Food + Drink

How to pair Hendrick’s Gin with food, according to Chef YC of Terra Dining

Let the fun be(gin)


By Amanda Fung

How to pair Hendrick’s Gin with food, according to Chef YC of Terra Dining

During the recent Kuala Lumpur Cocktail Week, the city was booming with masterclasses, pairing dinners, guest shifts, and more—all centred around the art of tipples. Among the exciting collaborative meals on its schedule was a partnership between Terra Dining and Three X Co., forged through a love for Hendrick’s Gin. Chef Chong Yu Cheng (AKA Chef YC) and master bartender Amanda Wan worked together to create a bespoke menu that showcased the unorthodox pairing between gin and modern Malaysian cuisine. We spoke to Chef YC about how to pair Hendrick’s Gin with food and how he and Wan expertly combined their creations.



BURO Malaysia, how to pair Hendrick's Gin with food

It’s no secret that cucumbers and gin go exceedingly well together. YC and Wan took this combination up a notch by adding some spice (literally) into the mix during their pairing dinner. When curry is paired with gin, the heat is balanced out with the refreshing notes from the gin and made even better with a tonic. 

Chef YC and Wan worked with this knowledge to create their Indian-inspired pairing. The team from Terra Dining presented a curry croquette with tomato chutney, Thai basil palak, and Tahai (East Malaysian smoked fish) aioli. To go with this flavourful dish, Wan created a cocktail of Hendrick’s Gin, pineapple sous-vide onion, yuzu tonic, yoghurt foam, Sarawak black pepper, and cucumber. 

“The punchy flavours from the garam masala in the croquette, aromatics from the long peppers in the chutney, and the smokiness from Tahai are all countered and cooled by the refreshing cucumber and yoghurt,” explains YC. “It plays with the juxtaposition between hot and cold, rich and light, as well as spicy and cooling.”



BURO Malaysia, how to pair Hendrick's Gin with food

Simply put, any seafood goes well with gin. The crisp and refreshing nature of the spirit balances out the richness of the seafood. To be more specific, the salty and herby nature of ceviches and other smoked fish dishes—think gravlax—tend to blend particularly well with the aromatics in gin. Chef YC went the philosophical route with his ceviche and cocktail pairing too, embracing the importance of timing when it comes to cooking and mixology. 

One of the courses in the Terra Dining x Three X Co. meal comprised a Japanese mackerel ceviche with fermented capsicum and spring onion oil. This light and tangy dish was accompanied by a cocktail made with Hendrick’s Gin, sugar cane, purple potato shrub, soda, peated whisky, and smoked salt mist. 

“From curing the fish to fermenting the capsicum just the right amount, this pairing is all about catching the elements at the perfect time,” elaborates YC. “The window of perfection here, even with the peated whisky and smoked salt mist, is very brief.”



BURO Malaysia, how to pair Hendrick's Gin with food

Though usually paired with a glass of pinot noir, duck is an unassuming contender for foods to pair with fin. When seasoned or marinated right, most meats tend to go well with the spirit as it cuts through the savoury nature of the dish. The herbal notes of gin can actually help enhance the flavours of the duck.

For his pairing, YC prepared a dish of aged duck breast, cooked masak hitam style and served with duck rice, shiitake mushrooms, serunding, and ginger. The heat of the ginger also acts as an ideal complement to the body and floral notes in the gin. As for the cocktail pairing, Wan concocted a mix of Hendrick’s Gin, mezcal, coconut water syrup, Amontillado sherry, saline solution, Creole bitters, and sweet basil cocoons. 

“We brined the duck breast in a soy sauce solution then dry-aged, giving it a rich, sweet, and umami aroma. Meanwhile, the masak hitam is fortified with toasted coconut that is mirrored in the cocktail as coconut water syrup,” shares YC. “The braised duck rice with serunding is incredibly savoury, so it gets cut by the herbal complexity of the Amontillado sherry and Creole bitters. Light on the body but packing a mean punch with herbal overtones, the cocktail proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.”



BURO Malaysia, how to pair Hendrick's Gin with food

A chilly gin and tonic is always a great accompaniment to a cheese and charcuterie board. The herby and slight fruitiness from the gin swiftly cut through the richness of the dairy in cheese. This includes the stronger varieties such as Manchego or goat cheese. 

On YC and Wan’s menu, the two experts decided to pair Hendrick’s Gin with a Nyonya twist for the dessert course. For the dish, YC combines Beras Rumie ice cream with cincalok caramel, cheese foam, and Haw flakes—all of which combine for a sweet and salty delight. Wan’s tipple blends an oolong tea-infused Hendrick’s gin with clarified pineapple shrub, and brown rice sorghum. 

“The rice, pineapple, and cincalok make for a symphony of Nyonya flavours. Chasing the incredibly umami caramel and cheese foam with the cold, crisp cocktail with its jammy sweetness takes your palate to a new high,” says YC. “The oolong then cleanses your palate before your next spoonful of dessert. It’s like a roller coaster ride to end your meal.”



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