Practiced for ages, steaming is gentle, retains moisture in foods and great for health. Food is cooked using the steam resulting from a simmering liquid and as food does not come in contact with the heat source, it is protected from drying out.
Traditional steaming technique is well known but at Patin Place, it is taken to a new level. Firstly, Patin, also known as catfish, is a river fish popular amongst Malaysians. It is versatile and can be deep fried, grilled or steamed. At Patin Place, there is steam doing the cooking yet without the liquid factor and the proprietor calls it “dry-steam” as there wasn’t an official term for such a cooking method. It was inspired by a similar oven at his friend’s home in Australia which was able to bake a pizza in 1 minute! A feature that cannot be found in commercial ovens, Mr Jerry Ng thus set out to build his own “ancient brick oven”, with instructions from his friend and working with local and foreign engineers; despite being scoffed at by his peers who questioned his reason for such effort when numerous sophisticated options are available.
Instead of liquid producing steam, the oven utilises charcoal for the heat and the recirculation of air within the chamber means there is no need to turn the food to achieve even cooking; compared to steaming which easily wrinkles the skin of the fish and has a possibility of the outer part being drier than the inner part. The chamber is built to retain
heat, creating a cyclical (circulated) heat flow within the oven at a constant temperature to steam and smoke the Patin fish. As for charcoal, it is always associated with smokiness and lingering smells on clothing and he and his business partner, Lynda Lee took a leaf from the Japanese and Koreans who have indoor barbeques, without the usual aftermath. Such charcoal is smokeless, odourless and chemical-free, making it ideal for confined spaces, comfort dining and health. Each hexagonal piece lasts up to 4 hours and can reach up to 600-800°C, and the symmetrical shape of the charcoal ensures an even burn. At the moment, the culinary team, headed by Lynda, is also
experimenting on how to use the residual heat from the charcoal for overnight cooking. Proof that the ancient brick oven is different comes in form of the smoked Patin where the skin is easily separated from the flesh and improvised into a deep fried snack. In an ordinary oven or open grill, unless one is meticulous, separating skin from flesh is not an easy or tidy task.
MORE TO PATIN PLACE THAN ITS OVEN
In terms of cooking equipment, they hit a right note and hold the honour of having the only oven as such in Malaysia. The affable entrepreneur, with
20 plus years of experience in various businesses, coupled with a hobby for trying new foods and recreating them, also sees Patin Place as a spot that hopefully, represents ‘Malaysia’. With a tagline of “my kampung food”, and both him and Lynda hailing from Pahang; home of patin and tempoyak patin being a regular household feature, it was natural for them to offer this delicacy as they worked on the idea of running a restaurant. Plus, they saw opportunity to provide diners to discover more with Malay cuisine as the Chinese cuisine market is already saturated and has a strong following.
Tempoyak is fermented durian and the paste coats the patin fish before it is wrapped in banana and turmeric leaves to seal in juices, add flavour and cooked for 12 minutes in the oven. He opines that tempoyak is not given due credit and that it is actually a health food, high in probiotics but durian carries a negative perception of being fattening and high in cholestrol. Pleasantly pungent with a sweet and sour tinge, it is an acquired taste but Patin Place has attracted customers all over Klang Valley to its location in Puchong Utama; albeit the distance.
Less than 2 years old, it is inching its way into the hearts of tempoyak lovers and garnering new fans. As for the future, the proprietors are
looking to open Patin Place on a smaller scale, making their well-loved items more accessible in various locations. There are people who have
also expressed interest in buying the oven but they prefer to explore its possibilities on their own, to continue bringing their hometown’s tradition to greater heights and appreciation; through authentic recipes, executed with unconventional methods.
Patin Place • 31, Jalan Bandar Puchong Utama 5, Bandar Puchong Utama • Tel: +6 016-208 9012