Ever since Noma won the accolade of best restaurant in the world, wresting the title from modernist cuisine stalwart El Bulli in 2010, what soon came to be known as New Nordic cuisine has been thrust firmly into the culinary spotlight. But all that glitters is not necessarily foams, pectin and coniferous herbage; the rise of New Nordic cuisine isn’t just about molecular gastronomy, but has also brought along with it newfound recognition of the quality of produce and heritage of cooking techniques within the region.
One of the great privileges of an international city like Singapore is that you really don’t have to travel very far to sample some of the world’s best cuisines. And the even better news? IKEA’s not the only place to get a taste of the Nordics these days. Come March 24th—3rd April, Triple Three at Mandarin Orchard will be launching its take on the smorgasbord with New Scandinavian Flavours, featuring guest chef Markus Dybwad, who has honed his skills at Michelin-starred establishments such as Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
New Nordic cuisine has often been described as drawing emphasis to purity, simplicity, and freshness. At the same time, the Nordics have also quickly become established as leading proponents of ethical and sustainable farming, and not without good reason—the intentionality and heart that goes into their agriculture, fishing and husbandry translate into food that is both flavourful for the palette and nourishing to the conscience. Today we sampled just a portion of the dishes that will be offered, but these alone were enough to get the imagination running about just how incredible the spread will be when it opens.
Herring on Rye Bread
Herring on Rye Bread makes for a great introduction to your Scandinavian journey; herring is coated in a subtle-sweet mustard sauce and placed atop thin slices of crisp, Danish rye—classic flavours that really open up the palette to what’s next.
Prawns, Mayonnaise, Bread and Dill
Prawns, Mayonnaise, Bread & Dill is a seafood party of Nordic proportions; chilled deep water prawns boast a sweet, succulent flesh that when taken together with some salad and mayonnaise transports you instantly to deck of a boat drifting leisurely on the archipelagos of the north.
Smoked Mackerel with Sour Cream and Cucumbers is another characteristic flavour combination, with the cool smoke on the mackerel flitting in between bursts of brightness from the sour cream and cucumbers. Triple Three smokes their mackerel in-house, imparting it with a gentle aroma that lingers invitingly without being overpowering.
Salmon, Vanilla Mash with Capers and Brown Butter demonstrates the versatility of flavours that complement and enhance what might otherwise be seen as a relatively ubiquitous fish; the salmon is cooked wonderfully, firm yet moist with a deep pink interior. The vanilla mash, though, was my little flavour revelation of the day—a unique combination of texture and scents that works surprisingly well, and which serves as fitting reminder that vanilla was never destined to become that one taste that’s automatically associated with dessert.
Smoked Haddock with Leek and Cauliflower
Smoked Haddock with Leek and Cauliflower presents clean, creamy smooth flavours and textures that starts from the milky-white flesh of the haddock; the cauliflower lends a light crunch while the leek contributes a delicate sweetness that balances out the slight saltiness of the fish.
Stegt Flaesk med Persillesovs (Crispy Pork with Parsley Sauce) is a little curiosity for how its pork bears such resemblance to the Chinese variation of fried pork belly, but perhaps it is this comfort of familiarity that makes the discovery of an unexpected complement of parsley even more compelling. Fun fact of the day: this dish was apparently voted on and named as Denmark’s official national food back in 2014.
Chocolate Lava Cake with Lingonberries
Chocolate Lava Cake with Lingonberries was not officially on the menu today, but was a more than welcome surprise; lingonberries pair with chocolate as exceptionally as strawberries do, but with the added addictive pleasure of a burst of flavour as each berry pops in your mouth. Tart, sweet, bright but rich, it’s hard to resist this one.
Cloudberries with Cream and Brown Cheese tastes just like how you might imagine a cloud would, with a buoyant, fluffy lightness that’s borne by a layer of freshly whipped cream. Cloudberries are another joyous discovery—brilliant golden yellow globules, sour-sweet and very refreshing. Today I also discovered that brown cheese is not just a lazy man’s description of milk product, but in fact one of Norway’s most iconic foodstuffs. Known also as Mysost, Fløtemysost, Geitost, Gjetost, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for something out of Norse mythology. But if there was anything divine about brown cheese, it would have to be its incredible flavour—shaved into delicate slivers, it has a delectable nutty-caramel, savoury-sweetness that makes this dish really shine.
They say that Scandinavia is home to the country with some of the happiest people in the world. No doubt things like a 37 hour workweek and things like the lifestyle of ‘hygge’ help, but I’m inclined to think that with food around the region that tastes this good, it’s really not hard to see why.
Thank you Mandarin Orchard for the invitation.
333 Orchard Road
|Scandinavian Flavours Buffet
24 March to 3 April 2016
Daily Dinner: 6.30pm to 10pm
Sunday Lunch: 12pm to 2.30pm