Find out what these chefs are whipping up for their family dinner this Christmas – and no, they’re not all roast turkeys and hams.

One of the highlights of Christmas has to be the food and most cooks would have a special recipe, one that their friends and family look forward to savouring every December. This season, three of Singapore’s most popular names in the culinary scene share their personal recipes and tips on how to prepare their signature festive dish.

JUSTIN FOO

He may only be 29, but Justin Foo has been around the restaurant block for some time. By age 24 he was head chef of the Italian fine dining restaurant Senso before establishing his own restaurant Provisions. Justin has a strong following on social media, with over 58,000 followers on his Instagram account @justinfjh.

HIS HALLMARK RECIPE

Salmon Coulibiac, which is a Russian dish that was made popular in France by the French chef Auguste Escoffier. 

MEANING BEHIND IT

“I wanted to prepare a dish for my mother as a token of gratitude, but was finding it difficult to find a suitable French dish that would suit her Asian palate. 

One Christmas, I made this recipe for a family gathering and it was an instant hit with not just my mother, but the whole family. Even my grandmother enjoyed it.”

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THE RECIPE 

SERVES 4 | COOKS IN 1H 25M

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup of mixed grain or white rice

• 3 eggs

• 1 large yellow onion

• 120g or 8 fresh button mushrooms

• 2 tablespoons of butter

• 2 rolled puff pastry sheets

• 300-400g piece of salmon fillet

• 100g smoked salmon

• 5 sprigs of parsley, chopped

• salt and pepper

METHOD

1 Boil rice in salted water till cooked. Season with white pepper.

2 Boil eggs till hard boiled. Separate the whites and yolks and dice finely. Reserve in separate bowls.

3 Finely dice mushrooms and onions.

4 Sweat diced onions in 1 tablespoon of butter and add salt & pepper to taste. Reserve in a bowl. 

5 Saute diced mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add salt & pepper to taste. Reserve in a bowl.

6 Measure the puff pastry according to the salmon fillet’s size, ensure a 3cm margin all around.

7 Layer the ingredients in order, leaving a 2cm margin of puff pastry all around: rice, onions, mushrooms, salmon fillet, egg whites, egg yolks, chapped parsley, smoked salmon.

8 With a pastry brush, egg wash the margin of puff pastry lightly.

9 Wrap the ingredients with another sheet of puff pastry without stretching the sheet.

10 Trim off the excess pastry and reserve in the fridge for decorations.

11 With a fork dipped in egg wash, press down the sides to seal the pastry.

12 Bake in a pre-heated oven at 185 degrees celsius, for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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My go-to appliance

“I rely on ovens to cook, bake, braise and grill. I am also a sucker for all things retro, so Smeg’s Victoria combination oven is perfect for me. I’m not a fan of having too many kitchen appliances, so the fact that it has a built-in microwave function makes me happy.”

The Smeg Victoria oven will retail for $2,180 (U.P. $2,980) from Nov 15 to Jan 31, 2020. Available from Smeg Gallery, 9 Muthuraman Chetty Road, Ground level, and Harvey NormanParkway Parade.

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LENNARD YEONG

This self-taught chef picked up cooking from watching culinary videos on YouTube. “You can go into YouTube and search for any dish you want and you can learn it in a matter of minutes,” says Lennard. While the 31-year-old former engineer has always cooked as a hobby – he joined reality TV cooking series Masterchef Asia in 2015 and emerged a finalist – he only decided to switch careers last year. Lennard is presently the resident in-house chef at Miele.

HIS HALLMARK DISH

Chicken thigh roulade with winter vegetables in burnt caramel sauce.

MEANING BEHIND IT

“To me, Christmas is a time that I associate with winter vegetables, mainly root vegetables. The caramel sauce takes inspiration from Vietnamese pork dishes that have caramel as the base, but this version is a bit more western. The cinnamon adds a nice touch because the sauce is very sweet. The sweet vegetables and sauce contrasts the savoury chicken quite nicely. It is not unlike many other Christmas dishes, like eating turkey with jam.”

THE RECIPE 

SERVES 2 | COOKS IN 2H

INGREDIENTS

Chicken thigh roulade

• 2 chicken thighs

• salt and pepper

• 4-5 gingko nuts (optional)

Vegetables

• 20g sugar

• 40g pumpkin, diced

• 40g sweet potato, diced

• 50g chicken stock

• 1 pinch of cinnamon

• 20g butter

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METHOD

1 Season the meat side of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

2 Lay one chicken thigh on cling film, seasoned meat side facing up. Place other chicken thigh on top of it, seasoned meat side facing down. If using gingko nuts, sandwich them between the chicken meat.

3 Roll the chicken thighs into a cylindrical shape as tightly as possible.

4 Vacuum seal the chicken roulade and cook the thighs sous vide at 70 degrees celsius for 1.5 hours.

5 Remove the chicken roulade from the cling film and pat dry. Season with salt and let it sit for 15 minutes. Pat skin dry once more as salt will draw moisture from the skin. 

6 Sear the skin side in a hot non-stick skillet till brown and slightly crisp. Cut the roulade into slices.

Vegetables

1 In a small saucepan, heat the sugar on low-medium heat until the sugar starts to caramelise. Let it brown before immediately adding in the chicken stock and whisking vigorously.

2 Add in the diced vegetables, and allow the vegetables to cook in the sauce. If the sauce gets too thick, add water as needed. Add pinch of cinnamon.

3 Whisk in the cold butter and let it emulsify into the sauce. Season with salt as needed.

4 To plate, spoon the vegetables and sauce onto a plate. Place the sliced chicken roulade on top.

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My go-to appliance

“The Miele built-in steam oven that I used to cook the chicken roulade is probably my favourite appliance. The steam ovens can actually blend air and steam to create a steaming cavity to any temperature you want, accurate to a single digit, like 63 or 78 degrees celsius. I find myself steaming food more and more, as it is a gentle way of cooking that allows you to appreciate the flavour of the ingredients used.”

The Miele DG 7440 Built-in Steam Oven retails for $6,000 at The Miele Experience Centre, #B1-01 Winsland House II, 167 Penang Road. 

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IVAN YEO

He may have been a visual designer in his past life, but Ivan Yeo is perfectly at ease with his current role as chef. The founder and executive chef of The 1925 Brewing Co. (his family’s restaurant in Joo Chiat), Ivan has been reinventing his native Teochew cuisine along a firmly held philosophy that “food has to first feed the soul, then the senses”. 

HIS HALLMARK DISH

Dang gui chicken

MEANING BEHIND IT

“Coming from a typical Chinese family, my grandmother would cook many soups with medicinal herbs to supplement my diet as I was frail as a child. When I grew up, I decided to use Dang gui, which was one of my grandmother’s preferred herbs, as a way of remembering her by coming up with a simple yet enjoyable dish.”

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The recipe 

Serves 3-4 | cooks in 1h

Ingredients

Roast chicken

• 1 whole chicken

• Pinch of salt

• 15g Dang gui or angelica root

• 1 stalk coriander root

• 1 tablespoon light soy sauce

• 2 tablespoon sesame oil

Pumpkin Puree

• 150g Pumpkin

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 50g chicken stock

• 20g butter

Method

1 Taking the whole chicken, cut away the legs and the head from the base of the neck. Remove the wishbone.

2 Rub salt on the skin of the chicken to clean and exfoliate it before rinsing.

3 Use butcher’s string to tie and secure the chicken.

4 Stuff Dang gui, coriander root, a dash of light soy sauce and sesame oil into the chicken. 

5 Place the chicken on a tray lined with baking paper, and let the chicken sit until it becomes room temperature.

6 Roast the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, and then at 230 degrees celsius in the final 5 to 10 minutes to turn it nice and brown.

Pumpkin Puree

1 Remove pumpkin seeds and steam for 20 to 30 minutes.

2 Remove the skin and blend until a puree is formed.

3 Add a pinch of salt for taste. Add olive oil to smoothen the puree. For a finer puree, run the blended pumpkin through a sieve and mix till smooth before serving. 

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My go-to appliance

“The Bosch Series 8 Built-in Oven is integral to the making of this dish. The oven ensures even air circulation to produce an evenly roasted chicken. The temperatures indicated are highly precise, hence the chicken is always perfectly cooked and succulent.”

Bosch Series 8 Oven retails for $4,599 and is available at department stores.

Art direction KRISTY QUAH

Photography DARREN CHANG