‘Tis the season for good meals

This Christmas, serve an eclectic mix of cuisines to please jaded palates

Issue: Dec 2009

Serve up a festive-looking bouillabaisse for a Christmas meal with a differenc
Serve up a festive-looking bouillabaisse for a Christmas meal with a difference

Tired of turkey and potatoes? A bowl of gazpacho, a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, would be welcomed on a warm December day. If your guests on Christmas Day are multicultural, serving cold cuts with achar (a spicy Peranakan vegetable pickle) or belachan (a Malay-Indonesian sauce made of shrimp paste and chilli) would give the Yuletide standards an Asian twist.

But if you want to impress your Christmas guests with a home-cooked gourmet meal, you can get some help from a top chef at Palate Sensations, a cooking school based in Singapore.

Of Indonesian-German descent, Chef Alicia Tivey has lived in Asia almost all her life.

Hailing from Bandung, Indonesia, Tivey has experienced warm weather Christmases almost all her life so she is the right person to ask about tropical Christmas treats. She said of her childhood in Indonesia: “My mother used to cook up a picnic feast for friends and family and we would spend the day at the beach. She would even bring along a small refrigerator!”

Tivey, who once worked as sous chef at Tetsuya’s (a top restaurant in Sydney) recommends serving bouillabaisse for Christmas. This seafood stew, which originates from France, is colourful, tasty and brings a festive flavour to the table. Chilli, lime and coriander are added to suit the Asian palate.

Asian flavoured bouillabaisse with lime and coriander

  • Serves 10 guests
  • Ingredients
  • 500g fresh fish
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 150g oysters, clams, or mussels
  • 1 50g shrimp, crab, or lobster meat, or rock lobster tails
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced OR the white parts of 2 or 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2-inch slice of fennel or 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • A bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • Zest of a whole lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • Sliced French loaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or to taste


  1. Of Indonesian-German descent, Chef Alicia Tivey has lived in Asia almost all her life.
    Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and shallots (or leeks). Sauté for a minute, then add crushed garlic and sweet red pepper (optional). Add tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir the vegetables. Then add coriander, bay leaf, cloves and the lime zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden but not brown.
  2. Cut fish fillets into cubes or bite-sized pieces. Add the pieces of fish and fish stock to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add oysters, clams or mussels, and shrimp, crabmeat or lobster tails, cut into pieces or left whole. You may omit some of shell fish
  3. Add saffron, salt, pepper. Add clam juice, lemon juice, and white wine. Bring to a simmer again and cook for about 5 minutes more.
  4. At serving time taste and correct the seasoning of the broth, adding a little more salt or pepper if need be, and maybe a touch of lemon juice. Into each soup bowl place a thick slice of crusty French loaf, plain or slightly toasted. Spoon the bouillabaisse over the bread. Serve with rouille sauce that complements seafood dishes (see recipe below).

Rouille sauce

4 cloves of garlic
1 egg yolk
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) olive oil
150 ml (10 tablespoons) sunflower oil
150 ml (10 tablespoons) lemon juice
A pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper


Chef Tivey’s curry eggplant parcel with chilli tomato sauce
  1. 1. Combine the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the garlic in a food processor; add the egg yolk, lemon juice and saffron; blend.
  3. With the processor running, gradually pour in the olive and sunflower oils to achieve a mayonnaise-like consistency.


Would you like to whip a curry eggplant parcel with chilli tomato sauce or serve up foccaccia with scordillia (mixture of beetroot, mashed potato and garlic)? How about concocting a heavenly dessert of pineapple tatin with fresh cream? Contact Chef Tivey for these recipes at www.palatesensations.com or email cooking@palatesensations.com.

Photo credit: All photographs by Vivienne Khoo

Write comment
Name (required)
E-mail (required, but will not display)
Irrelevant or inappropriate comments might be edited or removed.
By subscribing, you consent to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal data in this form by CapitaLand Ltd, its related corporations (collectively ‘CL’) and its authorised service providers for the purposes of sending you the Inside e-newsletter, related updates and other e-mail updates which may be related to your subscription with us.

Please input the anti-spam code that you can read in the image.

Follow us on:

  • twitter
  • instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • google+
  • pinterest
  • flipboard