Samui Wining & Dining
Signed with a Flourish

We learn the secret of how to make the signature dish at ‘Olivio’.

7It’s hard to know why restaurants succeed, whether it’s the way they blend their décor and ambiance with their menu and service– who knows. But one thing they’ve all got in common is that there’s something they’re proud of. On the menu, sometimes right at the top, or highlighted elsewhere, is their ‘signature dish’. And this time around we’re having a close look at the signature dish from Olivio restaurant.

    At the edge of the sand, overlooking the sea and the entire glittering sweep of the bay, in the northernmost reach of Chaweng Bay, you’ll come across a small and exclusive resort called Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Spa. It’s clearly signposted, but tucked away down a small side road that becomes more Mediterranean in feel the further down you go; if it isn’t actually a cobbled street then it certainly seems like one!

     The Mediterranean flavour remains as you turn into the narrow entrance to the seaward part of the resort, with the pool and the resort’s restaurant that’s known simply as ‘Olivio’. This is something of a gem, serving a selection of authentic Sicilian dishes, using many ingredients that are imported from Italy each month. Originally the creation of the legendary chef, Luigi Fadda, this restaurant is where the Italians themselves come to eat. Luigi’s now moved on but remains in contact; the chefs who remain were all trained by him, and he regularly consults and advises as to the ingredients and the menu.

     And, of course, in amongst the squad of dishes that all play together to create a winning side, there has to be one particular star. One dish that’s asked for again and again, and which Olivio is proud to feature. In this case it’s utterly delicious, and it’s properly known as Insalatina Novella con Granchio e Tonno Rosso. Which to non-Italianspeakers directly translates as ‘Garden Salad with Soft-Shell Crabs and Red Tuna’.

      It has to be said that the way the crab is treated is simply sublime, which in this case means flash-frying it in the crispiest and lightest of batters. Once you’ve got past the crunch then that cliché of ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ kicks in for real. And teaming it with a portion of red tuna fillet is just perfect, particularly when it’s enhanced by a splash of apple juice and garnished with olives, tomatoes and fresh salad.

       The chefs at Olivio aren’t secretive; in fact they are so happy about this dish that they want to share it with everybody. And below you’ll discover how to make it for yourself. But, as they say, accept no substitute! And although this is a dish not easily forgotten, it’s probably best-remembered as part of an idyllic evening under the stars at Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Spa. And then afterwards you can summon the memories again any time you want, by making this super dish yourself.


      Ingredients: (serves one person)

      60 gms red tuna

      120 gms soft shell crab

      40 gms polenta flour

      40 gms fresh tomato

      50 ml green apple juice

      60 ml virgin olive oil

      20 ml lemon juice

      Salt and pepper

      Shaved parmesan


Method: Marinade the tuna with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then set it aside. Prepare the soft-shell crab by rubbing with salt and pepper, coat with polenta flour, then deep fry until golden and crisp. Rapidly sear both sides of the tuna, only about ½ minute on each side. Make the salad dressing by mixing 20 ml of virgin olive oil with 10 ml of lemon juice and the green apple juice, whisking until combined. Serve by placing the tuna and crab on the plate, decorating it with the salad and topping it all with the parmesan cheese.




Rob De Wet


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