Hans Lin, the Chinese executive chef at Shangri-La Hotel, Beihai won champion in the final leg of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ Chinese Master Chefs Culinary Challenge at China World Hotel, Beijing on 20 June 2013.
Chef Lin’s winning dishes, Braised Pork with Dan Quan Spirit and Stir-Fried Spicy Bean Curd with Cauliflower, bested those of four other Chinese executive chefs in the competition. The competing chefs had more than 100 years of experience between them.
Having faced 28 competitors from Shangri-La's mainland China hotels in five regional rounds in April and May this year for a coveted place in June's final, the five Chinese executive chefs each prepared two Chinese dishes of their choice in the Beijing competition: one to showcase innovation and the other to fully embrace a traditional cooking method.
The other competing chefs were Jia Zhenggui from Shangri-La Hotel, Qingdao; Sham Yun Ming from Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing; Rick Du from Shangri-La Hotel, Chengdu; and Jacky Chan Kwok Hung from Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou.
The decision of nominating Shangri-La's Chinese Master Chef fell upon a panel of judges, including four influential Beijing-based food critics, and the senior management of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. All ten dishes were tasted and graded according to ten criteria, including the chef’s cooking skill, the colour of the dish, taste, aroma, food temperature, combined ingredients, choice of flatware and more. Each chef had the opportunity to personally explain his thoughts and the inspiration for his entries, and to answer questions from the panel.
For his Braised Pork with Dan Quan Spirit, Chef Lin used pigs bred freely in the Beibu Gulf. He chose marbled pork with skin, removed its hair and steamed it, then cut it into small cubes. He placed the cooked pork into a bowl, added a light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken sauce, crystal sugar, salt, Dan Quan spirit, Liquan beer, yellow rice wine, ginger, garlic bulb, oyster sauce, abalone sauce, teriyaki marinade and Maggi soy sauce before letting it simmer for three to five hours. He fried the preserved vegetables and placed them on the bottom of an earthen jar. He then placed the cooked marbled pork on the preserved vegetables. Finally, he poured the cooked sauce over the pork. The dish released a strong flavour and bouquet. The pork fat melted in the mouth, yet it did not feel greasy.
Dan Quan spirit is produced in Nandan County in the northwest of Guangxi. The county is famous for its karst landform and rich mineral resources. Known as the “Maotai of Guangxi” and “the best spirit in Guangxi,” Dan Quan spirit has a robust, strong flavour and bouquet. It is made from selected sorghum, wheat and spring water drawn from a deep stratum in the region that is full of minerals.
Beibu Gulf pork is a one-of-a-kind ingredient in Beihai. Local farmers breed the pigs on the beach of Beibu Gulf freely. The pigs forage on the pollution-free beach, breathing in the freshest air in China while finding ghost crabs, small fishes and shellfish for eating. These free and non-fodder breed of pork taste better than normal pork; it is fresher, sweeter and more fragrant.
The major ingredients of the Stir-Fried Spicy Bean Curd with Cauliflower dish included air-dried cauliflowers and Qianye bean curd. The cauliflowers and Qianye bean curd were stir-fried with onion, marbled pork, garlic, bird’s eye chilli, wild chilli and capsicum frutescens before it was served on the plate. Qianye bean curd is made of soybean flour and starch. This low-fat, low-carbohydrate ingredient is high in protein. It not only maintains its tender flavour, but is also crisp and springy. Qianye bean curd can be used in various dishes because of its special taste and because it easily absorbs sauces.
For the Stir-Fried Spicy Bean Curd, the chef prepared thinly sliced bean with onion, marbled pork, chopped garlic and three kinds of hot chilli. He first sautéed the onion in a hot wok, then fried the air-dried cauliflower with cumin on top. He fried the marbled pork with garlic, the three kinds of chilli and seasoning in the wok. The bean curd and dipping sauce made from homemade soy sauce and chicken stock were added. Finally, the cooked bean curd was placed on top of the sautéed onion before serving. The dish presented a well-balanced combination of sour and hot Sichuan flavours, and fresh and hot Hunan flavours. The bean curd absorbed the sauce, leaving it spicy and the cauliflower crispy. The dish’s sour and hot flavour whets the appetite.
“It’s my honour to attend the final of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts' Chinese Master Chefs Culinary Challenge and to exchange cooking skills with five Chinese executive chefs from different regions. Thanks to Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for a very good chance to show off our culinary talents and to communicate with others. Beihai is an open city. Half of the population here come from different cities all around China. Different non-native populations brought various cuisines to Beihai, such as Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine, Guizhou cuisine, Chinese Islamic cuisine and so on. In the two dishes I cooked, I just used cooking skills from Huaiyang, Sichuan and Hunan cuisines, but for the major ingredients, I choose to use local products. It shows how to cook local dishes in traditional ways, but still creative and shows a different Beihai dish,” Chef Lin said.
Chef Lin began his culinary career in 1989. With more than 25 years culinary experience, he has enriched the dining experience with his natural gift for culinary excellence and eye for detail. He is well-versed in Cantonese and Chiu Chow cuisines. At Shangri-La Hotel, Beihai, he has served for Wen Jiabao, Zhang Dejign, Jia Qinlin, He Guoqiang, Chi Haotian, Zhou Yongkang, Guo Shengkun and the vice precedent of The Federated States of Micronesia.
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