Tea suits chef Nik to a T

In his latest cooking show on Asian Food Channel, Tea Twist, Malaysian chef Nik Michael Imran transforms the humble tea beverage into a tea mocktail called Mo-Tea-To, as well as a dish called Tea Crusted Prawns with Avocado Mango Salsa.

The 23-year-old, who was one of the 24 finalists in the first season of MasterChef Malaysia, tells My Paper how he uses tea to cook.

Why do you use tea and not coffee?

I was given the challenge by Lipton and realised it was something that had never been done before.

After giving it a few tries, it became clear that tea has a lot more potential than I originally thought!

The more I played, the more I learnt, and I created some very delicious tea recipes, all with a unique twist.

Are you a tea or coffee drinker?

Being a chef, I need the caffeine buzz to get me through the day. Tea is my go-to drink at the end of my shift to just lie back and chill out.

What are some of your favourite types of tea?

I love to drink green tea because it has a lot of great health benefits.

However, that said, when I am looking for something more exciting, I really enjoy drinking one of the drinks that I'd created in the Asian Food Channel original production, Tea Twist, using Lipton tea.

Much has been said about pairing wine with food. But how does one pair tea?

Anything can be done. Imagine munching on a juicy burger with a tea mojito, or smoked duck with tea and bruised chilli.

Of course, you can't neglect your classic tea and scones.

Here in Malaysia, we grew up on sugar biscuits and tea. It really brings back fond childhood memories for me.

What are some of the unique dishes or drinks you've created with tea?

It would be Pear Poached in Tea and Tea Crusted Prawns with Avocado Mango Salsa.

You were one of the 24 finalists in the first season of MasterChef Malaysia in 2011. What did you take away from that experience?

The biggest thing that MasterChef Malaysia taught me was working under pressure. It is not very often that you're forced to make an amazing dish with limited resources and time.

What are some unique teas that you've tried?

Once on my travels, I tried a tea which had whole leaves in a teabag and they were rolled up into little balls. Once steeped in hot water, they unrolled themselves.

Tea Twist airs on Asian Food Channel (StarHub Ch 435) every Friday at 9.30pm

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