master chef

How Fanty Soenardy Finds Comfort In Food

What does Fanty Soenardy love next to fashion? Feeding her family and friends with well-loved recipes that she whips up in her kitchen.

How Fanty Soenardy Finds Comfort In Food
Fanty doesn't just love cooking — she loves feeding her family and loved ones with the goodies she makes.Photography Matthew Teo

“I’m lucky my mum passes me recipes she has perfected after rounds of trial and error,” says Fanty. “Among my mum’s five children, I can say I’m the most talented in cooking and she’d agree! I always succeed with her recipes on my first attempt. I even try to improve on some of the dishes by exploring new methods and ingredients, while my mum sticks to tradition.

It gives me such pride and pleasure to add my own spin. In the process, my kitchen has become my sanctuary.”

“I enjoy bird’s nest with almond cream and cook it at home. I make my own almond cream using both Northern and Southern almonds soaked overnight to make it more delicious. To thicken it, I add in Japanese rice, after which I sieve it to attain that smooth creamy texture. I love bird’s nest so I’d include double portions of bird’s nest to have more of it in a bowl.

This was also the dessert I contributed to A Magazine’s Food for Your Soul charity food sale for Beyond Social Services. When I have guests at home, I like to add a gold leaf on top since it’s a popular finishing touch these days — even for kueh salat! In cooking, as in fashion, which I also love, we have to keep up with trends in presentation too.”

“Beef rendang is one of my proudest dishes because all my friends who have tasted it have gone ‘wow’! The secret ingredient to my beef rendang is wagyu beef cheek. The meat is fork-tender after two hours of stewing, yet still slightly chewy.

To add layers of flavours to this dish, I use a combination of different ingredients — daun salam (bay leaf), daun sereh (lemongrass), daun kunyit (turmeric), daun jeruk (kaffir lime) and lengkuas (galanga). And to adjust the taste to my family’s preferences, I build the dish from scratch, starting with the chilli.”

“Two of my favourite traditional snacks are kroket and ongol ongol — a sweet Indonesian snack with a bouncy texture similar to mochi. The kroket is our Indonesian version of croquette. I have a special technique to mix the potato so that the texture is smooth and moist within the crispy biscuit crumbs, and I give it a filling of finely diced minced pork, shiitake mushrooms and onions.

For the ongol ongol, I use tapioca flour I buy from Indonesia to achieve a very soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. To give it an earthy sweet taste that is not jelak (cloying), I use gula jawa.”

This story first appeared in the September 2020 issue of A Magazine.

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