“When I think of summer, I think of barbecues, warm beer, ripe tomatoes and gelato,” says Chef Christian. “Tomato gelato? [laughs] In Scotland, even in the summer, perfect days are few and far between, so when we have them we drop everything and embrace them.”
No one could accuse Chef Christian of not embracing the year-round summer in Malaysia. At his Kuala Lumpur restaurant Sitka (he also owns Moonfish Café in Aberdeen), along with partner Jenifer Kuah, he’s presented dish after dish that sparkle with his curiosity and inventiveness and keen appreciation of local flavours. Not in a hackneyed east-meets-west way, but in a manner much more sophisticated – could you ever have imagined a cendol that zings with kaffir lime oil? Or sweet, tender leeks spiked with chilli oil and spicy XO sauce? How about charred kailan topped with creamy ricotta?
“In Malaysia it’s always summer!” says Chef Christian. “I often want a really light meal that’s refreshing yet big on flavour, so this is a go-to. We are in love with making our own cheese at Sitka the moment, so this is a dish that has recently been served.”
And then there are the dishes that remind him of home. Mushrooms on toast, of course – but not just any mushrooms. “In the highlands of Scotland when the weather is just right we can have an influx of the most amazing wild mushrooms,” he explains.
“Ceps, chanterelles and morels regularly arrive at the restaurant by the kilo and if I’m so inclined I’ll forage at my folks’ house in Royal Deeside by the river. Wild garlic this time of year is everywhere and pairs amazingly with wild mushrooms.”
• Chanterelles, or any wild mushrooms
• Olive oil
• Sourdough bread
• Fresh cream
• Wholegrain mustard
• Sherry vinegar
• Fresh parsley
• A pinch of salt
• A wedge of lemon
1. Get a small sauté pan up to heat, and add wild mushrooms with a good tablespoon of butter and a bit of olive oil. Sauté for five to six minutes, then finish with a sprinkle of salt, fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
2. While the mushrooms are sautéing, put two slices of good sourdough on the grill to lightly toast. When golden, spread with butter and a sprinkle of salt.