Live-Cook Channel challenges home cooking skills: making Chef Reuben Riffel’s Pan-roasted prawns and hake!



During earlier Levels of Lockdown last year I was invited to participate in the Live-Cook Channel cook-alongs, starting with none less than Chef Luke Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen. I had the assistance of my MasterChick Jenny Stephens at my side, and she did most of the cooking and I made notes, poured the wine, and took photographs. This was to become our pattern in three such Live-Cook Channel challenges. Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to do the cooking of Chef Reuben Riffel’s Pan-roasted prawns and hake on my own, making it a real hands-on experience.

It was a nerve-wracking experience in preparing it on my own, but I am proud of the end-result.

Last week Kim Crowie representing Live-Cook Channel sent me the invitation, and I was delighted to be connected with Chef Reuben,  having eaten at his restaurant  in Franschhoek numerous times when it first opened. I did not look at the dish description too much, but I should already have been intimidated by the prawns in the dish, something I have never prepared before.

What makes the Live-Cook Channel monthly chef-guided cook-alongs so good is that a box of ingredients required for the cook-along is delivered by Daily Dish to one’s home on the day, in portions for two or four persons, depending on which one orders. The ingredients are well packed, and kept cool inside the box. The box contains the recipe card too. Unfortunately the delivery was the latest it has been compared to the other three occasions, after my lunch-time departure from home for the rest of the afternoon, so I had to ask a friend to receive the delivery and place the cream, prawns, and fish in my fridge. I therefore had no time to pre-prepare for this event, arriving at home ten minutes before the early cooking start of 18h00, too early for dinner time cooking I felt yesterday. Kim subsequently explained that the demand for the program was so high that it affected the ingredient delivery time.

The box of ingredients included the following: Marvello butter flavour from RCL Food Partners (I thought it was intended to go into the dish, surprised that a chef would cook with non-dairy butter, but discovered that it was intended as a gift as I wrote this story, one having had to use one’s own butter), a box of Argentinian prawns and Cape hake from Pescaluna, Cream from Parmalat, as well as two further gifts, not intended for the cooking: a bottle of Absolute Zero alcohol-free sparkling wine by Van Loveren, and a box of Sally Williams nougat. But there was far more in the magic box: a plastic sachet of unbranded white wine, a sachet of Pernod, fennel seeds, fresh fennel, Jalapeño chilis, cloves of garlic, limes, Barilla linguine pasta, Italian parsley, smoked paprika, and Parmesan.

I had a problem finding the link for the Live-Cook Channel in all the emails received, and was therefore really on my own in just following the recipe card instructions, which was not too difficult after all. But I did panic a little, especially at the fish and prawn stage. I found the link while writing the story, having printed out the pre-program instructions, but important notes were typed in colour, and did not print legibly by my printer.

The first step of the cooking process was to prepare the sauce, starting with the white wine and fennel seeds, having to reduce by half. Then the cream was added and had to reduce until thickened, I not being very successful in this step. Then I added the Pernod, letting it cook for 6 minutes on medium heat, whisked in the butter (having been intended to be dairy butter), then seasoned with salt and pepper, and the fennel fronds added. Easy to do. Step 2 was cooking the pasta, easy as …. pasta.

But then my heart started pounding when I had to follow the instructions of how to butterfly the prawns, and remove the black intestine. I’m not sure if I was delivered them intestine-less, as I found it hard to see them! As we were not told that we would have to supply flour, I didn’t have any in the house, so I just fried the hake in olive oil without first dusting it with flour, two minutes per side, adding cold butter once turned. Luckily by then I used my own butter, as was intended but not communicated. The prawns were added to the pan with the hake, already quite full, and cooked for one minute each side.

As I am not a fan of garlic and chili, I did not make another sauce with olive oil, chopped garlic, and the chili. To this one had to add the lime zest and juice, and parsley, and fold all of it into the pasta. I felt that the Fennel Crème sauce was fragrant enough to not be dominated by the chili and garlic in the second sauce. I did sprinkle the chopped parsley to finish off my dish.

In following my Recipe card meticulously, I was able to prepare a dish I am proud of, but the camaraderie of a friend in the kitchen and connecting with Chefs Reuben and Pete Goffe-Wood online would have made it an even more fun experience.

Next month, on 24 March,  Chef George Jardine will cook Seared Beef Sirloin and charred Aubergine. Chef Charné Sampson of Epice will lead the cook-along on 21 April, and Chef Liam Tomlin on 19 May.  Book at or

Live-Cook Channel, 4 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town.  Cell 066 486 5262. Facebook: Live Cook Channel Instagram @livecookchannel


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide


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