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Digest The One Ingredient That Always Reminds Chef Stephanie Wong of Home

The One Ingredient That Always Reminds Chef Stephanie Wong of Home

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong
Roots' signature chicken dish (Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong)
By Agnes Shu
July 30, 2020
Roots chef-owner Stephanie Wong talks about her favourite ingredients

Tucked away in Wan Chai's Star Street precinct is Stephanie Wong's Roots, a Cantonese-inspired French bistro that marries classical European technique with locally-sourced ingredients—think: foie gras terrine à la Peking duck and the restaurant’s signature beef tartare with Yu Kwen Yick chilli sauce. Wong’s passion for incorporating elements of local food culture in her work is reflected in her cuisine. Here, she tells us more about the must-have ingredients she keeps in the kitchen.

See also: Stephanie Wong's Roots Impresses With Cantonese-Inspired French Fare

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong
Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong

What’s your favourite local ingredient?

My favourite local ingredient to cook with is the spring onion. I think it’s the one ingredient that instantly reminds you of the taste of my home, Hong Kong, and is most celebrated for its versatility—from a topping on steamed fish, to a condiment with ginger to accompany poached chicken, or charred and stir-fried with lobster or pork belly. Spring onions can be part of a garnish, but they can also be the star of the dish.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong
Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong

What’s the one ingredient you find yourself using over and over again?

I think all kinds of citrus zests—e.g. grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes—can lift and elevate a dish. It can be part of a richer sauce or just be grated fresh as a final touch to the dish. 

Roots' exterior (Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong)
Roots' exterior (Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Wong)

What's your favourite comfort food?

I think I have a weakness for rice noodles, except that I cannot choose between a stir-fried flat rice noodles with beef or one in soup with beef meatballs. Hainanese chicken rice is a close third place among my ultimate comfort food. I think the home is the ideal source to recharge and nurture myself in times of stress. These comfort dishes that go out of style; they are the humble old Hong Kong comfort dishes that warm my belly any day.

See also: Ando Chef Agustin Balbi's Secret Ingredient Ups the Umami Ante

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