Top chef brings Singapore spice to Perth

Chef Tony Khoo. Picture Andrew Ritchie d494457
Chef Tony Khoo. Picture Andrew Ritchie d494457

SINGAPOREAN chef and cookbook author Tony Khoo’s introduction to food came during his childhood from his godmother.

“She would bring me along with her to the wet market for weekend marketing,” Khoo said.

“I would learn a lot from these market visits, and would help her afterwards, pounding the fresh herbs and spices to make into a ‘rempah’ for cooking dishes.

“I think the secret to Singaporean food is its combination of fresh Asian herbs and spices that are used, and the unapologetic flavour punch that they add to Singaporean dishes.”

Based in Singapore, Khoo worked for nine and a half years as Pan Pacific Hotel’s executive chef before promoted two and a half years ago to corporate executive chef.

He is currently in Perth for a July-long residency with a Singaporean-themed buffet of classic and modern South-East Asian cuisine at Pan Pacific Perth’s Montereys Brasserie.

Crispy soft-shell chili crab and mandou. Picture Andrew Ritchie d494457

“I’ve shared my thoughts on Asian dishes to the local chefs here in Perth and showed them the authentic methods of cooking Asian dishes,” Khoo said.

“Singaporean cuisine has a combination of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan influences, with culture bringing their own unique cooking methods and local ingredients.

“It manages to bring these different cuisines together in a way that celebrates each ethnicity.”

Khoo’s signature dish is his Singapore chicken rice that combines fragrant rice with tender chicken and authentic condiments of chilli, ginger, and dark soya sauce.

He said the highlight of his residency has been the wonderful feedback from diners, who loved the traditional flavours of spices used in Singaporean cooking.

“And the heat from dishes like Singapore chilli crab, laksa noodles with rich coconut spiced broth and Hainanese chicken rice. Just like you’d find in Singapore.”

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Singapore laksa. Picture Andrew Ritchie d494457