Cooking up a Storm – Award winning recipe

Craig Wong, son of Lipton and Shirley Wong, is a recent graduate of the renowned Institut Paul Bocuse culinary school in Lyon, France, where he has studied for the past two years. Craig has completed internships at 3 Michelin Star restaurants: Plaza Athénée  Alain Ducasse, Paris, and The Fat Duck, London.

In June 2005, Craig entered and won the Sardine Cooking Competition, which is restricted to French professional chefs and students. The organizer, Sonia Ezgulian, renowned French chef and author of Les Halles de Lyon, chose Sardines as the main ingredient because of her passion for this cold-water fish.

To qualify, recipes featuring Sardines as the main ingredient were submitted and reviewed by a panel of professional culinary judges. Six student and six professional chef recipes were chosen for the finals.

The contest was held at Les Trois Dames Restaurant, in the Sofitel Bellecour Hotel, Lyon, where the contestants prepared their recipes before the judges and a live audience.

In their commentary on the winning entry, the judges expressed amazement by Craig’s unique balance of texture and taste. The clear bouillon, subtle flavor of the soft interior and crisply braised exterior of the Daikon, pairs immaculately with the crispiness and natural fattiness of the fish. The judges felt Craig’s recipe and cooking skills truly enhanced the definitive taste of the Sardine.

Upon completing his internship in England, Craig will return for Christmas with his family in Markham, Ontario.

His award-winning Sardine recipe follows:


Sardines à la meunière, with Caramelized Braised Daikon Radish, Sage-Scented Vegetable Bouillon, Tomato Concasse, and a Brunoise of Lime

Serves 4

8 Whole Fresh Sardines
1 Medium Daikon Radish
1 Medium Carrot
1 Large Onion
1 Rib Celery
½ Bunch Sage
3 Branches Parsley
1 Medium Roma Tomato
1   Lime
2 Tablespoons Demerara sugar/raw sugar or regular granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
300 ml Frying oil (optional)
2 Tablespoons Toasted Pine Nuts
    Salt & Pepper

Procedure:

  • Debone all the Sardines into filets.
  • Cut the Daikon into rounds like a hockey puck

Vegetable stock for Braised Daikon:

  • Dice carrot, onion, celery and add to 1L of water, along with parsley and sage.
  • Bring to a boil, then add Daikon, remove when tender & dry on absorbent paper.
  • Add salt & pepper to bouillon to taste.

Tomato Concasse

  • In a separate pot, bring water to a rolling boil and add tomato for 20 seconds.
  • Remove & place in iced water to shock tomato. Peel skin & halve the tomato, discard seeds & any liquid. Brunois tomato flesh, i.e., uniformly cut into fine, 1.5 cm. long, diamond shapes.
  • Segment the lime from the rind and the skin, and brunois lime same size as tomato.
  • (OPTIONAL) Deep fry the sage leaves in a small pot in 325-degree oil
  • (OPTIONAL) Toast Pine Nuts in a dry frying pan on low heat
  • Put sugar and a little butter in a frying pan, and gently caramelize tender Daikon, until outside is crispy.
  • Pan fry the Sardine filets in olive oil at medium high heat for 5 seconds and immediately add cold cubed butter and bathe (spooning the foaming butter over filet) the filets constantly for 30 seconds and remove from pan to a plate with absorbent paper.
  • Salt and Pepper filets to taste.

Plating:

  • Place Daikon on the bottom of the plate, sardines on it, deep fried sage on top, tomato, pine nuts, and lime around, Bouillon in a cup on side.