Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Simple Eats

炒粿條 Char Kway Teow

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Among the numerous popular hawker favorites, char kway teow has a special place in the hearts of many. It is a traditional fried noodle dish whipped up by street hawkers who gathered at the now-demolished Ellenborough Market just across Clarke Quay along Singapore River. The area was also a well known enclave of the early Teochew settlers who knew this place as tsah tsun tau 柴船头, owing to the provision of fuel-related goods like firewood, charcoal and kerosene in this area. At night, some of these hawkers take to the nearby old Thong Chai Medical Institution 同济医院  for the supper crowd who flocked here after a session of tua hee 大戏 aka Chinese wayang opera nearby or a movie produced by Cathay Organisation at Majestic cinema just a short stretch down Eu Tong Sen Road. But as peddling of street food waned in the 1980s as it became outlawed, gone were the days when these illegal hawkers had to scurry and run away from the health inspectors, colloquially known as 地牛 “tee gu“. Together with the establishment of hawker centres around the island, local delights like char kway teow spread to the heartlands and became everyone’s favorite as well.

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鮮蝦水餃湯麵 Shrimp Dumpling Soup Noodles

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I used to live along Upper Serangoon Road near the old Lim Tua Tow Market where there was lots of good and cheap hawker food around. Those were the days when our area were the only HDB blocks around and the vicinity was just nothing but a Teochew cemetery. Serangoon Central came later and NEX Shopping Mall didn’t even appear until 20 years had passed. The crocodile farm was still around and Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre was not a ghost town like today. Down my old block there used to be quite a good wanton mee stall, operated single-handedly by a middle-aged lady whom we refer to as the “wanton mee auntie”. Our favorites were her 鳳爪麵 “fung zau meen” with succulently braised chicken feet, that my mother forbade us from enjoying as it was believed that eating chicken feet during one’s pre-pubescent years can result in trembling hands and thus ugly handwriting.  We ate nonetheless, secretly buying from the “wanton mee auntie” of course, telling her they were for my mum! So yummy! How to resist!? For us, wanton mee auntie’s 鮮蝦水餃 sin har shuei gau was something special as well. It was a time when 1.50 can get you a bowl of springy egg noodles in yummy soup along with three plump shuei gau and an additional 50 cents can get you two more. Long gone are the days of cheap and affordable hawker food of course, and long gone are the days of authentically cooked hawker food as well…
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柱侯蘿蔔焖牛腩 Braised Beef and Radish in Chu Hou Sauce – a Revisit

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While many bloggers strive to continually blog on new recipes, sometimes rolling out dishes which they’d tried only on the first attempt, I find myself constantly revisiting my old recipes in hope to find ways to refine them, be it to suggest alternatives for ingredients, or perhaps to streamline the workflow of the recipe to make things work better. Just yesterday, I revisited a dish which I’d cooked many times over the course of the last few years. It is definitely one of my all-time favorites,柱侯蘿蔔焖牛腩 Braised Beef and Radish in Chu Hou Sauce
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Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant @ Melaka

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There are lots of interesting eating places in Melaka apart from those that serve Peranakan cuisine. Like the Chinese braised duck noodles and really good “hum jeen pheang” I had recently in Tengkera nearer to Limbongan, as well as uber fresh cockles and clams at Taman Merdeka Batu Berendam. While many of these require a bit of traveling away from Melaka Central and thus often out of the tourist radar, some of these places which have really good food are right smack in town just minutes away from the bustling shopping districts, like Sun May Hiong Satay House in Kota Laksamana, as well as Pak Putra which many purportedly serve the best naan and tandoori chicken in all Malaysia!
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雪菜肉絲炒年糕 Stir Fried Ningbo Sticky Rice Cake

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I love visiting Taiwan and despite having made than a dozen trips there over the years, the place, the food, and the people continue to astound and inspire me in ways one or another. For most of my previous trips, I was more interested to discover and learn about the mainstream local food fare of Fujian (Min) origins and how the same dish may vary across different places within the island, be it the way which the dish is cooked or sometimes even how they are named. I was also fascinated by the incorporation of local specialty produce into some common dishes which set them apart from the other versions. In doing so, I try to map out the similarities and differences between the Taiwanese local cuisines, with dishes we commonly see at home here in Singapore and Malaysia, especially those of Hokkien origins and even those from the Peranakan heritage. In my most recent trip however, I turned my attention to cuisines from the minority communities within the Taiwanese Chinese diaspora, namely the Shanghainese and the Hakkas and the best place to start is usually chatting with the stall vendors at their local markets. That was where I’d learned and became inspired to cook many Taiwanese local dishes, including this classic dish, 雪菜肉絲炒年糕 Stir Fried Ningbo Sticky Rice Cake. (more…)


广式煲仔饭 Cantonese Claypot Rice – A Revisit…

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The weather has been rather cooling of late and this makes me crave for piping hot food. Such an irony right I know… when it’s hot and wretched, we want something cold and chilling, and when the temperature takes a dip, we yearn for something to get our rumbling tummies all warm and happy. There are many things I love to cook and eat really warm, like stews, soups, porridge and of course claypot rice. I love eating 广式煲仔饭 Cantonese claypot rice for the piping hot and perfectly cooked grains with succulent bits of chicken and of course my favorite Chinese sausages and salted fish! Really yums!!!
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昙花润肺养颜甜汤 Keng Hua Sweet Broth

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Seasons are changing, yes even in tropical Singapore. More cooling and rainy days, I simply love it! A good break from the hot and humid weather we typically get in the earlier months, leaving us all balmy and frustrated. I like to cook some hot “tong sui” during this time of the year too, a bowl of warm sweet broth packed with nourishing ingredients to prep us for the months to come. My small pot of “keng huay” is in bloom again, perfect timing to use those flowers to curb the cough and ease the sore throat that accompanied the flu bug for the last week or so!
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