Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Food

蒜泥白肉 Szechuan Pork Belly with Spicy Garlic Sauce

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Mondays are usually “reserved” for unwinding after the weekend kueh making frenzy. Some “me time” to do some gardening, whip up some of my favorite dishes (I am a creature of comfort) while some keyboard music like Bach’s Goldberg variations or 古琴 tunes like 潇湘水云 or 渔樵问答 play in the background. Yesterday was Cho Seong Jin’s Debussy “Suite Bergamasque” (yes where the famous “Claire de Lune” came from) while I dig in some 蒜泥白肉, 番茄滑蛋 and homegrown sweet potato leaves and sambal udang kering stir fry. Eclectic yet sublime…

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Hyderabad Style Mutton Biryani

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Biryani or “Briyani” as it is being pronounced by some folks here in Singapore, is what I looked forward to enjoy on Fridays as it was offered only on this day in the past. Nowadays many hawker stalls have it on their daily menu. It is synonymously associated with the Indian Muslim food stalls here in Singapore alongside Roti Prata or “Indian Rojak”, where the mutton curry and the basmati rice are cooked separately though the traditional way of preparing this dish in India and parts of Middle East is to have them cooked together. Here’s my take of this very traditional dish from my very own kitchen…
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冰花煎饺 – 羽根つき餃子 Hanetsuki Gyoza

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I had some time after completing my nyonya kueh orders yesterday morning and quickly went to the wet market near my place to get some ingredients to make some 饺子 which I have been craving for some time now. Depending on where you are from, they may be called Chinese dumplings which is the generic name given to a lot of Chinese dishes where some filling is wrapped with an outer layer. Think 粽子, 云吞, 馄饨,蛋饺, 燕饺, 汤圆, 丸子, 元宵 are all called “Chinese dumplings”!!! These which I made yesterday were first lightly pan-fried before being steamed in a starch slurry hence lending to their name 煎饺 or 锅贴 in Chinese. The starch slurry crisps up as it dries up to for a uber thin lacy layer which resembles the crystalline structures of snowflakes thus giving them the name 冰花煎饺. The Japanese version is called 羽根つき餃子 Hanetsuki Gyoza cos of their feather-like appeal likening gyozas with wings!
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谭鱼头 Tanyoto Restaurant @ Liang Court Singapore

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We love steamboat be it Japanese shabu shabu and sukiyaki style, or more Chinese versions with collagen broth. So a while ago when I chanced upon a lunch buffet for 2 promo for szechuan mala steamboat at 谭鱼头 Tanyoto Restaurant on one of our local restaurant reservation apps, I wasted no time to book a seating for both of us.

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Uchouten @ Minami Ikebukuro, Tokyo

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We flew in on a red-eye flight and arrived at Narita and managed to check in rather early in the morning at our apartment at Ikebukuro on our recent trip to Tokyo last month, and thought we could swing by Mutekiya for a quick ramen fix before getting on with our itinerary planned for the day. Despite being an hour early to the usual lunch peak hour, the queue outside the famed ramen shop just a stone’s throw away from Seibu Ikebukuro had already developed with more than 20 diners, mostly visitors to the metropolitan like us waiting to be ushered into the shop. Not wanting to waste time since we’d already had Mutekiya on several occasions and blogged about it before, we decided to look into the other recommendations I’d jotted on our dining list and this was when Uchouten came to mind. It is a 洋食屋 which we had wanted to visit since our last trip back to Tokyo and it seems like the perfect opportunity to do so now..
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Patisserie Aigre Douce エーグル・ドゥース @ Tokyo

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From my observations, the Japanese line of patissiers and patissieres can be broadly divided into two categories. There are those who innovate and improvise, bringing together familiar “oriental” elements be it in ingredients or technique with the art of French pastry making, adapting to bring forth and open up greater possibilities and potentials yet at the same time making the creations more “acceptable” and attuned to the palates and taste buds of the local crowd. Then there are those who choose to stay firm and close to ground zero, bringing what they have learnt and absorbed from their years of apprenticeship in France back to Japan and introduce to the home audience the very essence of French pastry making in an utmost unbashful and unadulterated manner.  Both have their loyal fans and followers, and both must be commended for their efforts to scale greater heights and also preserve the pertinent traditions and methods that define the very soul of pastry arts. From what I see, Chef Norihiko Terai 寺井則彦 of Patisserie Francaise Aigre Douce エーグル・ドゥース belongs to the latter…
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Roast @ EmQuartier Bangkok

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Our last day in Bangkok and we found ourselves taking the BTS down to Phrom Phong to one of our favorite malls in this city, EmQuartier just to walk around and have a quick meal before going back to our hotel to checkout. We like the moods in these new malls which have popped up along the main Sukhumvit line vis a vis the old dames like MBK and Platinum Mall. We’d tried Vanilla Cafeteria during our last trip and thus decided to pick another cafe, Roast to venture this time round.

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紅包 Hong Bao @ Central Embassy Bangkok

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Whenever one thinks of eating in Bangkok, the widespread availability of street food options immediately comes to mind, with some local eateries or hawkers peddling from their pushcarts selling a generous assortment of yummy dishes and snacks in practically every street corner or down every sol and thanon that run alongside the busy Sukhumvit Road. Our recent trip to Bangkok however, also allowed us to sample other kinds of food that may not come to mind when one visits the Land of Smiles, and here is one of our favorites.
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Tarte au Citron et Fraise

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A less busy week with fewer kueh orders means more time to play and practice on pastry making. I return to play with french tarts this week, after one round of mixed fruit tarts last week. It is tarte aux citron et fraise frais this time round…
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On the Trail of the Phoenix – Laksa Lemak…A Revisit

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There are certain types of food that we constantly revisit and never get tired of eating. These are usually not those delivered with Michelin star restaurant levels of precision but of flavours or aromas that remind of childhood. These are the kinda food that forge such a strong bond with us and/or are associated with some vivid and powerful memories so much so that a taste of those familiar flavours from those bygone years would instantly sweep us back in time and make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. For me, laksa lemak is one such dish.

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Ohana Pasta Poké Bowl

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Our local gastronomic scene seems to have been taken by storm with a new wave of “inventive” and somewhat “avant garde” kinda culinary styles where anything goes as long as it looks really appetising, tastes pretty good, seemingly healthy and most importantly, Instagram worthy. I don’t dig most of these “experimental” culinary concepts well but I must say some of them are really quite delicious, so much so that I would go through the trouble of garnering all of my favorite ingredients to make a portion at home just to satiate a craving. The poké bowl is one such recent craze.
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Porridge Postulations – Part 2 清粥小菜 – 第二篇

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The weather was crazy hot today but still I need to make a trip to Geylang Serai market for my weekly replenishing of provisions. I had wanted to get my nasi ambeng fix while I was there but as I was strolling along the aisles of the stalls selling fresh seafood, I saw some really lovely stingray and batang roe sacs. So a quick change of plans to come home to whip up something really fast. Unleashing the not-so-little-teochew in me to cook a small spread of dishes with the fresh produce to go with teochew porridge. Perfect for the weather I thought as it would help to sweat it out a bit and hopefully help provide some temporal relief to the excruciating heat…
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川味炸酱面 Szechuan style Zhajiang Mian

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Tuesday homecooked lunch – 川味炸酱面 Szechuan style Zhajiang Mian. Many of us are accustomed to eating the 老北京炸酱面 Beijing version of Zhajiang Mian or better known as 京酱面 or even the Korean “Jajangmyeon” but not many might have tried the Szechuan version of this noodle dish which one ironically, may not be able to find in Sichuan China itself! This is only because it is an improvisation of the original form, cooked and sold by the KMT soldiers and their families from Sichuan who retreated with Chiang Kai Shek in the mass exodus from Mainland China to Taiwan in 1949.
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On the Trail of the Phoenix – Jiu Hu Char… A Revisit

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Yesterday was Cheng Beng, traditionally a day when prayers would be made to our ancestors. Some folks would take the opportunity to visit and pay their respects at the graves of those who have passed on, a custom which is known as “teh chuah“. Those who “piara abu” i.e. house ancestral tablets at home may also prepare offerings of food and welcome their “nenek moyang” for a feast. And that was what I did. Traditionally, chap chye is one of the staple dishes  prepared in our home for ancestral worship but this year I’d decided to go for something similar yet different, and cooked Jiu Hu Char instead.
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鱼香茄子 Szechuan Style Spicy Brinjal

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鱼香茄子 Szechuan Style Spicy Brinjal is a classic dish from one of the 8 main cooking styles representative of Szechuan cuisine, which also include 麻辣,宫保 etc. There are several sources to how the name came about. One mentions the use of a range of ingredients like spicy soya bean paste, garlic, chilies, ginger and spring onion etc to create the sauce which was used traditionally for braising fish. In those days, fish was not a common dish on the daily dining table and only available during important festive occasions when the family pay their respects to the deities or ancestors was when fish was offered and the family got to eat. For everyday meals, cheaper vegetable alternatives often grown in their own fields like brinjal wer used instead…

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鸡精蒸滑鸡腿 Steamed Chicken Thigh with Essence of Chicken

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A good friend recently gave birth so when some friends and I visited her last week in the hospital, I thought of cooking her something which is simple yet nourishing at the same time. Remembered I still have some bottles of essence of chicken at home so a quick trip to the market in the morning to get some fresh chicken thighs to go along with some chinese herbs and dry ingredients I already have at home for a fix of 鸡精蒸滑鸡腿 Steamed Chicken Thighs with Essence of Chicken.
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八珍杜仲滋阴乌骨鸡汤 Herbal Silkie Chicken Soup and 马蹄腊肠蒸肉饼 Steamed Minced Pork Patty

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The whole week has been rather chilly in tropical Singapore with temperatures dipping to a low of 21-22°C a couple of days back. A rare sight to see everyone going around in jumpers and light jackets. It is the perfect time for herbal tonic soups as well. In the past, my mum used to stock quite a bit of dried Chinese herbs at home for soup making but nowadays, they are easily available in prepacked “concoction packets” where one just needs to buy one which is suitable for one’s needs and constitution to brew. And that was exactly what I did.
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Teochew Kana Chye Pasta

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I stayed in hostel during some years of my Uni and NIE PGDE years in NUS and then NTU. Those were the fun and crazy years, away from home with lots of me time. Perched on the Kent Ridge hilltop, staying in KEVII Hall isn’t the most convenient of all places to be. Yes the canteen provided meals of course but as we all know, hostel food sucks so sometimes we would eat out, either NUH canteen just down that treacherous and scary flight of steps down the hill, taking a bus to Clementi central or finding our way the other side of the campus where Fong Seng Nasi Lemak is. Nowhere remotely near to being the best nasi lemak around but that would have to do. But some days ended really late, with lab sessions that stretched all the way past sunset or rehearsals and sessional practices. It helped to stock up some “supplies”, usually canned food of course since we are not allowed had to pay more rent to keep a mini bar fridge in our rooms. Campbells was my best friend then, good with instant noodles as a “cheat meal” for “creamy pasta”. Then there are the familiar Asian flavours of course, pickled chye sim stems in soya sauce, fermented beancurd cubes, and of course a good old bottle of kana chye to go with Teochew porridge cooked in the common pantry, when the cylinder gas hadn’t been completed exhausted by my PRC hostel mates that is! So simple yet so so gratifying. On some days, when I decided to get experimental, weird concoctions and adventurous sounding dishes were derived,  usually out of hungry desperation truth be told, usually when some ingredients ran out, thus the need to put whatever’s available together.  In retrospect, the creations then which folks now cleverly call “fusion dishes”  looked more like a case of “confusion”. But it was fun nonetheless and Teochew Kana Chye Pasta was probably “invented” under such circumstances…

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冷やし中華 Hiyashi Chuka

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冷やし中華 Hiyashi Chuka literally meaning “chilled Chinese” is a popular Japanese noodle dish which is normally enjoyed during the summer months. Well, we don’t have distinct seasons in Singapore so all the more better as that meant we get to enjoy it all year round!
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Thịt Heo Nướng Xả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops with Rice Noodles

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I am gonna be brutally honest here. I am not at all that familiar with Indochinese cuisines. Despite being in the big ASEAN family, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes still largely fall within the “exotics” category for my palate. Hardly an excuse really, given the proximity but fact is I do not eat these foods as often as I could or should, despite there being quite a few good Vietnamese eateries around Singapore, especially in my all-too-familiar Joo Chiat area just a stone’s throw away from my favorite wet market at Geylang Serai. I love Pho Bo and have an affinity for Bahn Mi and Bahn Xeo but apart from these two dishes, my next to-go-to Vietnamese dish to order whenever I am dining in a local viet deli would be Thit Heo Nuong Xa Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops with Rice Noodles. Love the smokey and lightly charred aromas of the grilled pork chops against the assortment of crunchy and refreshing greens. And here’s my take of this popular yet healthy dish.  (more…)


麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto @ Erawan Bangkok

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Singapoeans love to visit Bangkok for authentic Thai massage, a truly ‘shop till you drop’ kinda experience and of course good and cheap Thai food but with the influx of numerous Japanese and Korean food joints into the Thai capital over the last couple of years, the options have now opened beyond just that wicked bowl of tom yum goong or collagen-packed plate of khao kha moo. In our recent trip to Bangkok, we visited 麺屋 一燈 Menya Itto and here’s why you should too!

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Patisserie Paris Mikki Asok @ Bangkok

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Whenever we are on holidays, we make it a point to visit some of the local pastry joints to have a feel of what the local pastry scene is like and our recent trip to Bangkok is no different. Our last trip to the capital of the Land of Smiles was exactly two years back and boy have things changed. Much of the local dessert scene had been completed taken over by the makes of Japan and Korea with bingsus and kakigoris rapidly gaining popularity and finding themselves in perpetually every mall along the main shopping belt in Bangkok. Yet there are some who continued to stay true to their grounds and stuck to the traditions and basics, to which we are very glad for, and Patisserie Paris Mikki is one of those increasingly rare few.
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On the Trail of a Phoenix – Nasi Ulam

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Nasi Ulam, or pronounced as “nasik ulam” in Baba Malay is a classic Peranakan dish which has its roots in Southeast Asian cooking. Comprising of essentially a variety of chiffonaded herbs tossed in steamed fragrant rice, it is painstaking to prepare and thus usually served on “ari besair” during weddings, birthdays or other celebratory events.

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On the Trail of the Phoenix – Laok Bunga Durian

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I’d not updated the “On the Trail of the Phoenix” series on this blog for quite some time now so perhaps it is a timely reminder. I was really fortunate and beyond happy to receive a big bag of durian blossoms from a friend’s tree. Truly a blessing of the season as it only occurs for a really short period of time each year between the flowers blooming to those which would fall if they were not pollinated by bats and bees. With these blossoms, I’d whipped up two traditional dishes to enjoy them as quickly as possible, the truly Peranakan way…
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