Economic fine dining
Marco Avitabile has worked at top kitchens in France, England, Switzerland, Italy and Germany in his 24-year career. Since 1995, the Italian chef, who was born in Germany, has been employed by Hyatt, starting at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, where he was chef de cuisine at Grissini restaurant. He moved on to the Grand Hyatt in Singapore, where he opened Mezza 9 then to the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok. He returned to Hong Kong recently to take up the top position of executive chef. At his home in Wan Chai, he cooks a simple chicken dish which needs marinading the evening before serving.
Steamed chicken with ginger and chicken soup with shimeji mushrooms
1 whole chicken, about 1.5 kilograms
200 grams of fresh ginger
200 grams of shimeji mushrooms (also called oyster mushrooms)
150 grams of spring onions
200 grams of lemon grass
100 grams of fresh coriander
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli
40ml of rice wine
30ml of light soy sauce
1 tsp of sesame oil
Step 1: The evening before cooking the dish, clean and wash the chicken. Mix the rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. Gently loosen the skin from the meat at the breast and rub the rice wine mixture into the flesh. Roughly chop 150 grams of ginger, 100 grams of spring onions, 150 grams of lemon grass and 80 grams of fresh coriander. Mix this with the garlic and stuff into the cavity of the chicken. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2: The next day, in the bottom part of a two-tiered metal steamer, bring two litres of water to the boil. Put the chicken in the top part of the steamer and cook for 40 minutes.
Step 3: Remove chicken from steamer. Carve the chicken from the bones, keeping the bones and the stuffing. Place the meat on a serving dish and keep warm.
Step 4: Chop up the chicken bones and place in the water used for steaming. Add the stuffing. Bring the water to the boil and cook for 10 minutes to make the soup. Clean the mushrooms and divide between four bowls. Slice the chilli and remaining spring onions, ginger and lemon grass; divide these ingredients between the bowls along with the remaining fresh coriander. Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt or soy sauce, if preferred, strain through sieve, then pour into bowls. Serve with the chicken and steamed rice.
Avitabile recommends serving with a white Italian wine, the Chiaranda del Merlo 1999 Donna Fugata.