“We first compress and then dehydrate the watermelon in a process that produces a red colour and texture that is very close to that of raw tuna.”
What is “lo hei” without the prospect of fish i n the catch?
After the National Environment Agency banned the sale of raw fish dishes prepared with freshwater fish in November, chefs across Singapore got busy. They knew that diners were spooked by reports of serious bacterial infections from consuming raw freshwater fish and may likely err on the safe side and avoid all kinds of raw fish. Soon after, Goodwood Park Hotel became the first hotel in Singapore to exclude all raw fish from its Chinese New Year menu.
“Although the hotel’s yusheng is not made from freshwater fish, we decided to refrain from selling raw fish in the interest of consumer health,” said the hotel’s spokesperson.
The hotel, known f or its innovative and refreshing takes on traditional dishes each time the festive season rolls around, has delivered impressively on this challenge. Its Chinese restaurants, Min Jiang and Min Jiang at OneNorth, have come up with three new lo hei dishes this year that are free of raw fish: Crispy Salmon Skin Lo Hei, Fruity Lo Hei With Bacon And White Truffle Oil, and Crispy Silver Bait Fish With Mock Tuna Lo Hei.
Of the three, the most innovative has to be the silver bait dish concocted by master chef Chan Hwan Kee of Min Jiang. The mock tuna is not made of gluten but from slices of watermelon. “We first compress and then dehydrate the watermelon in a process that produces a red colour and texture that i s very close to that of raw tuna,” Chan explains. “Then, we create more texture i n the dish using deep-fried whitebait, fried yam and sweet potato strips, salad l eaves, j ulienned carrot and radish, flying fish roe, wasabi ebiko (prawn roe), jellyfish, French chives, Buddha’s hand citron and pomelo before dressing everything up in our secret sweet sauce and lime juice for a sweet, tangy and refreshing feel in the mouth.”
The other creation by Chan, the Crispy Salmon Skin Lo Hei, is like a salad topped with deep fried salmon skin.
“The salmon skin, which i s specially imported from Norway, is first marinated and then deepfried. This yusheng dish i s also different because we have used less vegetable strips in the dish in favour of more salad greens, such as wild arugula, endive l eaves, baby radish and sweet romaine hearts. The idea is to create a healthy and natural dish. For the sauce, we have refrained from using the traditional plum sauce. Instead, we use a sauce from the reduction of apple juice to add interest to the dish. Orange peel, crackers, crushed peanut, sesame and pine seeds all create greater texture.”
Chan feels that doing away with raw fish is a good move. “While perhaps it does not matter to you, your guests may still have reservations [about consuming
Compressed watermelon slices are used instead of raw fish in Min Jiang’s lo hei dish. (Photo: 叶振忠 )
Li Bai’s lobster Loh Hei Platter features slices of blanched Boston lobster atop an exuberant mix of ingredients such as yam, sweet potato, white radish, carrot, pickled ginger and pomelo.