Petrina Loh worked in banking for eight years before switching careers at the age of 30, heading for the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and its Le Cordon Bleu programme.
In this series, we meet chefs under 35 whose restaurants were awarded stars in Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2017/2018.
Petrina Loh, 35
Graduating and with work experience at restaurants like State Bird Provisions and Spruce under her belt, she returned home to open Morsels at Mayo Street, Little India in 2013. She moved to her current location at Dempsey Hill earlier this year. There, she serves up modern Asian cuisine deeply inspired by her travels. This year alone, she spent about a month in Korea learning the art of kimchi making at the village of Yangpyeong and at the Institute of Gyeonggi cuisine in Seongnam. She incorporates homemade kimchi in her signature dish of steamed Venus clams in fig broth.
For chef Loh, building layers of flavour is paramount. She says, “We don’t just add finishing salt; we season [the dish] at each stage of the cooking process. Some of the ways we layer flavour is by adding a fermented element or acidity with the use of pickles and fresh citrus, among others.”
In her new dish grilled Thomas Farms Denver lamb ribs, for instance, she cooks the lamb in the Chinese herbs dang gui and yuzhu, liquorice, cinnamon and star anise. For savoury notes, she adds fermented red beancurd, then sous vides the lamb until it is tender. The lamb is finished on the grill with reduced herbal glaze. Chef Loh then makes a green romesco sauce using green bell peppers, roasted Chinese almonds and jalepeño to match the Cabernet Franc from Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon she intends to pair the dish with. Lastly, she adds pickled bittergourd, a ‘cooling’ element which also counters the fattiness of the lamb, jicama for a nutty taste, crispy beehoon for crunch and texture, and micro cilantro.
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s September 2017 issue – Singapore’s Top Restaurants, ‘Early Risers’