by Shenoj Kuruvilla
On 21st April 2022, the SKILLS Club of BAC held their first hybrid session: “Learn How to Make Penne Arrabiata with Pickles and Smoked Duck.” This session was conducted by Reliance College’s very own Chef Instructor, Chef Wong Wik Kie. Chef Wong has been in the business since 2012, and has been with Reliance College since 2018. The session, held at Reliance Cafe’s kitchen was attended by members of the SKILLS Club, and BAC staff.
At the start of the session, Chef Wong handed out the recipe to all the attendees for reference. This way, they could try the recipe at home on their own as well.
Before starting off the session, Chef Wong had placed a pot of water with some salt to boil. He began with the portioning of pasta, and explained that most brands of pasta have a recommended serving size, and we can use that as reference when portioning out a single serving of pasta.
The actual cook then started. The first step would be to boil the pasta. Chef Wong emphasised that the pasta should be placed into water that is already at a rolling boil, rather than just slightly boiling. The pasta should be cooked for the recommended time according to the packaging, being stirred from time to time.
As Chef Wong left the pasta to cook, he moved on to the Arrabiata sauce. To start, olive oil is added to a pan. Before it reaches a sizzling point, the smoked duck is placed in the pan to sear slightly. Once it has been slightly browned, green capsicum, chopped onion and garlic is added. It is then sauteéd until fragrant.
Not long after, the attendees started to comment on the wonderful aroma coming from the pan, which indicated that it was time for the next step. Chef Wong added in sliced olives, cherry tomatoes, capers, chilli flakes and salt, and sauteéd for a quick 10 seconds. While adding in the chilli flakes, Chef Wong explained that Arrabiata means angry in Italian. As such, the ‘angry’ name for it is meant to show the spiciness of the sauce. He noted that although the recipe states an amount for the chilli flakes and the salt, you can adjust the amount to taste.
Next, Chef Wong added in the tomato sauce. He explained that though the sauce he used was made from scratch, we can use ready-made tomato sauce if we find that more convenient. Once the sauce had mixed well with the ingredients and begins to boil, he added in the fresh basil. He then strained the pasta and added it to the Arrabiata sauce, setting the heat to maximum and sautéing the pasta for 30 seconds, turning off the heat immediately after.
At this point, Chef Wong opened the floor for questions, and the audience were all wondering the same thing: how was he able to flip the food in the pan as he did? He briefly demonstrated his technique in two steps; push the food forward in the pan and then pull it back. While demonstrating the next step, which was to add the chopped parsley, he gave a few members of the audience a chance to try it out.
The last step would be to transfer the pasta to a serving plate and top with a spoon of parmesan cheese and basil as garnish.
After Chef Wong completed his demonstration, he opened the floor for any audience member to try and replicate his work, offering a free drink from Reliance Café as a tantalising reward.
A member of the club stepped up to try, and with some guidance from Chef Wong, she managed to replicate the dish quite well!
To sweeten the deal even further, Chef Wong revealed that he had prepared small portions for each person, and there was a tasting session. Chef Wong even prepared a few takeaway portions for Muslims who were fasting, so they could also get the chance to try it when they break their fast.
It was a fruitful session indeed, and attendees were able to pick-up yet another skill which would be of use to them.
If you found this interesting, join the SKILLS Club for more informative and enjoyable sessions!