During the hectic Chinese New Year period, Chinese restaurants are often besieged with customers – from families hankering after delicious Chinese meals to corporations hosting festive dinners for their employees.
The bottom line is, many chefs are completely run off their feet, which means anything that helps speed up the cooking process is often welcomed with open arms.
Which is why Unilever Food Solutions’ (UFS) products often come in handy during this period, especially Knorr products like chicken stock, lime powder and golden salted egg yolk powder.
“I think in Malaysia, about 95% of Chinese restaurants use our products.
“And we are often the first to come out with certain products. Like salted egg yolk powder – we were the first to capitalise on the trend and come up with the powder, although there are a lot of similar products on the market now,” says UFS Malaysia chef Alan Wong.
Wong says many of these products help chefs achieve optimal results in a shorter period of time, which is a huge boon during CNY, when restaurants are normally packed to the gills.
“Chefs use our products not because they want to limit their skills, but because using our ready-made products free them to do what they want to do while saving time on certain steps.
“For example, if chefs use Knorr’s chicken stock instead of making their own, it will cut the cooking time and enhance the chicken flavour.
“Of course, they can still use chicken to make their own stock, but if they want to make 10 litres of chicken stock, previously they may have needed 10kg of chicken, but with the ready-made stock, they can cut it down to 5kg of chicken, so it’s time-saving, especially during CNY,” he says.
To further inspire chefs, Wong and other Malaysian chefs have come up with a handy little recipe book, which focuses on Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka dishes and contains 13 Chinese recipes designed to provide inspiration for chefs during CNY.
The recipe book is distributed free to restaurants that make bulk orders of UFS products.
“All the other chefs who contributed recipes in this book are from Chinese restaurants. I know them very well – they use our products and have the desire to come up with new recipes.
“And what I’ve realised is that there are two ways of looking at Chinese dishes – one is the traditional way and the other is to use traditional ingredients to do fusion cuisine, because nowadays a lot of chefs like to create new things for the market,” says Wong.
Wong himself came up with an interesting twist on the classic yee sang, which infuses salted egg yolk powder into the conventional plum sauce, providing it with rich, buttery undertones.
“In the book, we have replaced some traditional ingredients with modern options, so hopefully other chefs will be inspired to try something new,” says Wong.