It's been two years since he won Celebrity Masterchef Malaysia but Datuk Fazley Yaakob is hotter than ever. The singer-turned-chef, whose Masterchef victory have inspired him to train with Le Cordon Bleu in Paris last year, is now the owner of the recently opened French-themed bistro, SukaSucre.
With an enigmatic tagline – “From Rembau to Paris” – and an interesting repertoire of dishes that merits its own subgenre (think ratatouille pasta and pasta daging salai lemak cili padi), SukaSucre offers an interesting mash-up of flavours borrowed from Fazley’s hometown in Seremban and the French capital.
As unconventional as they sound, the dishes at SukaSucre are mostly built upon a tapestry of traditional recipes that have been in his family for generations (“My grandmother is the real Masterchef,” quips Fazley). They are also staples in the Yaakob household each Ramadan season.
Fazley, who was more than happy to share three of his favourite recipes with us, explains the raison d’etre behind his creations. Ratatouille, for instance, has “been around forever although it’s never gained traction among Malaysians”.
The chef, who wanted his fellow countrymen to savour something other than chap chai or acar buah, says he added pasta to the classical French stew to make it more accessible.
As for ayam pop or “pop chicken”, Fazley says the deep-fried chicken – a typical Minangkabau dish – is usually eaten with soy sauce. A handful of pasta and a pool of green sambal later and the chef has made the dish his very own.
And since it’s almost durian season, what better way to end a meal than with some durians? But instead of having pengat durian or durian dodol like the locals in Seremban do, Fazley came up with something different – durian brioche.
“I love durian and I love bread so I thought why not combine both?”
But as the chef has demonstrated, every weird mongrel idea can lead to more flavour or more fun – if you just go ahead and experiment.
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 red bell pepper
2 red tomatoes
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp virgin olive oil
6 fresh sweet basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Dice all the vegetables evenly and place them in separate bowls. Boil the spaghetti with a pinch of salt until al dente. Toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
In a deep pan, melt butter along with olive oil on low heat. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt, stirring until the onion has slightly softened. Add garlic, and after a few minutes, add the eggplant, stirring occasionally until softened.
Add the rest of the diced vegetables, sweet basil and season accordingly. Cook until the vegetables are soft and turn off heat. Add the cooked spaghetti and toss well. Serve immediately.
PASTA AYAM POP SALAI SAMBAL HIJAU
1/2 chicken, cut into two
1/2 cup olive oil
2 coconuts, water only
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemongrass, crushed
2 pandan leaves, knotted
10 green chillies
5 green cili padi
2 onions, sliced
8 garlic cloves, sliced
2 green tomatoes, sliced
2 green eggplants, sliced
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
For the ayam pop
In a saute pan or wok, cook the chicken with the olive oil, coconut water, garlic, lemongrass, pandan leaves and a bit of salt until meat is tender. Remove from heat and drain chicken.
Heat enough oil for pan-frying and pan-fry the cooked chicken until browned. Remove from heat, drain on paper towels until cool and debone.
For the sambal
Toss the green chillies and cili padi in boiling water for 30 seconds and slice them. Combine with the onion, garlic, tomato and eggplant and pound the mixture with a mortar and pestle to a rough consistency – you can also do this in a blender.
Heat the olive oil and add the pounded ingredients. Over low to medium heat, saute until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Squeeze in the lemon and season to taste with sugar and salt.
Boil the spaghetti with a pinch of salt until al dente. Drain and fry briskly with the sambal over high heat for 30 seconds. Dish out onto serving plates. Slice the ayam pop and add to the pasta on the plate. Garnish as you like (with basil leaves, prawn floss, serunding, etc).
900g bread flour
90g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
50g fresh durian flesh
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
For the dough
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and milk, and stir well. Set aside in a warm place until liquid is bubbly.
In a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar and salt on low speed using a paddle attachment. Lightly hand-whisk the eggs and yeast mixture together and pour into the mixer. Increase to medium speed and mix until slightly clumpy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and swap the paddle attachment for a hook attachment. Mix on medium to low speed until dough is formed. Gradually add the butter until combined. Once the dough is elastic looking, take it out and place on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Continue to knead with your hands.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball by tucking the sides inwards. Place dough in a large bowl, smooth side up, and cover it tightly with cling film.
Set aside at room temperature for the dough to rise, about 90 minutes.
Butter or line a loaf tin. Remove dough to a lightly floured worktop, and knead it briefly. Roll it out into a 1cm-thick rectangle. Spread the durian flesh on the dough. Roll it up Swissroll style, from the long side. Cut into 3cm-thick buns. Pack the buns, spiral side up, into the loaf tin. Cover with cling film or cloth. Leave it to raise at room temperature for another hour, until doubled in volume.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Once the dough is ready, lightly brush with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 170°C and bake for another 30 minutes. Leave the brioche in the mould for a few minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely.