Fruit Fixes: Chef Edi Pancamala

Incorporating fruit into a savory dish is not a weird thing for Fairmont Execuitve Chef Edi Pancamala. As the saying goes, Edi has been there, done that, and got the fruit.

Edi believes that everything is about pairing. Fruit, just like any other ingredient, when it is done right, can be a great pair to beef, fish, and basically everything.

Although there is a certain rule to incorporating fruit into savory dishes, Edi said that this rule mostly could only be applied to “Western” fruit and not Indonesian’s indigenous fruit such as durian or salak. Thus, it is important to know the basic characteristics of the fruit and the ingredients that will be used.

Edi gained his expertise in the kitchen by accident. He initially wanted to join the army.

“Everyone I know was so worried that I would get depressed after I failed to join the army. They advised my parents to direct me to consider hospitality studies with goal to work on cruise. I had no choice because if I wanted to retake the military entrance exam, I needed to wait a year. ”

After the training, Edi slowly worked his way up in the kitchen. He even managed to open his own restaurant. His biggest gig was when he worked together with Gordon Ramsay in the now-defunct The Verre in Dubai.

“If you see Gordon in the shows, that’s exactly how he works,” said Edi. “I experienced a time where he threw out a dish because it didn’t taste right to him. But he is the master of classics and I certainly learned a lot from him.”

Edi voted durian as his favorite fruit but he said he still had not found the right formula and courage to use it in a dish. For him, durian is too strong in terms of flavor and smell. He opts to use milder tasting fruit in his dishes such as mango and avocado. Combining Italian flair with local ingredients, Edi created two main dishes that highlighted mango as the main character and avocado as the sidekick.

The first dish was a mango and crab ravioli which looked very pretty and smelled very nice. The sweetness and savoriness of crab went well with the acidity of mango. Edi prefers to use mango that is only three-quarters ripe. He avoids using ripe or sweet mango as it does not give the crab the balance it deserves.

At first sight, it is easy to mistaken this dish for a dessert. The inspiration came from his childhood where he lived by the beach. He mixed blue shell crab with spicy mayonaise wrapped with ravioli. He added ikura, tomato gazpacho and avocado sauce to create a festive flavor.

The second dish was beef carpaccio combined with mango salsa. The tenderloin beef was marinated overnight and sliced thinly. The beef paired with mango salsa made from black olives, scallops, chili, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. The final touch was adding truffle mayonnaise. The dish not only satisfies carnivore but also those who don’t identify themselves as beef people.

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Written by Tatu Hutami Photographs by Dennie Ramon July 1, 2017.