on for aesthetics
- 8 mussels & clams, both scrubbed well
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Heat the oil in a 12-15 inch paella pan, then sauté the tomatoes, onion and garlic for 5 minutes until golden
- Add the chicken thigh and chorizo sausages and fry until golden brown
- Stir in the paprika, saffron, and rice until evenly cooked by the sofrito (sauce), then pour in the stock
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, covered with a tent of aluminium foil
- Arrange the prawns, mussels, and clams neatly, heat for another 5 minutes or until the rice has soaked up all the stock, the mussels and clams have opened up, and the prawns are pink
- Turn up the heat to toast the grains at the bottom of the pan to form the socorrat (toasted, crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan)
- Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with freshly chopped parsley or basil (preferably home-grown) and serve immediately with lemon wedges
Ken’s Tiramisu (adapted from InspiredTaste.net)
Prep time: 30-40 mins plus chilling (min 6 hours)
- 120ml very strong coffee or brewed espresso at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons dry Marsala wine, divided into two equal portions
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, yolks and egg whites separated
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 225g Mascarpone Cheese
- Italian ladyfingers (sponge fingers)
- Cocoa powder for dusting (optional)
Note: Dry Marsala wine can be found at several Cold Storage supermarkets. You also can use liquor like rum
- Combine the coffee/espresso, half the Marsala, the vanilla extract and a quarter of the sugar in a small, wide bowl for you to dip the ladyfingers into later
- To prepare the filling, place the egg yolks, the remaining Marsala and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Be careful not to cook the yolks
- Beat the yolk mix with a whisk/electric whisk (at medium speed) for about 5 to 8 minutes until triple in volume
- Remove the bowl from the heat and beat in the Mascarpone cheese until combined
- Whip the egg whites in another bowl until they form stiff peaks
- Once the yolk-mascarpone mixture has cooled, gently fold in half the whipped egg whites, then fold in the remaining half until fully incorporated
- To assemble the tiramisu, you can use a tray or glass jars
- Dip the ladyfingers quickly into the coffee/espresso and line the tray/jars, add the tiramisu filling over the ladyfingers and spread evenly. Repeat the layers until you're satisfied
- You can dust cocoa powder over each layer
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight
- When ready to serve, dust the top layer with cocoa powder and enjoy!