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Reuben Cooks

Travel back in time with the renowned chef of Reuben's in Franschhoek.

by: Food: Kerry Gibbs | 04 Dec 2008

"Food is time travel. It is a vehicle that has the power, through smells, tastes, colours and shapes, to take us back to another time." Reuben Riffel

Reuben Riffel of Reuben's in Franschhoek has decided to invite you into his kitchen and introduce you to his family. Read about his amazing journey from small town boy to famous chef in his new book. Now you can create wonderful food memories with Reuben cooks: Food is time travel co-written by Sue De Groot with pictures by Craig Fraser.

Reuben opted out of attending a professional training school. Therefore his recipes have been heavily influenced by childhood memories, travels around the world and his experience under brilliant mentors such as Christophe Dehosse. He doesn't believe in formulas for many of his meals, only pastry is an exact science to him.

Reuben's family is paramount in his life and career; his restaurant is definitely a family affair, his late aunt was the pastry chef, his mom is the baker, and only Franschhoek citizens work in the restaurant.

He tells us stories of his Ouma and Oupa, his uncle who kept Granny Smith apples under the floorboards and his family's travelling band, The Mascots.

The book is filled with warm recollections, such as the day the entire family of 40 went for a picnic but their bus broke down, leaving them all stranded. Eventually another bus was organised, and the family (now starving) arrived at a fishing village where they were given crayfish heads, which Reuben's mom turned into a delicious soup.

All of his memories have a meal or taste related to them and Reuben tries to parallel these happy memories and flavours in the food he creates, hoping to create new memories for his customers.

Reuben has tried to turn his family's flavour into more 'modern' dishes such as; the tandoori yellowtail with spinach and cumin dhal, cucumber relish and lemon froth, and braised pork belly with ginger–caramel sauce.

Every recipe has a memory attached to it and all the recipes have a wine recommendation. The book also includes a chapter on stocks, pastes and sauces.

Why don't you see for yourself and try Reuben's delicious Mussel and Salmon Laksa.

850ml vegetable stock
280ml coconut milk
Salt and black pepper
20 steamed, shelled mussels
400g salmon, cut into chunks
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 red bird's eye chillies, chopped (optional)
350g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
1 handful of coriander or basil or mint leaves, to garnish
Onion sprouts, to garnish

Laksa paste
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
3 stalks lemon grass
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup picked fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
6 lime leaves
1/2 cup grated palm sugar
1/2 cup Thai fish sauce
3 green chillies, chopped
3 red chillies, chopped

Heat the stock in a large saucepan. When hot, add the laksa paste. Simmer for a few minutes and add the coconut milk. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the steamed, shelled mussels and simmer for 1 minute. Add the salmon and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and chillies, if using. Bring the soup almost to boiling point, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Serve as soon as the noodles are ready. Reheat the rice vermicelli noodles, drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Moisten the noodles with a little of the soup from the seafood pot. Serve the noodles, soup and seafood in 4 large bowls, garnished with herbs and onion sprouts.

Laksa paste
Blend all the ingredients together to make a fine paste.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Why don't you also try:
Reuben's deli burger or Tagliatelli with white anchovies, fennel, raisins and pine nuts.

- None


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