Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Putien Summer menu...light, cooling, tasty

On Monday, I outlined how Pu Tien make their, I feature the summer menu...inspired by holidays and harvest.

I covered in Monday's post a brief visit I made to the Putien Central Kitchen, courtesy of their management. We proceeded to a tasting of the Summer 2012 menu (now available at Putien restaurants) at their main Kitchener Road outlet.

We began as we had left off...braised tofu

The same tofu as we left off on Monday...but now braised in a braising liquid. Taste? Sublime. The light fragrance of the soy beans still permeates, but now infused with a heavy-ish stock of the braising liquid. Comfort food.

Next appetizer was an amazing winter melon in orange juice...presented like so

Served chilled, this was very refreshing. Winter melon is revered for its cooling properties, here it is cooked, and soaked in orange juice. The melon remained firm to the bite, a bit crunchy, and the orange juice lifting the mild taste with aciditity...a tinge of sourness with sweet.

A cooling soup is a pre-requisite for a summer Chef Larry presented the bitter gourd soup

Bitter gourd...also treasured for its cooling properties, is pureed and cooked in a thick chicken stock. Floating within are morsels of prawn, scallop and crabmeat. Interesting taste as the slight bitterness of the bitter gourd gives way to a light, bittersweet finish, and coupled with the fresh seafood is quite uplifting.

Chicken is next...

Dubbed Ah Yuan Fragrant Herbal Chicken...this is a country interpretation of chicken...similar to the one we get in our local chicken rice. The chicken here, though is slow cooked in a soup made of a variety of herbs. I found the chicken a bit firm to the bite, and the herbs to be light...still distinguishable and not over-powering.

We were next presented with this colourful dish...of prawns in salad

Summer fruits, including melon, lychee are tossed in with a light salad dressing to succullent, lightly fried prawns. The fruits provide sweetness, and the prawns counterpoint which is salty and a faint aroma of being freshly fried. Nice.

Then the heavy stuff...pork ribs...

Beautiful presentation, each spare rib is braised, and paired with Chinese yam...known locally as wai san - which tasted more like a mild tasting potato rather than yam...but I guess all are tubers of some sort. The ribs were cooked till tender...succulent, and maintains a nice texture.

The starch dish also provided some preparation by a chef on his workstation:

Putien's famous fried beehoon with a twist. Cooked with soya bean milk instead of water...and note the bee hoon is thin, wiry, handmade variety, and cooked directly into the hot soy milk without first being soaked in water. This gives the beehoon a light, airy texture that I so love. And infused with soy milk...nice.

Garnished with eggs infused with soy, peanuts, sea weed...this is a must have dish in Putien.

And a surprise...a lai thong of sorts...a cabbage soup in soya milk

Turned out to be the highlight of this tasting. The cabbage is wonderfully tender...not mushy, still retaining its structure, but very tender and tasty. The soup is made from soya milk and I guess meat or chicken stock. Very nice, nourishing soup.

For desserts, lychee mango pudding

Almost ubiquitious...but with a Putien twist, served with lychee and promagranade instead of the customary candied cherry.

Another magnificent menu. I am quite impressed with the ingenuinity that went to the menu preparation...hats off to Chef Larry Li Gongba. I am also impressed with the use of purist ingredients...almost all from Putian itself. And the quality of the cooking.

This is an invited review. Many thanks to Ann Chan at Linea Communications and Ringo Chew of Pu Tien.

Putien Restaurant
127 Kitchener Road

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