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What to do with Apples – Chef Petrina Loh Tells

By Guan Tan

 
Felicia Yap
 

Eve ate an apple from the Garden of Eden. Snow white took a bite off the evil queen's apple. Apple has gone beyond all defintion of what a computer company consists to become a global empire. The world beyond the culinary sector has been extremely inventive with the use of apples. In the culinary universe, apples are surprisingly stale. We seem to always consume apples in the few hackneyed ways.

"As a child I consumed apples regularly. I tried different kinds of apples from the more common Fuji and Granny Smith apples to cherry or crab apples. I also drank apple juice," chef-owner of Morsels, Petrina Loh counts the ways she consume apples. In Singapore, "people [also] consume fresh and dried apples, baked in pastries, juiced, in soups, stews, slaws and salads." 

Abroad, there are more varieties, Loh recites, "candied apples, caramel apples... apples in chips and cider. We also see apples incorporated into sauces paired with roasts, especially pork." 

There's so much potential for the use of apples in savoury dishes. "Apples have a sweet taste, mealy texture, and contains pectin, so they are great for apple fillings. I particularly like Granny Smith apples as they have a sweet and sour taste profile. Hence, I can use it in a lot of savoury applications," she explains. 

One of Loh’s culinary methods include fermentation. “In addition to the gut-healing properties of fermented foods, I love fermented foods for the depth in flavour it provides. It is a technique that allows nature to do its thing—an artisanal way of cooking that I love.” Fermentation allows Loh to preserve the seasonal produce and reduce food waste.

It then made sense that apples could be fermented too. When asked to try, Loh quickly jumped on board and created a savoury dish for the fermented apples. “I took the classic pairing of pork and apple and made it my own by creating a greater depth in flavour with the fermented apple sauce. 

To Loh, apple fermentation is simple. “All you need is salt.” Loh recommends home cooks who are interested to read up about basic food fermentation and they'll be good to go.

“For this dish, we peel and cut the apple roughly into larger dices, [and] combine it with salt.” Later, the diced apples are stored in an air-tight container for two to three days. Loh notes that the mixture has to be stirred daily. “As carbon dioxide will be produced during fermentation, we need to open the container daily to release the gases.” 

The next vital thing to note would be “to take note of the mould that forms during fermentation.” White, light green and a tinge of yellow mould indicates healthy fermentation. Red and black are bad. And when the fermented applesauce is ready, “the good bacteria and probiotics will be in the sauce.

Here, chef Petrina Loh’s recipe is split into five segments before the final assembly. 

 

Grilled Iberico Pork Jowl

Serves four to six 

Felicia YapA tray of sliced pork jowl.
A tray of sliced pork jowl.

PORK JOWL
1kg (4 pieces) Iberico Pork Jowl 

Marinade Ingredients
200ml Shoyu (Yamasa brand) 
200ml Dashi
85g Sesame oil
85g Brown sugar
80g Mirin
1 Grapefruit, juiced
1 Brown onion sliced thinly 
16g Garlic peeled
10g Ginger peeled 

Method
1. Make marinade
2. Combine marinade and pork jowl in cooking bag
3. Cook in sous vide 80 degrees celcius for 5.5 hours
4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius, finish in oven on low fan, at 180 degrees celcius for 5 minutes on each side (total of 10 minutes)

Felicia YapChef Petrina Loh's fermented applesauce.
Chef Petrina Loh's fermented applesauce.

FERMENTED APPLE
4 Granny Smith Green Apples 
2%* Salt
1no. Lemon zest
0.65%* Xanthan gum 
5g Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar 
*% of weight of apples

Method
1. Peel apples, remove core, and chop them up into large dices
2. Add salt, and toss in lemon zest
3. Store in an air-tight container and leave in room temperature to ferment in shaded area for two to three days. Stir and taste daily.
4. When you've arrived at your desired flavour, use a hand blender or food processor and blend until the puree is smooth
5. Use a sieve to distribute the xanthan and blend it into the mixture. Xanthan does not require heat.
6. Sieve the puree again. Serve the sauce at room temperature. 

Felicia YapChef Petrina Loh plating the apple watercress salad alongside the fermented applesauce.
Chef Petrina Loh plating the apple watercress salad alongside the fermented applesauce.

APPLE WATERCRESS SALAD 
200g Watercress
2 Granny Smith Apples
1 Red Bombay Onion
10g Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar 
30g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3g Kosher Salt
Fine Black Pepper to taste 

Method
1. Wash greens thoroughly and soak in water for 15 minutes
2. Spin dry in a salad spinner
3. Peel and cut apples into medium-sized dices, soak in acidulated water
4. Make a simple vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt
5. Slice bombay onions thinly
6. Toss together and serve alongside the pork jowl

Felicia YapChef Petrina Loh sets a bed of quinoa before plating the grilled pork over it.
Chef Petrina Loh sets a bed of quinoa before plating the grilled pork over it.

QUINOA
240g Mixed Coloured Quinoa
240g Water
30g Pork Fat/ Melted Butter/ Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
2g Salt 

Method
1. Wash quinoa properly in sieve to get rid of bitterness 
2. Mix in fat content and top up with water
3. Cling film a bowl with the quinoa mixture
4. Steam for 15-20 minutes
5. Season with salt 

 

MUSSELS
500g Black pacific mussels 
30g Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
2. Remove beard on mussels
3. Use dry heat to open mussels. Put cleaned mussels in oven for 4-5 minutes.
4. Remove mussels, and season with extra virgin olive oil

Felicia YapFinally, the mussels are placed on the pork jowl. Here, the final plated Grilled Iberico Pork Jowl with fermented applesauce.
Finally, the mussels are placed on the pork jowl. Here, the final plated Grilled Iberico Pork Jowl with fermented applesauce.
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