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Sweet, humble onion of Cévennes, France

China Daily Hong Kong Edition | Updated: 2019-07-25 09:56



Sweet onion of Cévennes with black truffle. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The head chef of Épure in Hong Kong, located at Ocean Centre in Harbour City, since 2013 and the proud holder of a Michelin star since 2017, Nicolas Boutin sheds light on the authenticity of French products through his original, precise and tasty cuisine. It's in this spirit that he created his famed signature dish: sweet onion of Cévennes with black truffle (oignons doux des Cévennes à la truffe noire). Here, Boutin shares this recipe exclusively and for the first time with CDLP.

What is the origin of  this recipe?

Well, I wanted my cuisine to become increasingly minimalist, so I created recipes with products that are little used or misused in traditional dishes in order to sublimate them. I had been thinking of this recipe over the course of two or three years. My team and I ended up doing tests with different varieties of onions, and gradually we arrived at the result that we have today.

Three years of testing?

I had been thinking about creating a recipe based on onions, an ingredient rarely presented on its own, for a long time. During those two to three years, I took the time to test ideas, but also to take breaks from the project for it to mature. It's like this for every recipe. The process is similar to the one of a music composer or an author…

The onion is a rather commonplace vegetable – why associate it with something as high-class as truffles?

As with any vegetable, there are different varieties of each product – and this is also true for onions. We had to find an onion – and not the basic yellow onion most commonly used to make sauces or to cook. As the chef of a French restaurant, the idea was to find a variety of French onion, either Roscoff or Cévennes. After many trials, I chose the Cévennes onion. I managed to reach a certain texture that's neither overcooked nor undercooked, which retains its crunch and sweetness. The idea of the truffles came quite naturally because of the season in which I started to think about this recipe.

Which variety of truffle should one use for this dish?

You need fresh black winter melanosporum truffle – it is very important for the taste. Depending on the season, it can come from either France or Australia. We did some tests with summer and autumn truffles, but this was of no use because those truffles have little to no taste. If one cannot find fresh truffle, I suggest using frozen or canned black winter melanosporum truffles.

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