Cool and Refreshing Dishes to Beat the Summer Heat
How do you stay active and productive in summer, without getting overwhelmed and wilting in the heat? All our Secret Tables are rolling out their favourite summertime dishes to help diners cool off.
According to traditional Asian medicine, the key to maintaining good health is all about finding the right balance. Summer is the season of ‘Yang’, an active and warming energy. It is typically the season that we spend the most time outdoors, travelling, playing sport or simply enjoying the warm weather and sunny days. Yet too much warm energy can also make us feel tired and lethargic. To beat the heat and stay hydrated, we need to activate the cool energy, ‘Yin’, to strike that all important balance. And this is where your favourite chef or Secret Table can help you, as what we eat and drink plays an important role in restoring our Yin.
Here are 5 Secret Tables sharing their favourite dishes for beating the heat with you, to help you boost your Yin and balance your Yang this summer.
The Redbox – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Khao Chae – Icy Jasmine Rice Infused by Floral Water
The Redbox is owned by a passionate team; Chef Dan Boonchaliew and his food artist wife, Pam Kankulsuntorn. The two have combined their talents to create a dining destination unlike any other in Chiang Mai. Elegant and welcoming, each dish is impeccably presented. The menu features creative takes on Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine. And this summer The Redbox team are offering this Thailand favourite in the totally the traditional way. Khao Chae is literally translated as ‘rice that is soaked in cool water’ and typically served with a delicious array of savoury side dishes. It may not sound like much, but it’s actually a dish that requires a high-level of skill in preparation and is an exquisite sight once properly served. It’s considered to be a special dish and can only be eaten during certain times of the year. In essence, Khao Chae is a seasonal item usually only seen on menus in the peak of summer.
Khao Chae was very much a favourite dish of King Rama IV and during that era, Kapi Thod (deep-fried shrimp paste balls), Yison Phad Waan (sweetened stir-fried eagle ray), and Chai Pow Waan (sweetened dry turnips) were served as accompaniments. Other side dishes like Hua Hom Yad Sai (stuffed onions), Prik Yuak Yad Sai (stuffed green peppers stuffed), and carved colourful vegetables were added in the later years of King Rama V’s reign – making the recipe known today as “Khao Chae Savoey” the Royal Khao Chae.
Nowadays, this revered and traditional dish has been shared beyond the palace walls and is featured on menus across the kingdom, having become popular with Thais as very much the sought-after summertime menu for cooling down particularly during Songkran Festival, Thailand’s New Year, which is also one of the hottest months of the Thai year too.
Apéritif Restaurant & Bar – Bali, Indonesia
Heirloom Beetroot – Smoked and Pickled Heirloom Beetroot
Located amid a lush jungle setting, a mere stone’s throw from Central Ubud in Bali, Apéritif’s menu explores global cuisine by way of the Indonesian archipelago, and introduces a mélange of flavours that reflect both the modern world’s gastronomy through exquisite locally sought produce and lesser-known Indonesian ingredients. Executive Chef Nic Vanderbeeken takes culinary influences, historical, traditional and modern, from the Spice Islands and combines them with distinctively western flavours and cooking techniques.
It is hard to choose between their famous cocktails or dishes to feature in this edition because they are all unique and amazing. This sophisticated dish is particularly outstanding though. Meet Apéritif’s Heirloom Beetroot dish. Prepared with smoked and pickled refreshing heirloom beetroots from Bedugul, and a cool, creamy Buratta emulsion and with a kick of Andaliman pepper (a similar taste to Sichuan Pepper, lemony and mandarin) from Sumatra (Medan) that will make your taste buds burst with joy. Colourful and cooling, are these the flavors of a Spice Islands summer on a plate?
Labyrinth – Singapore
Ice Kacang – Sweet Shaved Ice
Since opening in 2014, Labyrinth has received numerous international accolades for Chef Han’s creative mastery, not least of which was a Michelin star in 2017, and he is continuing his quest to challenge the notion of inventive cuisine. Chef Han carefully curates each menu to bring together an interaction of fun and nostalgia to share that essence of classic Singaporean dishes. And Chef Han has a perfect dish for this “Beat the Heat” edition that is both flavourful and packed with cooling properties.
This super refreshing creation features local herbs and plants that grow abundantly in Singapore, cultivated and in the wild. An alchemic mix of Oyster Plant Kakigori, Roselle and Wandering Jew Syrup, with cooling Aloe Vera macerated in honey from Stingless Black Bees, combined with Butterfly Sorrel and Tropical Fruits. Traditionally used for herbal tea infusions, the Oyster Plant and Wandering Jew both provide a natural floral note with a gorgeous natural purplish hue and a delicate perhaps grape-like flavour; so do keep a lookout for these plants the next time you are exploring the outdoors in Singapore. Or better still, cue Don Henley on your audio device, ‘put your Wayfarers on’, and just book your table at Labyrinth as this HAS to be the Taste of Summer.
Initial Cuisine – Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Passion Fruit Jelly and Coconut Mouse in Beeswax Bowl
Initial is the hottest fine dining venue in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and serves modern European food with a Japanese twist. Chef Chin Hong Koh, who honed his craft in the Michelin starred restaurant ‘Noma’, is the mastermind behind this unique restaurant.
Chef Koh would like to present us with his favourite summer sweet creation. A refreshing passion fruit jelly, with a milky coconut mouse and lemongrass sorbet topped off both beautifully and light with an Italian meringue, and served with a dash of rare local stingless bee honey in a beeswax bowl. Rich, refreshing and uniquely distinctive flavours all perfectly combined to delight, excite and cool your palate in the height of summer.
Secret Garden – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Gỏi Rong Gai Trộn Táo – Algae Salad with Apple (a delightfully cooling vegan dish)
When one imagines Vietnamese cuisine it usually recalls a very rustic Vietnam, but Secret Garden 131 Calmette is what we call a modern Vietnamese, where its harmonious and elegant design is seen both in the design and the dishes. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating with the inside area adorned with chic furniture and rustic bamboo, and the outside area offering a quiet, peaceful space within a lovely garden. Guests can discover unique Vietnamese cuisine that combines traditional dishes with a modern flair, just like this dish we would like to introduce to you today.
Fruit salad has gone savory, and savory fruit salad is now a trend. Here in Asia we don’t only reach for the sugar bowl, ice-cream and yoghurt when planning a deliciously cooling fruit salad, we also reach for garlic, salt and chili. Juicy chunks of apple layered with fresh and crunchy vegetables all dressed in lemon, sugar, garlic, and topped with fresh mint leaves, spiced with red chili for the all-essential kick and showered in the freshness of piles of fresh herbs and algae. This salad is high in water content from the veggies and apple and invigorates and hydrates you at the same time giving you perfect excuse to order that bottle of Taittinger where the golden light through a champagne flute bathes the best memories of a life (or Rosé tinted is just as good) and helps to keep those Yins and Yangs in balance – maybe that’s why I wobble so much after a bottle of wine, too much Yang and not enough Yin is knocking me off balance!