Star chef Sarah Henke: She likes to bring her “homeland to the plate”

Star chef Sarah Henke: She likes to bring her “homeland to the plate”
Star chef Sarah Henke: She likes to bring her “homeland to the plate”

She combines Korean roots with German cuisine: For star chef Sarah Henke, spiciness and Asian spices are a must when cooking.

Between classic fried potatoes and aromatic kimchi: Michelin-star chef Sarah Henke (42) always combines her Korean roots with German cuisine when cooking. The “ZDF Kitchen Battle” juror likes to pass on her culinary knowledge to others. One person who recently benefited from this is “GZSZ” actor and amateur chef Felix von Jascheroff (41).

On June 24, the two Kia brand ambassadors were in the kitchen of Henke’s recently opened gourmet restaurant Lemabri in Boppard-Buchholz as part of a cooking event for the new electric SUV Kia EV9. On site, the head chef reveals what no Korean dish should be without and how her husband, star chef Christian Eckhardt (41), adds French influence to her restaurant.

You are originally from South Korea. How important is it to you to integrate your Korean roots into your cooking?

Sarah Henke: It’s wonderful that I can integrate my Korean roots into my cooking. Unfortunately, I don’t go to Korea very often, so I can bring a little bit of home to the plate. Our guests love Korean food. And it’s just great to reach lots of people with it and show them what great flavors this cuisine has to offer.

What ingredients are typical and obligatory for Korean dishes?

Henke: Definitely: Gochujang, the Korean pepper paste. It is a must as it provides a wonderful spiciness and flavor. Many families even have their own recipe for it. Gochujang is also the main ingredient in the production of kimchi, the traditionally fermented Chinese cabbage – an absolute must in Korean cuisine.

What characterizes Korean cuisine?

Henke: For me it is clearly the spiciness of the dishes, but also the conviviality of eating together. Banchan, or side dishes, are passed around the table in many small bowls with most meals – this automatically creates communication. The Korean BBQ is a very good example of this: people sit around a table grill and share the food with each other. Another plus point is the widely used and often fermented vegetables, which contribute to a healthy diet.

Can everyone cook Korean or do you need to have a certain amount of experience?

Henke: I think that, as with any country’s cuisine, it requires openness and courage above all. A certain curiosity and the desire to try out new things are part of it, as is the initial effort to not be sparing with spices. A certain amount of experience with the basics of cooking is of course always an advantage. But even as a novice cook, nothing can really go wrong if you approach Korean cuisine with interest and openness.

You are known for your Asian cuisine, your husband Christian Eckhardt excels in your restaurant Lemabri with French influences. Your restaurant is located in Germany. Korean, French, German – how do you manage to combine all of these culinary elements?

Henke: We have opted for a sharing concept and offer many dishes in regular portions as well as in smaller portions to share and try out. Everything is simply placed in the middle, which gives guests a varied selection of different cuisines. Christian and I are big fans of the concept of offering lots of great little things to try and taking our visitors on a culinary journey, so to speak.

Which of the three cuisines do you prefer?

Henke: I am definitely a fan of Korean flavors!

Which German dish do you particularly like? And which do you not like at all?

Henke: Offal is not one of my favorites… Instead, I love Finkenwerder plaice with fried potatoes.

Do you think it is possible to combine German and Korean cuisine?

Henke: Definitely! If only because not all Korean foods are available here in Germany. That’s why I often use other local vegetables, which I then season with Korean marinades, or have to use other cuts of beef for BBQ.

What has ever really gone wrong for you when cooking?

Henke: I remember that when I switched from gas to induction, a dish really burned. It had to be cooked again (laughs).

What do you like to cook at home?

Henke: I prefer to have my husband Christian cook for me (laughs). When I cook myself, it has to be tasty for our little son too. So Mie noodles with vegetables, egg and seasoned with a little soy sauce and sesame oil are always a good choice. Because I personally like it spicier, I always season my portion with a pinch of chili.

Source: Stern

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