Despite being recently-minted as the head chef of garden-themed restaurant Botanico at The Garage, Sujatha Asokan, also known as Su, has already built a following with modern European dishes that are heavily inspired by her Indian-Chinese heritage.
We got her to come up with a recipe for a doomsday scenario — what she might cook if stuck in a bunker or shelter with nothing but nonperishable foods.
Inspired by a red bass, couscous, and fennel dish on the Botanico’s menu, Asokan has come up with a bunker dish worth of royalty — a luxurious, umami explosion of canned abalone, scallop broth couscous, smoked canned vegetables, and assam reduction. She explains, “I think most Chinese families would have at least a can of abalone, or dried scallops sitting in their storeroom for a special occasion. Since it’s the end of the world, you might as well be eating all the expensive stuff first.”
Abalone, couscous, smoked green peas and carrots, and assam sauce
Serves: 4 | Level: intermediate
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins, 2 hours for prep
For Smoked Green Peas and Carrots:
- 80g canned greens peas with carrots
- Wood chips, preferably oak
Lay a sheet of aluminium foil at the base of a deep metal container or bowl, and place 2 tbsp of wood chips.
Season the green peas and carrots, and place them in a perforated metal container.
Burn the wood chips in the metal bowl, either with a blowtorch or some matches. Once it gets smoky, place the smaller container (with peas and carrots) inside and cover with aluminium foil.
Smoke for 20 min, and then burn the wood chips again. Repeat the process one more time.
Note: do this in a ventilated area.
For Dried Scallop Broth:
- 500g water
- 20pcs small dried scallops (conpoy)
- Salt, to taste
Bring 500g of water to boil.
Add in dried scallop and simmer at low heat for one hour.
Salt to taste, and set aside for four hours to infuse.
- 180g dry couscous
- 150g sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
Put couscous in a heatproof bowl. Bring 160g of dried scallop broth to boil and pour over the couscous.
Cling-wrap the bowl and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir to mix well.
Sauté smoked green peas and carrots, sundried tomatoes and add the couscous.
Note: If the pan gets too dry, add more scallop broth.
For Assam Reduction:
- 300g assam
- 500g water
- 80g brown sugar
- A pinch of salt, to taste
Mash assam with a spoon, adding 500g of boiling water to make assam water. Strain.
Pour the assam water into the pan and add brown sugar and salt.
Reduce the mixture to half.
- 2pcs canned abalone, thinly sliced
- 2tbsp furikake
Smear the assam reduction with a spoon across the plate.
Put 2-3 tbsp of couscous onto the plate.
Neatly lay the sliced abalone on the couscous.
Scatter furikake over the dish.