DUBAI’S CULINARY MECCA
Found. Atlast. Is it tangy? Is it sweet? Is it a salad? Is it a complete meal? Is it squishy? Is it crunchy? Here it is, the authentic recipe of my most favorite refreshing sweet, tangy, juicy, crispy, healthy, refreshing “Rojak”. I taste it in the most unique of circumstance and venues. I marvel at how the world is shrinking into an amazing and delicious small space. So,I bring for you, this recipe of the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean “Rojak”. It is made by a brilliant German chef. And it is on one of my trips to Dubai that I come across this refreshing delight. To make the global gourmetization even more exciting, I taste this dish in a legendary Thai hotel in Dubai, which turns out to be a culinary mecca.
CULINARY JOYRIDES AROUND THE WORLD
“Culinary joyrides around the world” those are the brilliant Chef Joachim Textor’s words. This is the joyride that he takes me through his amazing cooking. He has travelled and lived in the remote corners of the world. From along the Great Wall of China to Irkutsk (the Paris of the East in the 19th century) to the Omul salmon recipe from the largest fresh water lake in the world: From the southernmost tip of South America, steamed Alaskan crab to Traditional Tasmanian recipes…………he has them all. Chef Textor having completed his culinary education and masters in Germany has worked in 11countries and has to his credit the opening of four hotels and dozens of restaurants. His passions are cooking and travel and exploring new culinary horizons. In pursuit of this he has been to 486 cities and 90 countries from the North to South pole, As we sit and chat, in the stunning and picturesque Anantara, I am more and more delighted. Set amidst lush landscaping, with the private beach just behind us, beachfront lagoon pools around us, it is difficult to believe I am in Dubai.
I don’t have the time to dine in all six of the restaurants and bars of Anantara, the culinary mecca, but the specialty Asian, Mediterranean flavors and the Middle Eastern cuisine, the Thai cuisine seduce my tastebuds and my eyes.
Named after the Arabic word for ‘water’, the Mai Bar (which I love) has a terrace shaded by palm trees and a swim-up bar in the pool. There are Australian-inspired flame grilled delights too but I don’t have the time to try these.
It is in the terrace of the Beachhouse with it’s fabulous views of the Dubai shoreline that I enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, including pizzas, tapas and seafood. It is here that I taste the Rojak along with the charming and well informed Hayley Burgess.
I first tasted the Rojak on the street side in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was a delightful mix of bean curd, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Then in Singapore I tasted their version of Rojak with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. I was told that in Penang, where it is a local favourite, it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called Rojak.
Ofcourse, there are all different kinds of fruits and fritters which are added and mixed into this. From raw mango to green apple to pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, Chinese-style fritters). And many more. But here is Chef Textor’s amazing recipe, which is a must try…
1 medium cucumber
2 small young green mangoes, peeled
1/2 medium pineapple, skinned
50 g Papaya
20 gr carrot julienne
45 gr pear
40 g bean sprouts
35 fried tofu
1 large yam bean (sengkuang/jicama), peeled
1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp lemon juice
20 gr dried shrimps
30g roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
35 g fried Chinese bread stick, thin sliced
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
For the rojak sauce
15 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded
2.5 cl Tamarind sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) tamarind juice
20 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dark soya sauce
1. Pound the chillies in mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Put that paste and tamarind juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and dark soya sauce and cook until the sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Set aside and let cool.
2. Cut the vegetables and fruits into small wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the rojak sauce and mix well.
3. To serve, garnish the top of the rojak with dried shrimps, chopped peanuts,and all remaining ingredients and sesame seeds.
Chef Textor explains that “Rojak” actually translates to mixing and mingling and denotes multi-ethnicity. Through this conversation, I urge the brilliant, well traveled chef to compile all these recipes into a book.
I request him to distil all the excitement of discovery and travel in his first of its kind cookbook. It will be so exciting, so useful and usable and divided cuisine wise as well as through ingredients and courses… and should he have the time and the inclination to put together this global cookbook what would he like to call it? “Culinary joyride around the world with Joachim Textor” ofcourse!