It has to be a simple matter of affinity. How else do do you explain it when the Chinese rarely fall for a cuisine that isn’t built into their cultural DNA? Brandon Foo defies reasoning with his zeal for classic French dishes. Don’t even talk to him about a fusion of French and Chinese food. He’s a purist who believes in the five tenets of French cooking – butter, garlic, shallots, onions and parsley. This coincides with what Le Bistrot du Sommelier is about. The menu is seasonal, but if you call Foo three days in advance, he’ll be able to whip up something extraordinary. We did, asking him to surprise us, and what emerged was an oven-roasted jambonette of French quail with garlic, onions and potatoes au gratin. The smell was so divine that it took a while before we could bring ouselves to dig in. And when we did, it was all gone too soon.
Photo credit: Andy Wong of Rave Photography
Roasted ‘Jambonette’ of French Quail with Garlic Cloves and Onion served with Potatoes au Gratin (Courtesy of Brandon Foo)
4 pcs. of semi deboned French quail
200g of garlic cloves (skin-on)
250g peeled onion
3 sprigs of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
2 pcs. of bayleaf
300g unsalted butter cube
Sea salt and crushed black pepper
1. Cut the wings off both sides. Remove the thighbones and reserve them. Make an insertion at centre of the breast and tuck the leg into the insertion. The quail will look like a ‘jambon’ shape.
2. Cut the onion into an onion ‘petal’ and clean the excess skin from the garlic.
3. Season the quail’s jambonette with crushed black pepper and sea salt. In the meantime, heat a thick bottom saucepan or cast iron pot (cocotte).
4. Add in half the butter in the heated pot and carefully brown it. Add in the quail and sear both sides to golden brown, then toss in remaining butter, onion ‘petals’, garlic cloves and herbs. Season again with salt and pepper, and cook the ingredients for 10 mins.
5. Put the lid over and place the pot in an oven at 200 degrees celsius for 20 minutes, basting with its juices every 5 mins. When cooked, plate and serve over hot potatoes au gratin.
Make the Potatoes au Gratin
3 pcs. of medium sized potatoes (Russet potoes or Yukon potatoes preferred)
150ml whole milk
2 cloves of peeled garlic, finely chopped
4g thyme leaves
2 pinches of nutmeg powder
Sea salt and white pepper powder
1. Peel potatoes, submerge in water and set aside. Put cream, milk, chopped garlic, thyme leaves, nutmeg and seasoning into a saucepot and bring to a boil.
2. In the meantime, slice the potatoes 0.3cm thick using a mandoline. Add the potatoes into the boiling mixture.
3. Bring everything to boil and put the pot in the preheated oven at 190 degrees celsius for 12 minutes.
Visit Le Bistrot du Sommelier at 53 Armenian Street, tel. 6333 1982