A Singapore chef and his team who challenged Iron Chef Thailand's Chinese cuisine chef to a cooking face-off in Bangkok have won.
Chef Tan Yong Hua of month-old Chinese Restaurant Home at Upper Bukit Timah's Rail Mall, together with his two assistants - Chee Kwai Yian, The American Club's dim sum chef; and Chai Ngen Kin, executive chef of Fung Ding Hung Restaurant at Rendezvous Gallery - wowed judges with their flavours and stellar presentation. All the chefs are in their early 40s.
They beat Thailand's Chinese cuisine Iron Chef Peter Lai, who is also the director of kitchens at Centara Hotel & Convention Centre Udon Thani.
The Singapore team had been invited to take part in the competition, in which challengers pick an Iron Chef to compete against. Chef Tan, 40, says: "It was very rushed, but I am very proud of what we achieved in that short time."
The Iron Chef Thailand TV programme is a franchise of Iron Chef Japan. The Thai franchise comprises two components: A review of the chef's cooking technique, aptitude and signature creation through a 45-minute challenge that involves preparing a dish with a secret ingredient; followed by a one-hour battle against the Iron Chef, in which contenders must prepare a four-course menu for six judges with a different secret ingredient.
Giant river prawns, weighing about 500 to 600g each, were unveiled as the secret ingredient for the battle against the Iron Chef, while chicken breast was the unknown ingredient for the aptitude test. Both components of the TV show were filmed on different days. The battle was filmed on the first day and the aptitude test on the second. The episode is likely to air next month on Thailand's BBTV channel.
Chef Tan says that he and his team were taken aback when the secret ingredient for the battle was revealed.
He adds: "We were very shocked, because in Singapore, these giant prawns are quite hard to find and very expensive. The ones that were revealed were of good quality too."
They had a plan for how to cook smaller prawns, but not giant ones with firmer texture such as these, and had to tweak cooking times and recipes accordingly. They also had to adjust their cooking techniques as the gas stove provided did not have the usually large, wok-frying flame they were used to.