American Ginseng Chicken Soup in a Le Creuset Round French Oven 24cm in Caribbean Blue.
In Part 2 of our interview with Cheryl Yuen, Commercial Manager at Le Creuset in Singapore, we get to the nuts and bolts of any kitchen – hardware and utensils. She shares her “must-haves” and gives us a look at how French iron cast pots are used to cook Asian favourites.
NOSHtrekker: You have been working for Le Creuset as Commercial Manager for around two-and-a-half years. Can you tell us a little more about what makes the brand so distinct when it comes to kitchen hardware?
Cheryl Yuen: Le Creuset is known for our enameled cast iron cookware. Our quality enamel coating makes cooking, caring and washing of the cast iron cookware so much easier. There are different shapes and sizes for every cooking need, food doesn’t stick easily, the light enamel coating allows you to monitor food when cooking, you can move the same pot from the stove top into the oven to cook in, the cookware comes in a multitude of beautiful colours so serving directly onto the dining table looks great too, and they are so easy to clean.
NT: What is your favorite Le Creuset product?
CY: It has to be the 24cm Round French Oven. I’m Cantonese on my paternal side of the father, and being Cantonese, there’s always a pot of soup which accompanies every meal. The 24cm Round French Oven is the perfect size to hold a whole chicken along with all the additional Chinese herbs and dried goods which go into boiling the soup. The whole process is extremely fuss-free and perfect for a working person.
When I’m up in the morning, I simply place all my ingredients which I’ve prepared the night before into my trusty “soup pot”, add in about 4 soup bowls of hot water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for the next 1.5 hours. During that time, I would either do my morning session of personal training or have breakfast. By the time I’m ready to leave for work, switch off the heat and leave the soup to continue cooking with the residue heat. This is the magic of cast iron cooking! When I’m home from work, I only need to heat the soup up.
NT: Which Le Creuset product should the beginner home cook consider investing in?
CY: Definitely a Round French Oven in a 22cm (good for 3-4 pax) or 24cm (good for 4-5pax). This is an extremely versatile pot. You can braise and stew, boil soups and desserts, even pot roasts. Because it can be used over the stove top (works on gas, electric and induction) and in the oven, it further increases its versatility. Capacity wise, the 22cm and 24cm make for very functional sizes. There’s lots of space to do one pot meals, which is great for beginner home cooks who may find cooking several dishes all at the same time slightly overwhelming. Weight wise, these sizes are also manageable for first-time users.
Le Creuset Round French Oven in Cherry Red. Photo credit: Le Creuset
NT: And our seasoned home cook? If they don’t already own a Le Creuset, or want to expand their collection?
CY: The Buffet Casserole which is shallow and round in shape. The wide shallow base ensures maximum contact between food and heat, so it’s great for braising which requires less liquids. You can even bake breads and brownies, paella and dry-steam (which is basically steam food directly on the cookware with small amounts of liquid). During Chinese New Year, the pencai (NT note: also known as a “wonder pot” or “basin dish” which includes braised dried seafood, roast meat and vegetables covered in a thick gravy) can be prepared in it, and for those who are fans of Korean army stew the Buffet Casserole makes for a wonderful tabletop meal too.
Braising in a Le Creuset Buffet Casserole in Flame. Photo credit: Le Creuset
NT: Have local Singaporean cooks adapted to using cast iron pots in their cooking?
CY: Le Creuset have been working hard for the past 3 years to demystify cast iron cooking, and to share with our consumers that cast iron cookware is not just for western cooking, it works beautifully with our local Asian/ Singapore cuisine too. We have been working with chefs and culinary bloggers to craft out recipes, especially local Asian recipes, which will cook beautifully in a Le Creuset. For example, Teochew Braised Duck, Red Wine Chicken, Fish Maw Soup, Vinegar Pork Trotters, Dum Mutton Briyani and even Claypot-Style Chicken Rice. (http://bit.ly/cookingwithlecreuset)
Read Part 1 of this interview where Cheryl gives us a personal look at the food she eats and cooks at home, and reminds us of how food connects generations
About Cheryl Yuen
Cheryl loves her food. She can often be found scouting for new places to try or revisiting personal favourites. During the weekends, she can be seen pottering about in the kitchen — perspiration running down her temples, a small frown of concentration on her face — as she tests out new recipes or prepares meals for friends and loved ones. But really, Cheryl is a lot more comfortable being in the dining room, then she is in the kitchen. @cheryllovesbess