DAMIEN CHOW, 38
Sales and business developer
Father of two, married for eight years

How he got into cooking “It’s always been a part of my life. It is something I was always interested in, thanks to the influence of my dad, who was a good cook. My grandfather used to cook too, so there’s a history of guys in my family who cook. I think I’ve become a little more serious about it and experiment a lot more now.”

On his role in the kitchen “I do the planning. I have a domestic helper who comes along with me to do the grocery shopping. I introduced her to the butcher and trained her so she knows what to do every day. Occasionally, I’ll do the cooking on weekends.”

Where he likes to dine “Anywhere that serves sincerity in their food that you can taste. I get frustrated when food is mass-produced, without heart.”

His tip “Always rest meat for at least five minutes after cooking as this allows it to retain the juices better.”

Cold Angel Hair Pasta with Maryland-style Crab Cakes

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
50g angel hair pasta
1 pack chives, finely chopped
6 sprigs English parsley, finely chopped
50g kombu, finely chopped
3 tbsp truffle oil
2 tsp caviar (optional)

For the aioli:
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 small gherkins, finely chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise

For the crab cakes:
1 tbsp lemon juice
400g whole crabmeat
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
2 small shallots, finely chopped
4 tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS
1 Prepare the angel hair pasta according to package instructions, drain, then toss it in chives, parsley, kombu and truffle oil. Chill the pasta in the fridge.
2 Combine the lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, gherkins and mayonnaise to create the aioli. Mix well.
3 Combine the lemon juice, crabmeat, egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce and shallots. Add more breadcrumbs if necessary to attain a drier texture.
4 Shape mixture into 1-inch wide patties, then fry in a hot pan with melted butter.
5 Pan-fry each side for 1 to 2 mins, until cooked. Place in preheated oven at 180 deg C for 6 mins to brown.
6 Drizzle aioli on crab cakes and serve with chilled pasta.

RICHARD NG, 44
Management consultant
Father of two, married for 21 years

How he got into cooking “I’ve always had an interest from young, watching my mother and grandmother cook. I live to eat and I like trying different cuisines, so I was always keen to explore cooking. After leaving my investment banking job three years ago, I’ve had a more balanced lifestyle, which gave me a chance to pursue cooking and experiment with it.”

On fresh produce “I’m very interested in different produce and vegetation that can be found in different parts of the world. Fresh produce is so important, because I like cooking styles that bring out the natural fl avour of the ingredients.”

His current cooking phase “I prepare fine-dining meals only occasionally as they take a lot of effort. Of late, I’ve been making one-pot meals like claypot chicken, seafood pasta and crab tung hoon.”

His tip “Don’t forget wine-and-food pairings! A well-picked wine will make a good meal great.”

Argentinian Wild Pink Prawn Spaghetti

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
5 giant prawns
250g spaghetti
6 tbsp olive oil
4 drops truffle oil
2 tsp ground paprika
1 green lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 pineapple, diced finely
1/4 each of red, yellow and orange capsicum, diced finely
2 tbsp ikura (salmon roe)
4 tbsp tobiko (flying fish roe)
4 sprigs Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS
1 Cook 4 of the prawns in boiling salt water until pink, then set aside to cool.
2 Prepare the spaghetti according to package instructions, drain, then toss in 3 tbsp olive oil and the truffle oil. Set aside.
3 Cut up the remaining prawn, without shelling.
4 In a small frying pan, stir-fry the prawn in 3 tbsp olive oil over a small fire.
5 Add 1 tbsp of water and stir. Maintain the small fire, and stir until the water evaporates.
6 Add paprika to the mixture and continue to stir till well-combined.
7 Strain the mixture, removing the prawn and paprika residue. The remaining prawn essence oil should be a clear orange with a strong prawn fragrance.
8 Portion the spaghetti into four servings, before adding the limes, lemons, pineapples and capsicums. Sprinkle salmon roe and tobiko on top and add one prawn to each serving. Drizzle with generous amounts of prawn essence oil.
9 Garnish with parsley and serve.

TUNGKU MAHMOOD OMAR, 38
Service engineer
Father of three, married for 11 years

How he got into cooking “My mum taught me how to cook, and I’ve been making prawn noodles, fried oysters and char kway teow since I was in secondary school. I also cooked burgers and pasta when I was growing up.”

What he likes to cook “I prefer to find out what people like to eat, and I’ll try to accommodate their requests.”

On his role in the kitchen “I cook about three times a week. My wife and domestic helper cook as well, but I’m usually the one preparing meals during the weekend if I’m around. My kids love my pasta.”

His tip “Don’t follow ingredient proportions in recipes too closely, but tailor them to your family’s tastebuds. When I follow proportions too closely, I find that the food is never that nice.”

Pasta Delight

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

250g linguine
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 small shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli paste (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
100g minced beef
100g canned tomato paste
50g straw mushrooms
4 fresh fishballs, diced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated
2 sprigs coriander, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS
1 Prepare the linguine according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2 Fry the garlic, shallots and chilli paste in olive oil until fragrant.
3 Add in the minced beef, fry till browned, then add the tomato paste.
4 Stir in mushrooms and fishballs, and mix until well-combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5 Pour the mixture over the linguine, top with cheese and coriander to serve.

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This article was originally published in Simply Her June 2015.