Samui Wining & Dining
Veggie Treat

At H Bistro, vegetarians aren’t merely tolerated – they’re positively welcomed!

 

Veggie TreatGreat vegetarian food is much more than just plates of vegetables; it needs inspirational and knowledgeable chefs who love their craft. And that’s exactly the case at H Bistro at Hansar Samui Resort & Spa, in Bophut, which has become a huge hit since opening late last year. Executive Chef, Stephen Jean Dion, and his team have already established the restaurant as one of the island’s culinary hot-spots. And with their dedication together with the beachfront location at the far end of Fisherman’s Village, H Bistro’s continued success is assured.

 

Originally from Montreal in Canada, Chef Stephen has held senior positions in top-class restaurant around the world. From his early days in the famed Les Halles restaurant in Quebec to Ma Maison, at the Hilton Nai Lert Park, and Lebua at State Tower, both in Bangkok, he’s excelled wherever he’s been. Before taking up his current position at Hansar Samui he was the Private Chef to His Majesty the King of Jordan and cooked for a host of visiting dignitaries, celebrities and members of other royal families. His recipes are carefully tried and tested and a great deal of research and experimentation goes into each dish before it’s ready to take its place on the menu. And while his focus is on French Mediterranean cuisine, he hasn’t forgotten about a significant proportion of visitors to Samui – vegetarians.

 

We asked him to recommend a three-course Thai inspired menu and a three-course international set-meal that he would serve to vegetarian guests at H Bistro. And we also asked him to give us some insights into why he chose the dishes.

 

“The first Thai cuisine course is Yam Tua Pu, which is a wing bean salad tossed in red chili paste and tamarind sauce with crispy shallots, grated coconut and toasted peanuts. Traditionally this salad would be made with minced pork and shrimp but we forgo these and have created a balanced vegetarian dish. It comprises light, refreshing flavours with crunchy textures and hints of chili and tamarind.

 

For a Thai main course, we have Pak Rad Sod Gaeng Kati, which is white and green asparagus, Shimeji mushrooms and baby carrots simmered in a panang curry sauce. I like the different textures and subtle flavours of these vegetables but you can use almost any seasonal vegetables. We serve it with a portion of steamed rice as source of carbohydrates.

 

For dessert we have one that many people will be familiar with, and that’s Khao Niao Mamuang which is mango sticky rice with coconut ice-cream. It’s rich in calories and vitamin C and the coconut milk provides natural protein as does the sticky rice. Mangoes contain phenols which have powerful antioxidant properties and high levels of iron. And mangoes are effective in relieving clogged pores and are valuable in combating acidity and certain digestive disorders. In Thailand, it’s often eaten as a snack and provides a quick energy boost.

 

For the International vegetarian set food, I’d start off with ‘Sicilian cheery tomatoes with Garofalo mozzarella, chilled tomato soup and wild rocket with aged balsamico’, utilizing the best quality produce available. Sicilian cherry tomatoes are exquisite and Garofalo is well known as the best mozzarella cheese produced in the world. I have used this cheese for many years and the farm’s strength derives from their love of the animals which produce the milk. Especially-bred buffaloes have been used in this region of Italy for generations and the flavours of the cheeses are very distinctive and tasty.

As an International main course, my recommendation is ‘White and green asparagus with black winter truffle shavings and basil flavoured fregola pasta pearls’.

 

The pasta is a source of carbohydrates whilst the other ingredients help balance the dish nutritionally. I use imported European asparagus and truffles and the latter ingredient brings an important dimension to the overall taste. Truffles are highly prized and the 18th century French gastronome, Brillat-Savarin, called these particular truffles ‘the diamonds of the kitchen’. Edible truffles are held in high regard in French, Spanish, northern Italian and Greek cooking and are another of my favourite ingredients.

 

To round off the International set, the dessert is ‘Pineapple ravioli filled with coconut sherbet served in an exotic fruit soup’. The fresh pineapple is high in calcium and vitamins A and C, and the coconut provides fibre and minerals. This dish is light, flavoursome and tastes delicious.”

 

H Bistro has an excellent chef at the helm and one who carefully considers each ingredient. And that is always going to result in spectacular food. At the best restaurants, vegetarian cuisine is never an afterthought; the dishes are an integral part of the menu. If endless seafood barbecues and meat-rich platters have left your digestive system shattered then take the time out to try some alternative cuisine. You don’t have to be vegetarian to order it – you simply have to love great food.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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