Festive Favourites Flavoured with Creativity

Traditional Christmas cuisine gets a makeover

Issue: Dec 2010

Turkey “La Peranakan”
At Fairmont Singapore’s Café Noel, the traditional turkey is infused with the best of Straits cuisine resulting in Turkey “La Peranakan
Photo credit: Fairmont Singapore

In the kitchen of Café Noel, festive occasions are probably the most challenging of culinary seasons. But the difficulty is not in the long hours or the hectic schedules.

“The festive season always brings out the best in the chef's creativity. It is a time of the year when we are faced with the challenge of not only coming up with innovative festive menus, but also the season where we push our imagination to create novel and appealing Yuletide delicacies that cater to all the evolving palates of our guests and diners,” Marketing Communications Executive, Joycelyn Ho.

And there are perhaps few other holidays that can rival Christmas in this aspect because when it comes to food traditions, Christmas comes with a whole hamper full. The ones that most Asians are used to, of course, hail from America. So, turkey with chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce, honey-baked ham and an assortment of sweets like fruitcake, log cakes and Christmas cookies are often the mainstay at Christmas meals. However, to be able to offer a holiday menu that embodies the essence of this type of Christmas while still managing to surprise is a delicate balance and a prized find.

Traditional Turkey with a Twist

This year, Fairmont Singapore’s Café Noel has succeeded, once more, to turn the usual festive fare on its head without thumping well-loved traditions in the nose. It is offering a variety of festive fowls done Asian style for that Christmas meal at home.

Goose of the Orient
For a smaller gathering, the Goose of the Orient is a perfect main to usher in the Christmas spirit
Photo credit: Fairmont Singapore

Introducing, for the first time, the yuletide turkey with a nonya twist. Turkey “La Peranakan” features a whole boneless turkey with chestnut stuffing that comes mixed with an aromatic pork stuffing infused with buah keluak. This black nut from Indonesia is the star of that famed Peranakan dish, the ayam buah keluak (chicken buah keluak stew) and a quintessential Peranakan ingredient. The use of kaffir lime, a fruit native to many parts of Southeast Asia, enhances the Asian flavour of this Christmas staple.

A returning favourite is the Goose of the Orient. The boneless bird is baked in the oven very slowly and instead of the oft-used chestnut stuffing, a Chinese influenced one that uses glutinous rice and conpoy is favoured. For a touch of pure indulgence, truffles, dried dates and figs in a black truffle reduction are also included in the stuffing. For those who are hungry for a hint of Indian cuisine in the year-end meal, there’s the oven-baked tandoori turkey breast available for takeaway.

For a truly Chinese taste, Café Noel has a selection of dim sum for take-out that stars the turkey. Turkey replaces pork in the xiaolong bao, char siew bao, siew mai and the filling in the chee cheong fun. Those who deem the larger bird too tough will be surprised at how tender the turkey can be when treated thus.

Dim Sum
Turkey dim sum is proof that the Chinese can adapt just about anything to suit Chinese tastes
Photo credit: Fairmont Singapore

Christmas Chinese Style

If going Chinese is what you crave this year, the Szechuan Court at Fairmont Singapore has a Christmas menu that is designed to thrill. Chef Sebastian Goh’s Yuletide-inspired Oriental dishes combines the very best of East and West.

Instead of serving the traditional turkey whole, it is presented in a rich broth flavoured with dried scallop that is at once hearty, yet light and refreshing. Foie gras is given a Szechuan treatment in keeping with the restaurant’s signature style and served with a mild spicy peanut sauce that is flavourful without masking the delicate taste of the pan-seared goose liver. Wagyu beef, favoured for its tenderness and juicy taste, is paired with golden mushrooms and a luxurious garlic brown sauce and truffle butter.

Inagiku’s meal
The finest nine-course kaiseki set at Inagiku this Christmas includes a sashimi selection of Tuna belly, great yellowtail flounder and Hokkaido sweet prawn
Photo credit: Fairmont Singapore

Fairmont Singapore’s premium Japanese restaurant, Inagiku, is going all-out this Christmas to wow. The humble chawanmushi egg custard is studded with foie gras that heightens the dining experience. A hint of Christmas is found in the grilled teppanyaki that pairs the great yellowtail with ham and grilled vegetables. Chestnuts that are usually the co-stars to the turkey are given a sweet turn and offered as a dessert in the form of a chestnut cake.

Many of the traditional Christmas dishes are rich in meaning and symbolism. To be able to capture the history of the occasion while embracing the spirit of culinary adventure is a feat worth applauding. And the cultural crossroad that is Singapore is perhaps the best place for such fusion of cuisine.

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