MEET THE GILLS AND THEIR FAMOUS BUTTERED PRAWNS

MANILA, February 19, 2004 (STAR) KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng - Last weekend, more than 5,000 couples trooped to Roxas Blvd. to take part in the "Lovapalooza," in a bid to break the Guinness world record for most number of simultaneous kissing couples in a 10-second span.

In keeping with this monthís theme of love, I am featuring a couple, who loves to cook and dine. This couple used to throw fantastic Sunday lunches that lasted until 5 p.m. when they were still living in Hong Kong. It was not just good food, which kept their friends from leaving their company the whole afternoon, but also the witty conversation and laughter that accompanied their parties. Now, they have moved to Manila, because the husband has been posted as general manager of the Century Park Hotel. He is sharing with Philippine STAR readers some of the recipes their friends in Hong Kong loved.

Paul Gill now calls Manila his home with his Malaysian wife Connie.

Paul rose from the ranks. He started his hotel training in the kitchen. After graduation from a Brighton college in Sussex, England, he worked at the London Hilton in Park Lane as a trainee/commis. He worked his way up the ladder, first as a demi chef de partie at the Hilton in Geneva, Switzerland, and back again in London as senior chef de partie at the famed Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. He was also with Le Meridien Picadilly as a sous chef, and worked in two restaurants, as executive sous chef in IŮigo Jones in Covent Garden and as head chef in Le Sous Sol Restaurant in Old Bailey, London.

He worked at several Hilton properties after his restaurant stints as executive chef. At his posting at the Hilton Kuching, he met his wife Connie.

Connie was working in banquet sales, while Paul was at the helm of the kitchen at the hotel. After a year and a half together, they got married in Kuching, Malaysia. It was uncommon in that part of Malaysia for a Caucasian to marry a local, but Connie said it had nothing to do with race.

"At first, I did not want to get involved with someone from work, but Paul was very persistent. He is a nice person, and we share the same wavelength," she says. "He was very polite and kind, and could adapt himself, especially when it comes to Malay food. His has learned to eat a lot of chili and shrimp paste balachan."

Connie is mighty proud of Malaysian cuisine, and actively supported the Century Park Hotel when it had a Malaysian food festival. She can cook a mean laksa, can make samal balachan and spicy beef rendang. A true Malaysian foodie at heart, she has stocks of ikanbilis or dried dilis, tempoyak, which is pickled salted durian, tamarind paste, chili paste and palm sugar, which has a distinct taste from cane sugar in her home in Manila. She had to bring these goodies from Malaysia because these ethnic Malay ingredients are rare in Manila.

Paul, who could be an Asian trapped in a white manís body, truly has a global palate. He counts baked stingray, chili crab and buttered prawns as his specialties. Actually, their wine maker friends in Hong Kong thought that their cooking at their flat on Old Peak Road in Hong Kong was better than at many restaurants in the former Crown Colony. Sometimes, lunch even ends at 11 p.m.

This March, the couple has cooked up a GMís Table, where they will invite select media, businessmen and politicians to taste Paulís cooking. However, you donít have to be invited to this exclusive affair to taste Paulís cooking, because you can recreate his favorite dishes at home.

This week, the Gills share their recipes for fried kway teow, a Malaysian favorite, and buttered prawns. This prawn dish was inspired by their favorite dish at the Dolphin Restaurant in Buntal, Malaysia when they were just dating. Surprisingly, it is quite easy to make, so you donít have to fly to Malaysia to try this delicious dish.

Buttered Prawns
1 kilo prawns, peeled and de-veined
2 salted egg yolks
25 curry leaves, fresh and finely shredded
75 ml. evaporated milk
3 chili padi (labuyo), chopped finely
2 Tbsps. butter
1 egg white
3 Tbsps. cornstarch oil for deep-frying

For garnish:
1/4 cucumber, cut in half and sliced, for garnish
1/2 piece iceberg lettuce, shredded, for garnish Marinade the prawns with the cornstarch and egg white for a few hours. Blend the salted egg yolk and the evaporated milk together. Sieve to remove large pieces of salted egg yolk. Remove excess marinade from the prawns and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. In a wok, heat the butter. Add the chili and curry leaves. Add the prawns and toss together. Add the blended salted egg yolk and evaporated milk and toss together. Cook until the sauce thickens. Serve on a plate garnished with cucumber and shredded lettuce.

Tips: You can also use crab, firm white fish or whole prawns, as banana prawns. If you cannot find curry leaves, substitute either basil or mint leaves. Do not boil the sauce too much as the egg will cook into scrambled eggs. If the sauce gets too hot, add a little more evaporated milk. This dish must be cooked and served straightaway.

Fried Kway Teow
1/2 cup oil 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chicken breast, shredded
8 prawns, medium-sized, peeled, with the head off and the tail on
24 clams, small to medium size, well-cleaned and pre-cooked
500 g. kway teow, or flat rice noodles
200 g. bean sprouts
2 Tbsps. dark soy sauce
4 Tbsps. light soy sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Chinese chives, cut into lengths
100 g. dried chili, soaked and blended into a paste
8 calamansi

Heat oil in wok. Sautť the garlic for a few seconds, then add the chicken breast, prawns and clams. Stir-fry for a few moments.

Add about three tablespoons of the dried chili paste. Cook together for a few minutes.

Add the noodles, bean sprouts and egg. Season with the soy sauces.

Serve at once. Garnish with calamansi.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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