The 100RMB supermarket sweep challenge

A five star meal for four, for less than 100RMB? Easy (if you're a one of Beijing's best chefs, that is)

Ever fancied cooking yourself a haute cuisine meal, on a limited budget and skill set? Turns out you can cook a gourmet feast for less than 100RMB. We gave two of Beijing's best young chefs (okay, we'll admit that they're both incredibly skilled operators) 100RMB each and asked them to shop and prepare a show-stopping dinner for four anyone can (try to) cook at home.

The challenge

Each chef is presented with a crisp 100RMB note and escorted to their local Jinkelong supermarket. Using only the ingredients purchased in-store that day, each chef must then turn their 100RMB bounty into dinner for four.

The chefs

Talib Hudda

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Age 27
Height 5'5"
Nationality Canadian
Style Modern Mediterranean

Aniello Turco

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Age 30
Height 5'9"
Nationality Italian
Style Modern Italian

The results

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Talib's meal (clockwise from top): Braised pork hock; Squid and radish salad; Cauliflower and mushroom soup with poached egg; Potatoes and bamboo; Oranges and milk. Total cost: 98.66RMB.

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Aniello's meal (left to right): Chilli tortilla potato chips with vegetable dipping sauce; Duck leg in potato noodle ravioli; Green soup with fresh peas and roast kelp; Sweet potato, goji berries and yoghurt snow; Crumbed river fish with tomato tartare. Total cost: 99.96RMB.

The verdict

Two markedly different uses of 100RMB, two knockout dinner parties. Some interesting takeaways: both chefs used a frozen milk-based product in their desserts, and both completely belied the humble nature.

Aniello Turco’s penchant for presentation is evident even here in this needlessly restrictive exercise. It’s all dazzling, but perhaps more impressive, if harder to see, is the mileage the Neapolitan transplant was able to coax from such modest groceries – 'Zero wastage was very important for this project,' says Turco. The duck meat ravioli is a masterstroke and makes for a terrific table centerpiece.

Less formal but certainly no less impressive, Talib Hudda’s high-rustic menu is every bit as visually stunning, and will appeal to those hosting a cuddlier, sharing dinner party. The balance between fatty hock and zesty watermelon radish salad makes it near impossible to stop at a sensible point in time, and the soup, decorated like Christmas and spiked with rich broth from the hock, is a dead-set sedative.

Check out the pictures below to find out how the chefs did it, and how you can recreate the dishes at home.
Sweet potato, goji berries and yoghurt snow
1/10

Sweet potato, goji berries and yoghurt snow

Mash a sweet potato and mix it with some dried goji berries. Freeze some yoghurt and scrape off flakes to create a snow-like appearance. Accent with sweet potato crisps from the tortilla chips dish.

Green soup with fresh peas and roast kelp
2/10

Green soup with fresh peas and roast kelp

Shell the peas and combine the pods with the pulp from the vegetable dipping sauce (from the tortilla chips dish), the flesh of a winter melon and some ginger. Blend and set aside in a fancy beaker. Roast the kelp and grind it into a pesto with some olive oil. Mix in some yoghurt and fold in the raw peas. Plate up and pour over the green soup when you serve it.

Chilli tortilla and potato chips with vegetable dipping sauce
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Chilli tortilla and potato chips with vegetable dipping sauce

To make the tortilla, combine corn flour with water, roll with a rolling pin, break into chunks and fry. Cut some potato slices and fry them too. The dip calls on a combination of tomato, green pepper and ginger, which is blended and separated from the pulp (which is used in the green soup dish). Mix the blended vegetables with oil. Hollow out a winter melon and use the shell as a bowl for the tortilla chips.

Duck leg in potato noodle ravioli
4/10

Duck leg in potato noodle ravioli

Charcoal roast some duck leg meat. Strip the flesh and smash into a malleable filling. Using a slicer, cut the potato into 'spaghetti' and wrap around the duck. Season and steam.

Crumbed river fish with tomato tartare
5/10

Crumbed river fish with tomato tartare

Crumb the fish with the corn flour. Fry in oil. Decorate the plate with vegetable dipping sauce (with added chilli). We'll be honest here: this one's pretty hard to pull off at home.

Oranges and milk
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Oranges and milk

Peel and slice an orange. Mix together milk and sugar and let it marinate with a small piece of ginger. Freeze the milk and scrape shards into a bowl. Serve with the fresh orange.

Cauliflower and mushroom soup with poached egg
7/10

Cauliflower and mushroom soup with poached egg

Roast a cauliflower and some onions. Pureé it and add some milk, and spike it with the broth from the pork hock (though this isn't necessary if you're not making the hock dish). Poach an egg and place it so it floats in the centre of the soup. Garnish with sliced raw cauliflower, roast crimini mushrooms, a seared king oyster mushroom and some finely chopped raw cauliflower.

Potato and bamboo salad
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Potato and bamboo salad

Sautée some bamboo with chopped garlic. Boil potatoes until tender. Sautée it all together with seasoning.

Squid and watermelon radish salad
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Squid and watermelon radish salad

Spiralise a watermelon radish by whatever means available – a peeler will suffice. Fry pieces of squid, chop some onion shoots and Chinese green pepper and dress it all together with lemon juice and olive oil.

Braised pork hock
10/10

Braised pork hock

Grill the outside of the hock. Next, if you have a pressure cooker, pressure cook the hock. If not, slow cook it in a pot in the oven – or a slow cooker – for hours and hours. Take the hock out and grill it for some final caramelisation, using the liquid and some chopped chives as a glaze.

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