With his off-the-wall flavour pairings and leftfield aromas, Berlin’s star chef and Escentric Molecules’ favourite, Tim Raue was never gonna cook Christmas the way your granny does it.
• December is not my favourite time of year. I hate the cold weather and heavy food over-flavoured with deep, dark notes. We aim to teleport you away from the season with flavours and aromas that are light and bright.
• You don’t come to me for a traditional German Christmas dinner. That would be oven-roasted duck served with braised red cabbage and potato dumplings. I’d do it differently. Instead of braising the cabbage I’d serve it raw, shaved fine as a salad, with a purple curry powder dressing. Instead of potato dumplings, I’d do apple dumpling cooked in lime juice and lemongrass. As for the duck, it would be lightly cooked then flamed to give it a touch of winter heat. I’d serve it tataki style – sliced like sashimi.
• Forget Christmas pudding. We don’t serve puddings at Tim Raue, we never use wheat flour and we avoid white sugar. We prefer light, refreshing desserts so you feel energised after you’ve eaten. For Christmas dessert I might focus on tangerines, a traditional fruit at this time of year. I would poach them in green matcha tea, and serve with green matcha sherbet and a ginger meringue, with a little kinome (a citrus-peppery Japanese herb).
• Sometimes we throw out the wine and pair food with a different drink. Take the drink we served with the suckling pig at the Escentric Molecules 10th birthday party. If we had added that hickory smoke and ‘Almdudler’ herbal lemonade to some winery guy’s finest white Bordeaux he would have gone crazy. For him it would be like taking a Picasso and saying ‘I don’t like that blue in the back I’m going to make it a bit darker’. So we used coxorange apple juice as a base. With juices you are free to add aromas and flavours and mix it up.
• The French food I was raised on as a young chef can be blah. Everything changed for me when I went to Singapore in 2003. I dived into a long exploration of Asian flavours. I found I loved Thai and Cantonese – in China, Cantonese food is by far the most elegant – and the Japanese attitude of being absolutely focused on quality of ingredients. I mixed it up with my roots in French cooking and that’s how I came to be a white boy with a bastard Asian kitchen.
• We want to waken all the senses, not just your palate. Take the mandarin orange placed on each plate at the Escentric dinner. You could drink in that pure colour with your eyes, hold it in your hand, smell it. We sprayed each one with mandarin oil to super-charge its aroma. We also added a tiny amount of an Escentric Molecules fragrance. The whole experience should be fun as well as multi-sensory. I hate that over-formal fine dining thing. Eating out should be relaxed, with a bit of humour thrown in.
Below, one of Tim’s recipes for you to try:
Peel the langoustines and remove the pipe running along the back. Pat the langoustines into cornstarch to coat. Leave aside for 6 hours, then deep fry in oil for 90 seconds.
2g coriander powder (make this by drying fresh coriander in a microwave then crushing to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar)
2 tbs grated wasabi
1 tsp green tabasco sauce
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate.
100ml apple juice
4g freshly grated wasabi 10g sugar
5g gelatin powder
Mix apple juice with the freshly grated wasabi and the sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to boil and remove from the heat. Add the gelatin powder. Pour the mixture into a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment and whisk it until it is thick and glossy. Scrape the marshmallow mixture into a rectangular pan and let it cool down. Afterwards cut out maple shaped marshmallows.
Thai Vinaigrette and Mango Aspic
40 g mango cubes
40 g raw carrot cubes
2 tbs finely chopped coriander stalks 2 tbs fish sauce, “Prik Nam Pla”
80 ml chicken stock
20 ml rice vinegar
40 ml lime juice
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate. Mango aspic:
40 ml mango puree
1 pinch modified food starch
Mix both ingredients, pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate.
Arrange the dish as in the picture above.