Mention suckling pig in Singapore and it’ll probably conjur the image of a whole roasted pig — a special treat shared with your loved ones, and usually on days of celebration.
The hog, however, isn’t just limited to a chaotic feast. At least, not at Restaurant Gaig. The first international outpost of the Michelin-starred restaurant in Barcelona spotlights Catalan cuisine, and its executive chef, Martí Carlos Martínez, has artfully created a refreshed five-course Chef’s Menu this year.
Even though nose-to-tail gastronomy is an intrinsic part of the Spanish culture, it is, unfortunately, a waning approach there. As an ode to the nation’s heritage and to minimise waste, Chef Martí presents the Spanish suckling pig in a medley of manners in the main course.
“In Spain, we have more pigs than humans. Back in the old days, the Spanish used every single part of the pig for multiple dishes, just like how the Japanese maximised the entire tuna. So, to me, suckling pig was a natural choice to begin the new series of the chef’s menu.”
“Suckling pig is also one of the most well-known dishes in Spanish gastronomy. We hope that this popularity will help our guests relate with the menu and pique their interest in a full nose-to-tail experience of the suckling pig – including its brains!”
A duo of tail and loin is presented to guests first for the main course. On the left sits the loin, a succulent number steam-baked for more than three hours with water and lemon juice to create a tender piece, elevated by an incredibly crispy and moreish skin. By way of contrast, the deep-fried tail on the right is both gummy and crisp, and the duo is paired with mango chutney and a thick jus — crafted with butter and suckling pig’s trotters and bones.
Yet, what surprises guests most isn’t just the visuals of the aromatic pig head — confit, dried and oven-baked — that comes by. An unassuming lit candle is brought to the table, almost as though its sole purpose is to add to the mood. We find out that it’s actually lard rendered from pork fat and bacon, which melts into the plate to become a dip for bread.
This is chef Martí’s personal favourite item on the menu: “I like the pork fat candle very much. I think it’s one of the dishes I would most enjoy as a customer. If you weren’t aware of the ingredients, you would think that it’s a simple candle. It’s a delightful dish that adds fun to the dining experience and showcases the suckling pig at the same time.”
Of course, we didn’t forget about the abovementioned pig brain. The offal, isn’t found in the main course, but in a trio of snacks at the start of the meal. It’s first blanched, then glazed with suckling pig jus and finished on the salamander grill, before being plated with binchotan-grilled carabinero prawn. The result is a creamy, bouncy combination of textures all at once.
But suckling pig isn’t the only thing worth trying on the menu. Regulars of Restaurant Gaig can be assured that the traditional beef and pork cannelloni, in all its truffle cream sauce glory, makes an appearance here. The hearty 150-year-old, time-honoured dish is a signature across all of the family-owned Gaig restaurants.
The Squid ink rice and silken floral was also the most challenging for chef Martin to perfect. “It took us quite some time to achieve the final desired product. The technique requires precise balance of ingredients and exact timing so we had to go through a lengthy trial and error process. But the result is amazing and we are so pleased with it!”
A dome of Bomba rice forms the base of the dish, blanketed by a silky cuttlefish and egg white sous vide concoction dotted with edible flowers. The rice is deliciously reminiscent of the ocean, but how could it not? It is, after all, prepared in a robust blend of squid ink and a prawn head, lobster head, and rockfish broth. Peel back the satiny layer and you’ll find even more pieces of Japanese firefly squid for good measure.
After a refreshing palate cleanser of Xoriguer Mahón Gin and lemon juice, the meal rounds up with a treat of scattered white chocolate sand, goat’s milk mousse and dulce de leche glazed with guava puree. Grab your pics before the cotton candy melts and dig into sweet, sweet Catalan bliss.
Restaurant Gaig is located at 16 Stanley Street, Singapore 068735 from Mondays to Saturdays. Lunch service runs from 12 to 2pm, and dinner service runs from 6 to 10pm.
(Hero and featured image: Restaurant Gaig)
The post For the love of suckling pig, brains, and all at Restaurant Gaig appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.