A Singaporean Feast at Home-All in an evening's work.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I miss home-cooked Singaporean food. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here's a mini show-case into what I had for dinner one evening with la familia when I was back. Seriously, I don't blame myself for gaining at least 3 kg (5 lb-ish) in my annual 3-week-long binge out sessions.
Singapore, as you may/may not know, is a cosmopolitan city/country in South-east Asia, about a degree north of the equator. Climate-wise, it's always hot hot hot and humid year-round, hence there's usually A/C in each household (not good for our carbon footprint but when you're irritated and sweating buckets constantly, the environment takes a back-seat). We are sandwiched between Malaysia (north) and Indonesia (south) and our population of 5 million (and growing) consists of a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Eurasians/whites etc. As a fair means of communicating between each ethnic race, British English and one's respective mother tongue are taught at first language levels in schools so here in the US, I am amused/annoyed when people make mention that I speak "very good English" and "which part of China/Taiwan is Singapore at?" Grrr....

Eventually, with inter-racial mixing comes foods that marry various elements of different races. My family is
Peranakan/Straits-born Chinese (of Hokkien and Teochew origin) with a little Malay and a little Indian peppered in for good measure. While I'm not featuring Peranakan food at this time (but in the future), 
food-wise we are locavores and use coconut milk, lemons/limes, dried shrimp/anchovies, spices etc native to SE Asia in our cooking. Makes sense right?

On the table at one time: (Thanks to wikipedia for the explanations of some foods. I kinda got lazy towards the end)
1) Chilli Crab-One of our most famous dishes, crabs are stir-fried in a tomato-chilli egg gravy. In Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, Mr. B, professes his love for them chilli crabs.
[On a side-note, he also mentions that Singapore's the most food-obsessed as a nation: 
Bourdain admits his affection for the food of Singapore: "It's a wealthy city-state, but they love eating hawker food, street food. They're all food experts. They'll argue with you about all these obscure regional Chinese dishes, but also about how to make a fettucine carbonara, and they'll give you a respectable argument." Gotta agree with that.]

2) Steamed Fish-My family eats fish EVERYday. Usually steamed with Chinese mushrooms, ginger and tomatoes. So good and healthy.
3) Ngoh Hiang-Meat and shrimp wrapped in beancurd skins then FRIED

4) Orh Luat-Oyster Omelettes fried with a special egg and gluten mixture. Very chewy and yummy!
5) Pepper Crab
6) Chap Chai-Stir fried Veggies of cabbage etc in a fermented Bean Sauce. Not to be confused with the Korean Jap Chae.
7) Home cooked-Chai Tao Kueh-Steamed radish cakes fried with sweet black sauce, pickled radish, spring onions and eggs.
8) Deep Fried Buns (to mop up the gravy of the Chilli crab)
9) Daikon Soup (A light broth of daikon and pork ribs)

(Closeup-Black Pepper Crab. This packs a punch and the pepper in Asia is infinitely more fragrant and flavorful than the ones I get in the US)

(Closeup-Our Famous Chilli Crab!-with lots of egg in the gravy, the way I like it)
(Next, Singaporean Chicken Curry-starts off with a base of Indian curry spices and pastes + SE Asian touches of lemongrass, pandan leaves, coconut milk (Indian curries use milk). I love the tangy "lemak"-ness (Malay word for thick and creamy) of Singaporean curry which goes very well with jasmine rice or a baguette or yellow egg noodles.)

Coffee Pork Ribs-A new take on an old-favorite. Remember sweet and sour pork? Well, try coffee-flavored, caramelized sugar. Interesting and very very crispy and yummy.
Kway Chap-Hard boiled eggs, pig innards (stomach, small and large intestines), tofu in a spicy cinnamon-anise-cummin broth. There is no metallic zing of the meat, it's not as disgusting as it sounds and the texture of the meat is firm and very very divine. 

Kway Chap wide rice noodles.
Mapo Tofu-This one's a staple in many other Chinese cuisines. My family's version is more watered-down and less starch-y and less less oily.


Anonymous said...

Oh my god... Im salivating now...

Winnie said...

I have a craving whenever I see these food pics too!

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