Events Food Vegetarian

Cooking with Gourmet Greens + FIJI Water

IMG_8845A friend once told me that if you start drinking mineral water or any other brands of high-quality water and replacing them with your normal tap water, you will start to see a change in your skin and over well-being. At one point, I was really tempted to do an experiment on this and see if drinking high-quality water can make a positive difference to my health.

Although I have not started my experiment proper, I have already tested out some brands of mineral water to see which ones tasted better. So far, I really like the pure taste of natural artesian, FIJI water. It has almost a neutral taste and I enjoy the clear crisp taste in the water.

I was more motivated to try out this water experiment after attending a cooking class by award-winning Chef Jo Ann Ng from Vanilla Bar & Cafe at ToTT. She is an advocate of using FIJI water in her contemporary Japanese dishes. During this culinary workshop on ‘Cooking with Gourmet Greens’, she taught us how to cook 2 vegetarian dishes using FIJI water which really helps to retain the pure taste of the vegetables and other ingredients used in the dish.

The two vegetable-centric dishes are Sautéed Miso Pasta with Brussel Sprouts and Zucchini Ribbons and the Sambal Tofu, Portobello Mushroom and Aubergine Lasagna.

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The best part of the workshop is that all ingredients and tools are provided and you can have a hands-on experience of cooking too. If you need assistance, the chef and staff are all there to help you out.

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The peaceful stillness before the cooking frenzy began.

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For the Asian-inspired Vegetarian Lasagna, we are using mushroom and tofu in placed of minced meat. As for the sauce, the chef taught us how to blend our own vegetarian sambal using chillies and a few other spices.

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The minced Tau Kwa (or firm tofu) might not taste like the actual meat but it has the same texture as minced meat and it is used as the main filling for the lasagna. I like that Chef actually uses vegetarian sambal (chilli paste) instead of the usual tomato sauce which gives this dish a little spicy kick.

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The star ingredient of any lasagna is probably the cheese toppings which gives lasagna that moist and cheesy taste. But I would definitely go easy on the cheese as too much of it isn’t very healthy either.

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Layer by layer, Chef assembled all the ingredients and the whole tray gets popped into the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

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I didn’t know that you can cook in a pair so I was there cooking these 2 dishes by myself but thank goodness, I was able to remember the steps and did everything on my own. It is definitely manageable if you have experiences in cooking.

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Here’s my lasagna’s filling – almost ready! I guess the only tedious part is making the vegetarian sambal which requires it to be stir-fried.

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The first dish – done! Look at the golden brown crust! The dish was tasty but if there’s one thing I would improve on its the lasagne pasta sheets which I feel it needs to be cooked longer so that it is softer.

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Chef also demonstrated to us on how we can garnish the lasagna with some Japanese Mayo and chopped spring onions.

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This looks pretty decent and can be served at dinner parties!

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The second dish is Creamy Miso Pasta which is vegan-friendly and dairy-free. The chef actually uses raw cashews, lime juice, garlic,  and miso to create that creamy vegan cheese sauce. We also add some FIJI water to make the pasta sauce. I really like the creamy sauce which is not too overpowering or too milky in taste.

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The chef first showed us how we can pan fry the Brussels sprouts with just some natural sea salt flakes and black pepper.

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After we blend the miso pasta sauce, we pour the sauce into the pan together with the cooked pasta.

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It’s a lovely vegan-friendly dish that tasted somewhat like Carbonara but less milky. It would have been even nicer though if we add in some mushrooms or truffles.

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It would be really cool to see if the use of FIJI water or normal tap water would affect the taste of the dish cooked. Would the quality or taste be different? This  pristine waters are from the waters of Viti Levu (Fiji Islands) and clear rainfall that filters through volcanic rocks. Though it would be even more awesome to drink fresh water from the source itself, at least we can have a taste of fresh water packaging in an iconic square bottle with a blue cap and a new label.

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‘Cooking with Gourmet Greens’ will be held on Saturday, 1 October 2016 from 3pm to 6pm at Tools of the Trade (ToTT). Priced at $58 per person, registration is now open and can be made online here.

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