Unearthing Torch Ginger

Having experienced about a decade of the culinary world at several world-class hotels and restaurants in exotic destinations like Dubai and Lebanon, Fairmont Hotel’s Executive Sous Chef Edi Pancamala has brought his expertise back home.

Having experienced about a decade of the culinary world at several world-class hotels and restaurants in exotic destinations like Dubai and Lebanon, Fairmont Hotel’s Executive Sous Chef Edi Pancamala has brought his expertise back home.

RETURNING TO the land of spice and herbs, Chef Edi Pancamala is inspired to incorporate the incredible array of authentic and fresh selections of spices available in the archipelago in his cooking.

He shared with me one particular ingredient that had his creative juices flowing immediately, Torch Ginger Flower or locally known as Kecombrang.

This pink, long-stemmed, spear-like bud of the ginger flower resembles a torch and carries an aromatic flavor that is often used as a spice or herb in many Asian countries, especially Indonesia. It is also known to be rich in antioxidants, with health benefits, including for relieving indigestion, and having antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

“The torch ginger carries a similar aroma to an ordinary ginger, however when consumed, it is not as spicy,” said Chef Edi. “This spice is a winner for its strong and specific scent! It has the power to mask and eliminate any fishy, fatty or unpleasant odor while adding incredible aroma to the dish.”

When the bud is thinly sliced or shredded, it becomes a spice in many salads, sauces, and dips. In Indonesia the torch ginger is often found in certain types of dishes such as Balinese fish curry, grilled fish with dabu-dabu dressing, rujak salad, sweet and sour fish and certain chili pastes. Due to its citrusy notes and hint of pepper, the torch ginger is most commonly used in seafood dishes.

Catering to both foreign and local palates does have its challenges, however I was inspired to see Chef Edi’s ability to expertly and effortlessly merge the realms of Western and Indonesian cuisines clearly on a plate.

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“I understand that most locals are familiar with spicy food and the traditional styles of classic local dishes, such as sop buntut, Indonesian fried rice and more; so we cannot improvise too much on the basics or we loose its original essence.”

“However, we offer a variety of Western infused dishes in our menu to serve the more foreign tongue,” the chef explains. “Customers are also asked on their preferred spice level to ensure all palates are happy.”

 

Adding to the a remarkable dining experience, Chef Edi believes in a ‘hassle free’ eating, where most of his dishes are stripped off their bones and does not require ‘much’ effort in devouring them. It will surely save us foodies a lot of time slicing off a piece of meat from a T-bone or de-shelling a juicy piece of lobster!

“Since I spent most of my time abroad, I never came across such an ingredient before. I was introduced to it when I started working here and I thought, wow! we can surely create a lot of great things with this!” shared the chef enthusiastically.

A few of his experiments using the torch ginger started off with extracting the juice then using it to cure a fatty fish like lumberjack or salmon, another one was using it to replace of basil or any other herbs in certain dishes such as ceviche.

“If you get the right products and cook them with passion, the food speaks for itself”, said Chef Edi passionately. Undoubtedly, I concur to his philosophy from witnessing it clearly on the plate served in front of me.

Mesmerized by Chef Edi’s innovative modern dishes, we decided that it would only be fair to share with you some of his amazing recipes, using the winning ingredient: torch ginger.

Atlantic Salmon Cured Torch Ginger | Avocado, Local Citrus, Coastal Plants
Serves:1

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INGREDIENTS:

150 g                 Atlantic Salmon
30 g                   Caster Sugar
15 g                   Sea Salt
60 g                   Torch Ginger
220 g                 Lime
120 g                 Avocado
60 ml                 Grape seeds oil
30 g                   Blimbing Buluh (Local Citrus)
5 g                     Sea Hair

STEPS

  • Clean the salmon and remove the skin, set aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine salt, sugar, lime zest, lime-juice and torch ginger.
  • Coat the salmon with the mixture and cure it for about one hour.
  • Toss avocado with lime-juice, sugar and salt to season.
  • Blend the avocado while adding the grape seeds oil until the texture becomes smooth and silky.
  • Clean the salmon from the mixture and set aside.
  • To serve, slice the cured salmon in sashimi style, arrange it on a plate as desired then garnish it with slices of belimbing buluh and sea hair.

Heirloom Tomato Torch Ginger | Onion, Sea Grapes, Cucumber, Kefir lime Dressing
Serves:1

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INGREDIENTS:

180 g                 Heirloom Tomato
60 g                   Torch Ginger
15 g                   Red Onion
15 pcs                Sea Grapes
30 pcs                Japanese Cucumbers
5 g                     Kefir Lime Dressing
10 ml                 Verjus
30 ml                 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 g                     Fluer de Sel

STEPS

  • Clean the tomato in cold running water and cut it into chuncky pieces
  • Pick the inner part of the torch ginger
  • Slice red onions thinly
  • Rinse the cucumber, remove the seeds and slice it into chunky pieces.

Dressing

  • Blend the kefir lime with oil until it is well incorporated the strain it with a fine strainer.
  • In a mixing bowl, add oil and verjus together then season it with salt.
  • To serve, combine all the vegetables in a mixing bowl and then toss it with vinegar. Place it in a salad bowl and garnish it with sea grapes.

Chowder Infused Torch Ginger | Lombok Line Caught Fishes, Garlic Crouton
Serves:1

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INGREDIENTS:

1 kg                   Mix Local Fish
100 g                 Red Onion
100 g                 Torch Ginger
50 g                   Tomatoes
50 g                   Fennel
100 g                 Leek
50 g                   Celery
30 g                   Garlic
120 g                 Orange
120 ml               Olive Oil
1 pcs                  Star Anise
1 stick                Cinnamon
50 g                   Red Pepper puree
3                        Bay Leaves
5 g                     Black Pepper Corn
1 loaf                 French Baguette

STEPS

  • Clean and fillet the fish, then keep aside. Keep the bone to make the stock.
  • Clean the vegetable and chop them up into chunky pieces.
  • On a nonstick pan, caramelize the fish bone then add the vegetables to do the same.
  • Cover the mixture with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Then add the spices, red pepper puree and simmer it for 45minutes.
  • Sliced the bread two fingers thick in an angle, toss the bread with olive oil and crushed garlic then season it with salt. Finally, roast it in the oven at 140°C for 15 minutes. Set aside
  • After 45 minutes, strain the stock, season to taste before serving.
  • Sear the entire fish fillet then place it in to a soup bowl. Pour the stock in and garnish with torch ginger and serve with garlic crouton on the side.

BBQ Beef Short Ribs | Torch Ginger Relish, Lemon Grass Creamed Corn, Chard Spring onion
Serves:1

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INGREDIENTS:

200 g                 Boneless beef                               short ribs
60 g                   Shallots
30 g                   Garlic
15 g                   Coriander seeds
30 g                   Lemongrass
5 g                     Kefir Lime                                    Leaves
5 g                     Turmeric Powder
1 pcs                  Star Anise
½ stick               Cinnamon
60 ml                 Sweet Soya Sauce
30 g                   Green Tomato
10 g                   Red Chili
15 g                   Red Onion
20 g                   Torch Ginger
120 g                 Lime
15 ml                 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 g                   Coriander Leaves
60 g                   Sweet Corn
100 ml               Cooking Cream
30 g                   Spring Onion

STEPS

  • To marinate the meat: blend half shallots, garlic, coriander seeds, and turmeric powder to make a paste. Add the rub to the short ribs then season it with salt and pepper. Marinate overnight for better flavor.
  • After marination, braise the short ribs with enough water then add lemongrass, kefir lime leaves, star anise and cinnamon stick. Cook it slow for about 3 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the stock and rest it.
  • Reduce the stock all the way down, and then add sweet soya sauce. Set aside the mixture to glaze the meat before barbecuing it.
  • Prepare the salsa by dicing the green tomatoes, shallots, red onions, red chilis, and torch ginger. Then pour all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, toss in the olive oil, add lime juice and zest and finish with chopped coriander and salt and pepper to taste
  • Put sweet corn in a small cooking pot, then add cream and lemon grass. Cook it until the corn is soft, cream is reduced and coats the corn. Set aside.
  • Before service, grill the short ribs on a charcoal BBQ, galling it with the soya glaze. Place the sweet corn underneath the barbequed short ribs, and top it with salsa. Garnish it with grilled spring onions.

Written by Divya Pridhnani Photographs by Dennie Ramon August 26, 2016.

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