Oooh… Jam! AKA The Post about Bespoke Home Cooking

F and R hosted a bunch of us to dinner cooked by his friend Jeremy Cheok. Back story is that a couple of weeks before that, they hosted a barbecue again done by Chef Jeremy for a much larger group. We loved the food and F said he’d have a smaller dinner for us to savour more of Chef Jeremy’s creations. First up was the mushroom cappuccino topped with milk foam. Chef Jeremy said that he tried to acheive a cze-char taste here. That explained the very slight wok-hei aroma and the unctuousness of the soup. I liked how the rich soup tasted mainly of mushroom, rather than butter like a lot of cream soups. And to quote F, the best part of having someone over to cook is that we could always go into the kitchen for more!

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The salad course was called Rojak Nowadays. I felt that it was a bit of a misnomer because I was expecting haekor (thick prawn paste), yew char kway (deep fried crullers) and crispy tau pok (beancurd puffs) in the salad. To its credit, the salad did have generous chunks of pineapple and cucumber and the salad dressing was scented by rojak’s characteristic ginger flower. Below the cover of pineapple and cucumber was mesclun salad with rocket (yummy!) and the dressing was a mixture of balsamic reduction, soy and fish sauce. I found the dressing a bit too salty for my taste. The others didn’t mind so much and walloped the lot.

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Chef Jeremy found some fresh crab and made them into crabcakes flavoured with daun kesom (laksa leaves). They were prettily topped with smoked ketchup and Japanese mayonnaise.

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They were moist and nicely crabby, though I couldn’t really taste the daun kesom (or was it kaffir lime leaves that he used?). DC liked the smoked ketchup, but I’m not a fan of the synthetic processed tomato taste. Overall, good crabcakes stuffed with plenty of fresh crab, though the herbs could have come out stronger.

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Then came the pork belly porchetta with luak chye. It had been cooked at 70°C in the sous vide machine for about 30 hours then seared on all sides for a crisp finish. I liked the finish and the accompanying apples. Unfortunately, here’s where the pork, while tender enough, had a slightly dry texture. This is very surprising for pork belly since it’s such a forgiving cut of meat with all the layers of fat to retain moisture. Perhaps roasting it the traditional way would help? I also found that the luak chye accompaniment wasn’t up to scratch: it was too salty and the fresh ginger strips were too jarring. It probably needed a longer soak in water and left to to meld with the ginger for a bit longer. Whatever the case, I’m probably a bit too critical here as the combination of pork and its fat is something that irresistable. After we polished off the first porchetta, Chef Jeremy came to the table quipping “What’s better than one porchetta? Two of them.” And we demolished it all…

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… to our regret. Because we hardly had room for the next course of seared ribeye with roasted potatoes and caramelised onion gravy.

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The meat was beautifully seared and nicely rare, blood-red as I like it. The roasted potatoes were lovingly prepared, with each new potato cut with precision so that the potato remained intact but the roasting fat manage to permeate the whole thing nicely. Check out the pretty fan it forms. Best potatoes I’ve had in a long, long time. R really loved the caramelised onion gravy. It was very beefy and meaty because of the addition of pan drippings from the beef, making it very hearty. I think Chef Jeremy used gula melaka to caramelise it and he also added anchovies for extra umami oomph.

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By now, we were so full we had to deploy our extra stomachs for dessert. Good thing we did because the shortbread with banana calypso was excellent! The butter fingers were wonderful short and crumbly. Here’s where the main part of the dessert really sang out and the pisang raja caramel sauce was simply icing on the cake. Excellent stuff.

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The tiramisu was something that everyone else was raving over. Chef Jeremy said he made it with cooked eggs. This made it extra blissful for V, who was pregnant. She thought she wouldn’t get to tiramisu for a good many months aheads. What I gather from Chef Jeremy’s detailed explanation was that he whipped the egg whites with sugar over hot water,  probably a sort of Italian meringue, whipped the yolks with sugar over hot water, then combined both with cream and mascarpone cheese. The mixture then went over sponge fingers wet with Vietnamese coffee. It was a credible rendition that’s definitely not out of place in a good restaurant. I probably got a corner piece that wasn’t quite as good, but I dare say my own version using raw eggs is better. DC (of course!) agrees.

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We had a great experience with Chef Jeremy. He’s got great ideas and I like how he’s not gone all weird fusion and molecular gastronomy even though he does use some of these techniques. Plus, it’s great value for money. (The damage? $90 per person for a party of eight.)

JAM
Chef Jeremy Cheok
Tel: +65 9818 1714
http://www.oooh-jam.com

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