MELANGE: Food Spot Metroplus

A fishy repast

'Explore treasures of the sea’ at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Le Belvedere.

'Explore treasures of the sea’ at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Le Belvedere.  

Some days ago, I met a venerable professor — a reader of this column — who tut-tutted about five-star hotel food. I am not much of a hotel goer myself, but once in a while I willingly give in to fine dining — and I must confess that I enjoy these occasional meals cooked with the best of ingredients in the most innovative of ways by the most creative of chefs. And I am happy with the different kinds of streams that add to our cauldron — from street food and ghar ka khana to finger-licking fare offered by middle-of the-road eateries and high-end meals conjured up by Michelin-starred chefs.

All this is just to tell you that I had quite a memorable meal at Le Meridien one evening earlier this week. I had been invited to partake of a food promotion called ‘Explore treasures of the sea’ at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Le Belvedere. The restaurant name suggests European cuisine, but the food is Oriental.

The restaurant is like a huge hall, surrounded by glass which gives you a delightful bird’s-eye view of a glittering Delhi at night. We crossed the restaurant to enter the well illuminated and very cosy bar (where we had some delicious prawns – much to the dismay of a young crustacean-loving co-food writer who is now sadly allergic to shellfish). And then, once the appetite had been whetted, we returned to the restaurant for a fishy repast, prepared by Chef Balkishan Chouhan.

We had a whole red snapper in Sichuan pepper sauce, scallops in oyster sauce and pomfret in soya chilli sauce, and finished with a delicious and sinful toffee banana with vanilla ice cream. I loved the jelly-like scallops, which had nicely soaked in the flavours of the oyster sauce. The whole red snapper looked a bit grumpy to be brought to the table in that manner, but the fish was delectable, as was the sauce. To my mind, the steamed pomfret – though fresh and sweet – needed a stronger infusion of the sauce.

But the chef does know his stuff. He was among those who started Larry’s Kitchen, a restaurant where we had some excellent Chinese meals many, many years ago. The prawns at the bar were crunchy and sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed the crisp lotus stems (thankfully without the mandatory honey) that he served us.

He has very kindly shared his recipe of scallops with us. For this, wash 400 gms king scallops and marinate them in a mixing bowl with salt, white pepper, 1 egg and corn flour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat oil in a wok and add the marinated scallops and cook till golden brown in colour or tender. Keep aside. Heat oil in a wok. Sauté chopped ginger, garlic and black bean (2 tsp each). Add diced bell pepper (red, green and yellow, 4 tbsp together), onion, and spring onion (2 tbsp each). Toss well. Add 1tsp chilly paste, 1tbsp dark soy sauce, some fish stock, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the scallop, and some slurry (corn starch and water) if needed. Add 2 tsp Chinese cooking wine and 2 tsp sesame oil. Remove and serve hot.

This, indeed, is a treasure of the sea.

Rahul Verma is a seasoned street food connoisseur

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:34:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/food-spot-column-fine-dining/article6621709.ece

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