Curiosity Got The Chef

IT ALL BEGINS WITH ONE DELICIOUS QUESTION.

Hosted by Chef Sharwin Tee, Curiosity Got The Chef airs on the Lifestyle Network (SkyCable Ch. 52)

Schedule:
PREMIERE
Wednesday 9:30PM
REPLAYS
Thursday 8:00AM
Saturday 6:00PM
Sunday 10:30AM
Monday 2:00PM

  • Bye Mom

    Bye Mom

    Bye Mom

                I’m often asked in interviews about when I started cooking.  Yes, my love of cooking and food started at age 6, but I started doing actual cooking at a much later time.  Like most young boys, I needed to fight through the distractions of computer game consoles, TV or sports and like most young boys, I needed to fight through insecurity and fear of failure.  At around age 14, I finally picked up a saute pan and cooked up some bacon-wrapped cheese.  After 8 years of hemming and hawing, I finally overcame the distractions and fears, with the helpful prodding of my mom.  

     

                Let me clarify something right now. My real mom, as talented and brilliant as she is, cannot cook, something she readily admits.  I’m talking about my other mom. My culinary mom.

     

                    Nora Villanueva Daza was trained by some of the best in France and she used that to the hilt.  Yes, she opened restaurants and only the best kind.  There’s the legendary Au Bon Vivant, of which some of the country’s greatest chefs swear to me had some of the best French cuisine at the time.  There’s the Maharlika restaurant in New York and of course, there’s her crown jewel, Aux Iles the Philippines.  Before the globalization of cuisine through Food Network and other food related networks, she trail blazed for Philippine cuisine in the toughest foodie place of all, France.  Imagine the supreme courage to serve Sinigang na Sugpo and Fresh Lumpia in Paris.  How about the Gateau Manille (Sansrival to us), which completely blew away the French?  She was so good, Paul Bocuse became her friend.  Yeah kids, THAT Paul Bocuse.

     

                Despite all that, her greatness lay not in these world class restaurants. Her greatness lay in how I skeptically placed sour cream to beef, onion and tomato mixture only to realize how tremendous my first attempt at Beef Stroganoff was.  It was in how I gained the courage to combine her meatloaf recipe with her embutido recipe to form a new dish.  It’s how to this day, in the 3rd season of my own cooking show, I unabashedly read through her cookbook for inspiration.

     

                What she was so good at doing, apart from cooking, was instilling in you knowledge, confidence and courage, all three of which you need to cook well.  In her cookbook, TV show, newspaper columns and even in her conversations, you are never made to feel inadequate; you are never incapable.  What you are left with is an overwhelming encouragement to try and an unwavering gumption to be unafraid to fail.  It’s why I wrapped bacon with cheese and fried it up when I was thirteen.  It’s why I was able to finish culinary school at 25.  It’s also why I joined a cooking competition at age 31 and hosted a cooking show at 32.  It’s why I had enough confidence to cook for foreign diplomats in Moscow at age 34.

     

                As Ms. Nora Daza makes her trip to heaven, I am filled with feelings of loss and sadness. I wanted her to have the first copy of the upcoming Curiosity Got the Chef cookbook and I wanted her to enjoy free dining on her every visit in my (hopefully) soon to open restaurant, The Quirky Bacon.  I wanted her to see how much she has meant to me and to whatever success I have achieved. 

                But maybe I had it all wrong.  Perhaps the best way to honor her and make her proud is not in these tangibles achievements.  Perhaps it will be in my continuing commitment to encourage people to explore cooking themselves.  Yes, it will be in my endeavor to fill people with the knowledge, the confidence and the courage to cook. 

     

                 Goodbye mom. Heaven will be delirious when they taste your Cocido.  I promise to make you proud. Everyday. 

  • Question

    Question

    Hi, Chef Sharwin! I'm currently watching your episode about cheese. I love cheese but don't know which will be good with which! For example, how did you know that Kesong Puti will go well with Smoked Bangus? =) Thaank you!

    I just keep trying! :-)

  • Picture

    Picture

    Try out my Filipino version of Lorraine Pascale’s Fudge Bars. This time, I used Filipino tablea tsokalate and roasted pili nuts! 

Chocolate Pili Fudge Bars (adapted from Lorraine Pascal of Baking Made Easy)

Ingredients (Serves 8)

70 g unsalted butter
120 g evaporated milk
300 g muscovado sugar
225 g marshmallows
70 g tablea
300 g milk chocolate
1/2 cup roasted pili nuts

Directions:

1.     In a pot over low heat, melt butter, muscovado and milk.  Add in marshmallows and boil for 5 minutes.
2.     Add in the chocolate, leave for 1 minute and stir.  Add in pili nuts.
3.     Pour the fudge in a greased baking pan. Set.  
4.     Cut into squares.

    Try out my Filipino version of Lorraine Pascale’s Fudge Bars. This time, I used Filipino tablea tsokalate and roasted pili nuts! 

    Chocolate Pili Fudge Bars (adapted from Lorraine Pascal of Baking Made Easy)

    Ingredients (Serves 8)

    70 g unsalted butter

    120 g evaporated milk

    300 g muscovado sugar

    225 g marshmallows

    70 g tablea

    300 g milk chocolate

    1/2 cup roasted pili nuts

    Directions:

    1.     In a pot over low heat, melt butter, muscovado and milk.  Add in marshmallows and boil for 5 minutes.

    2.     Add in the chocolate, leave for 1 minute and stir.  Add in pili nuts.

    3.     Pour the fudge in a greased baking pan. Set. 

    4.     Cut into squares.

  • Picture

    Picture

    Embutido Loaf

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

500 g ground pork
120 g chorizo bilbao, chopped
2 tbsps flour
¼ cup of pickle relish
2 eggs
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sage
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp Worcestershire (Lea and Perrins) sauce
8 strips of bacon
salt and pepper

Directions:

1.     Mix together first 10 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
2.     Line up the bacon on the loaf pan, with the sides overlapping the edges of the loaf pan.
3.     Add in the meat mixture.  Cover with the sides of the bacon.
4.     Bake the meatloaf in 180 degrees for 50 minutes.
5.     Turn up the oven to 220 degrees C and cook for 10 minutes.
6.     Let meatloaf rest a bit before slicing.

    Embutido Loaf

    Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

    500 g ground pork

    120 g chorizo bilbao, chopped

    2 tbsps flour

    ¼ cup of pickle relish

    2 eggs

    ¼ cup raisins

    1 tbsp oyster sauce

    1 tsp sage

    1 tsp marjoram

    1 tbsp Worcestershire (Lea and Perrins) sauce

    8 strips of bacon

    salt and pepper

    Directions:

    1.     Mix together first 10 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

    2.     Line up the bacon on the loaf pan, with the sides overlapping the edges of the loaf pan.

    3.     Add in the meat mixture.  Cover with the sides of the bacon.

    4.     Bake the meatloaf in 180 degrees for 50 minutes.

    5.     Turn up the oven to 220 degrees C and cook for 10 minutes.

    6.     Let meatloaf rest a bit before slicing.

  • Sharwin vs the Russian Big 3

    Sharwin vs the Russian Big 3

    Sharwin vs the Russian Big 3

         My first 7 days in Moscow would be busy ones as I, along with Moscow-based Filipino chef Ronnie Reduta, was tasked to cook a couple of Filipino buffets and then cook for the special Filipino a la carte menu in Cafe Swiss of Swissotel.  I’m proud to say that Ronnie and I developed a quick camaraderie and we were able to churn out food the country can be proud of.  Among the highlights were my Grilled Tuna with Green Mango Salsa, which one Russian VIP called, “The best fish she ever tasted,” and Chef Ronnie’s Sea Bass with Coconut Milk Sauce, which had one Russian VIP calling it, “Something I’ve never imagined.”  We were also honored to do a “Master Class,” demonstrating to the diplomatic corps in Moscow quick recipes like Rellenong Sugpo, Shrimp Inasal and Turon.

         Enough about our exploits, though. One of the perks of doing a food promotion in a hotel is they let you eat in their restaurants free, including room service.  While I always want to eat local food away from hotels, my difficulty with the language during my first night convinced me to temporarily relax my travel rules. Turns out, it was a pretty good decision, as I got to taste the “Big Three” of Russian cuisine.  Well, “Big Three” in my book at least. 

         Borsch was one of the things I promised myself I would have, come hell or high water, and I was lucky enough to actually witness the staff cooking it while I was cooking there.  The chefs there let me taste some.  I loved it so much I ordered it the next day through room service.  Borsch is a beef soup which has beets, carrots and potatoes and it’s served with sour cream.  I asked the chefs if they made it more upscale and “sosyal” (of course I didn’t use the word “sosyal”) and they shook their head. Nobody in their right mind messes with Borsch, so what I was having was as traditional as traditional gets.  The soup is hearty with some sour notes and by adding sour cream, there is a tremendous balance of richness and lightness.  Turns out, they cook the beets with a bit of vinegar before adding it to the soup and that accounts for the hint of sourness.  It was, in my mind, a tremendous example of comfort food, perfect for me as I ended a particularly long day in the kitchen.  Later on, I realized why it gave me comfort.  Take out the beets, and it’s your nilagang baka.

         The one national dish I had never heard of was Pelmeni, and I seized the chance to order it the following day.  Pelmeni is basically Russian ravioli usually served with a chicken broth with some dill, accompanied by sour cream.  I was told that sometimes, it’s served fried, but I was unlucky not to meet this incarnation.  The one I had was veal and lamb but the filling varies according to region and the chef.  It was quite a dish and I loved it! The broth was very subtly flavored and the pelmenis has a good filling to dough ratio.  The meat in the filling was very flavorful and juicy, almost like a Xiao Long Pao (soup dumpling).  Again, it brought this sense of hominess and it figures since this is one of those “Grandma” dishes, where most families’ grandmothers would have a personal recipe of.  I call it a Russian Molo Soup, which is very high praise for me, since I love Molo. A lot. Did I say a lot? A lot.

         Another of the “Big Three” I promised I would taste or die trying, was Beef Stroganoff.  After a quick check on whether it was truly Russian or not (you never know), I got a quick confirmation from Chef Ivan of Cafe Swiss on how to make it.  Nora Daza’s cook book has a pretty accurate recipe, it turns out.  Beef strips are seared and then topped with a sauce containing flour, onions, mushrooms and sour cream (sense a pattern?) and it’s served with potatoes.  When I asked if it were served with noodles, Ivan paused and paused and then proceeded to talk about how noodles “could be used,” but “We serve it with mashed potatoes.”  It was awesome.  Sirloin beef was seared well to medium and it was very tender.  The sauce was rich and creamy and the onions brought a nice sweetness that contrasted well to the sour cream.  Cafe Swiss used Chantrelle mushrooms, which may not be traditional, but I am not complaining.  

    (to be continued)

  • Picture

    Picture

    Seared Marlin with Kamias Salsa

 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

 

4 marlin fillets, about 100 – 120 g each

1 tbsps paprika

2 tsps of cayenne pepper

2 tsps cumin

4 pcs kamias, cut into small cubes

1 large tomato cut into cubes

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small bunch cilantro leaves, minced

1 calamansi

4 large flour tortillas

salt and pepper 

sugar to taste

4 tbsps olive oil

 

Directions:

 

In a bowl, mix together kamias, sugar, cilantro, shallot, garlic and tomatoes.  Season with calamansi juice and 2 tbsps of olive oil.  Chill.
Meanwhile, heat up a saute pan with the remaining oil.  Season marlin with paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper.
Sear the marlin on one side for about 2 minutes. Turn them over and finish cooking for 1 minute more.
Toast the tortillas in the oven until warm.
Serve the fish with the salsa on top and tortillas on the side.

    Seared Marlin with Kamias Salsa

     

    Ingredients (Serves 4)

     

    4 marlin fillets, about 100 – 120 g each

    1 tbsps paprika

    2 tsps of cayenne pepper

    2 tsps cumin

    4 pcs kamias, cut into small cubes

    1 large tomato cut into cubes

    1 shallot, minced

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1 small bunch cilantro leaves, minced

    1 calamansi

    4 large flour tortillas

    salt and pepper

    sugar to taste

    4 tbsps olive oil

     

    Directions:

     

    1. In a bowl, mix together kamias, sugar, cilantro, shallot, garlic and tomatoes.  Season with calamansi juice and 2 tbsps of olive oil.  Chill.
    2. Meanwhile, heat up a saute pan with the remaining oil.  Season marlin with paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper.
    3. Sear the marlin on one side for about 2 minutes. Turn them over and finish cooking for 1 minute more.
    4. Toast the tortillas in the oven until warm.
    5. Serve the fish with the salsa on top and tortillas on the side.

  • Sharwin vs Non Russian Food

    Sharwin vs Non Russian Food

    Sharwin vs Non Russian Food

    The invitation came as a surprise to me, especially since the event was barely 3 weeks away. The Cultural Diplomacy Office of the DFA, which i have been working with, and the Embassy of the Philippines to the Russian Federation, asked me to cook Filipino food in Moscow. The aim was to not only showcase our cuisine but also help facilitate Russian wholesaler’s interest in importing our foods. What self-respecting chef says no to that? 

    image

     First was a 9 hour flight to Dubai and a 4 hour layover. I had been to Dubai a year earlier, but I never got to go around the airport. This time, I had 4 hours and I was determined to go around after a quick visit to my next boarding gate. Right in front of my boarding gate? Shake Shack. (Cue heavenly music) Lo and behold, one of the few remaining American franchises I haven’t eaten at was in front of my eyes! It was my density…er…destiny to taste. With two Filipinas working the counter, it was quite easy to surmise the burger was much better than the hotdog, which was my original choice. Upon their suggestion, I tried the single burger.

    image

    It was awesome. Burger patty was made from fresh, non-frozen beef and it wasn’t overseasoned. Tomatoes and lettuce were fresh and brioche-like bun was deliciously buttery. My short description would be a more upscale In and Out burger but i think it’s inaccurate. This may actually be better. (Don’t hate me. Please?)

    Off to Moscow for me and I arrived near midnight. The following day, I was off to prep for our Filipino buffet for 50, including the diplomatic community there. Laurent, the hotel’s F & B guy, assured me i could eat at the hotel free, but i wanted to try things outside for dinner. Little did I know that was tougher than I thought. If you read my Japan adventures about struggling with English, it was way worse here. Very few people spoke English and Russian was nowhere close to any of the languages I could speak. It took me all of 15 minutes to buy a tube of toothpaste from the drug store! Near the store, though, i could smell some awesomeness.

    image

    Turns out, the Metro station was near and I found several shops selling food and drink. Relentless pointing and money showing got me a pretty good haul; an interesing drink, a shawarma and fried bread. The drink was pretty good. It was a lemon-lime soda, almost like Mountain Dew but with mint! It was less sweet too and that combination was welcome on a surprisingly hot day in Moscow. Seeing the shawarma stand, I knew i could get away with pointing and saying, “Shawarma! One!” I did. The shawarma guy, insisting I was from the Maldives, filled up a large but thin pita with chicken, cabbage, onions and tomatoes, and then drizzled a green colored garlic sauce plus a red sauce that was nowhere near hot. The shawarma was darn good! Well seasoned and meaty. It just lacked spice for me. My other purchase, still unidentified to this day, was a fried doughnut like bread with potatoes inside. A carb bomb if you ever saw one, but, you know, fried bread. Mmmm.

    (To be continued)

  • Question

    Question

    Hi Chef! Really really love your show! This might sound a little too random but I definitely love all your cute and colorful kitchenwares :) Ha ha. Anyway, I love love love mushrooms! So do you have any easy mushroom recipe for me? Thank you :-) PS please check my newbie food blog myinnerjuliachild here in tumblr. Thank you :-)

    Hi! I love mushrooms too so I do have recipes here that use mushrooms. Just browse through the photos and recipes to check. :-)

  • Question

    Question

    When will you be coming out with a cookbook, featuring all the recipes from your Curiosity Got the Chef show? It's more convenient for home cooks like me to flip the pages of a cookbook rather than browse recipes on the net. Thanks and more power!

    We’re working on it! If all goes well, I might have an early Chrsitmas present for you guys. ;-)

  • Question

    Question

    Hi Chef, about the Shrimp Avocado Muffin, what fruit can i replace the avocado, because its not season this days... Thank you Chef...

    You can change it with mango although it’ll be a totally different texture. or you can just omit it. :-)