For Bastille Day, Cook As The French Do With These Fantastique French Dishes
France’s national day, Bastille Day, on July 14 can be the perfect excuse to try your hand at cooking French. The idea may seem daunting at first but it can easily be done at home—just ask these two Filipino chefs who are bringing their love for la cuisine française to Filipino diners.
Chef Greg Guy, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, explains, “I’ve learned to love it because of how much respect they give not only to the ingredients but to every step of the process, from chopping up vegetables, even just for stock, up to plating.” And while French cuisine boasts advanced techniques that only professional chefs can do, it also offers many comfort food recipes that can easily be done at home.
Chef Jacq Tan of French restaurants Duck & Buvette and Apero advises patience above all else. She shares, “It’s worth the wait. Try not to skip a step. Procedures are there for a purpose. They help build the flavor of the dish.” With their words of advice, these chefs share their favorite French recipes for you to try at home and wow your friends and family alike.
Poached Fish with Beurre Blanc
This recipe by Chef Greg Guy is a great introduction to one of the foundations of French cooking—a good sauce. He explains, “Beurre blanc is one of the more popular French sauces and one that you can make at home. Its light and delicate flavor pairs wonderfully with poached fish without any one component overpowering another.” But he warns about the amount of butter used: “The recipe calls for a whole bar of butter because that’s what is needed to have a successful emulsification. Any less and the end result won’t come out rich and creamy.” If you prefer to pan-fry or grill the fish, he recommends a stronger sauce like hollandaise or béarnaise.
1/2 bay leaf
juice and peel of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt, to taste
4 fillets creamy dory or any firm fish like maya-maya, salmon, tilapia
1. Add all ingredients into the pot and fill with enough water so the fillets are fully submerged. Bring water to a light boil and turn the heat to low/medium low or until the water is lightly simmering or almost about to boil. Lightly salt the water.
2. Carefully add the fillets and let cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the fillet. Note that even with poaching, the fish can easily overcook. To check if done, poke fillet with a fork to see if the flesh starts to flake or separate. You can also poach the fish for 2 minutes, turn the heat off and leave for another 3 minutes.
3. Once cooked, use a spatula and carefully take the fillets out in 1 piece. Serve immediately with beurre blanc (recipe below).
BEURRE BLANC (white wine butter sauce):
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 200-gram bar butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, kept frozen or very cold
salt, to taste
1. Bring wine, vinegar and shallots to boil. Reduce until you have about 3 tablespoons of liquid left, then turn the heat to very low.
2. Carefully add cold butter 1 cube at a time. Whisk into the sauce until completely melted before adding the next cube. Slowly melting the butter emulsifies it into the sauce without separating. The slower you melt the butter, the better. Keep the heat low and the butter cold.
3. After whisking in 1/3 of the butter, start adding 2 to 3 cubes at a time. The sauce should look like thick yellow cream that gets even thicker with every addition of butter. After all the butter has melted into the sauce, add salt to taste.
4. Pass sauce through a strainer to remove shallots. Or you can serve the sauce as is. Keep warm over low indirect heat or in a bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water. This sauce should keep warm and cannot be reheated.
Chef Jacq Tan developed her love for French cuisine when she started working at Café Provencal. She shares, “It was actually making demi glace that made me want to learn more about the cuisine. How simple ingredients can be made into something that has deep and complex flavor.” She likens her recipe for this French classic to our local beef caldereta, which, she says, “Like adobo, every household will have their own version.” Her recipe for beef burgundy or boeuf bourguignon is a basic one, but she suggests adding more wine, shallots or vegetables, according to taste. She recommends sautéing the shallots and bacon separately to add more flavor to the dish. You can pair this dish with potatoes, rice, sourdough bread, or aglio olio pasta.
Serves 8 to 12
2 kilos beef short ribs, cut into cubes
water, enough to cover meat
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine, preferably French Burgundy
1 cup bacon or lardons, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup shallots, peeled
1 cup fresh shiitake mushroom, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1. Place beef in a large stockpot. Pour water and heat over high heat. Once it starts to boil, add tomato paste and red wine. Simmer for 3 hours or until tender.
2. In a saucepan, render the fat of the bacon, then set bacon aside. In the same pan, add butter and shallots and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms, then continue to sauté. Set aside.
3. Once beef is almost tender, add shallot-bacon-mushroom mixture to the pot. Deglaze the saucepan with beef stock, to get all the delicious brown bits at the bottom. Add to the pot of simmering beef. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add carrots and potatoes, and continue to simmer until tender.
A longer version of this article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 4, 2016
Photos by Paulo Valenzuela
Styling by Pixie Rodrigo Sevilla