Monday, June 29, 2009

Traditional Teochew Jellied Pig's Trotters Recipe

Whenever I visit Singapore. I love to browse around the hawker stalls around the older markets (Macpherson and Joo Chiat and the People's Park Complex), where I always end up eating my lunch over again. I love looking at the stacks of traditional treats displaying in rows of food trays: pig's trotters, pig's ears and snorts,skins, intestines, steaming kiam chye, chicken feet and innards. It is the pigs ears and trotters that always draw my attention. However, it is always impossible to get my son to taste these aspic Singaporean delicacies without having a grimace on his face.
Have you tried jellied pig's trotters? Here is a traditional Teochew recipe, which we have found recently. It was from my late maternal uncle. He was a cook not in a restaurant but catering for the "street banquets" at weddings and funerals. I doubt if any caterer today bother to make this labour intensive homemade dish since many have forgotten about this dish. Here is the recipe for a revival of this traditional dish.

Jellied Pig's Trotters Recipe:


1.5kg pig's trotters
500g pork shin bone
10 cloves garlic
3Tbsp Chinese Cooking wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 hard boiled eggs sliced
1 cup frozen peas and carrots.
5pcs rehyrated stone-ear mushrooms and slivered
Soak the pig's trotters in ice cold water for 2 hours. Drain and put them in a large stockpot. Add enough water to completely cover and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes and skimming off the scums and impurities. Drain and rinse in cold water a couple of times. Return the trotters to the and add garlic, rice wine, salt and pepper. Cover with cold water and bring to boil again and skimming off any impurities. Reduce the heat to low and partially covered with a lid and simmer for 5 to 6 hours. Lift out the trotters and meat with a slotted spoon and transfer to cutting board. Collect the meat and discard the bones. Chop the meat into fine dices and set aside. Pour the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a bowl. Let cool and skim off any fat. Carefully pour the stock into a oblong cake tin 4 by 8 inchesand refrigerate. When the jelly is half set, scatter the diced meat and sliced egg on the surface and push them gently into the jelly. Sprincle the mushroom, peas and carrots between the meat and eggs. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until firm. To serve, cut into bite size square as an appertizer. To be continued.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to make curry powder at home.

Although dissolving the conversion for the kati and tael measurements in the recipe was a simple task, we realised that following the traditional method of making the curry powder is impracticable and time consuming in today's household. Instead, we have adopted some short cuts and the use of some of the the electrical kitchen gadgets for cooking traditional dishes and recipes at home. These save time spent in the laborious task of pounding wet ingredients in the pestle and mortar and grinding of the dry ingredients on the grinding stone. In this recipe, you can use the ground chili and turmeric powder from the store but the coriander, cumin and fennel are best freshly ground for their aromas. Many of the other spices like the cinnamon, cloves and cardamon pods are used whole and discarded after cooking.

Ingredients to be ground for the traditional homemade curry powder:

600g coriander seeds (ketumbar)

400g cumin seeds (jintan puteh)

200g fennel seeds (jintan manis)

100g peppercorn Ladah puteh)

60g cardamon pods (buah palaga)

30g cloves (bunga cengkeh)

300g dried chili

125g dried turmeric (kunyit kering)

90g cinnamon stick (kayu manis)

The above is a translation of the original recipe which was given in kati and tael and the names of the spices were written in Malay. We have adopted a short cut by purchasing ground chili and turmeric from the store. The cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamon pods are used whole as and when required. To make this homemade curry powder, you only have to ground the coriander, cumin, fennel and peppercorns. Mix the ground ingredient together except the chili powder which is added later according to taste. To make curry paste for an Indian-style curry, mix 2 tablespoons of the mixed powdered spices with 1 dessertspoon of chili powder into a paste with a little water. Add 5 cardamon pods, 5 cloves and 4cm piece of cinnamon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is this the long lost recipe of Mum's homemade curry powder?

We found this handwritten page of an exercise book while looking through an old cookbook. On closer examination, we do not know whether it is a shopping list or a recipe because nothing else was written beside the weight measurements of the spices. We have no idea how it had found its way to the cookbook but for all we know, it could be the lost recipe of my mother's secret recipe for her famous homemade curry powder.
The weight measurements were written in katti and taels and the first thing for us to do, is to work out the conversion into metric. Although the metric weight measurement has been implemented since the 1960s in most South East Asian countries, the katti is still used in the markets in Malaysia and Thailand. This weight unit is said to be originated from Malaya during the colonial period and it is still commonly used among the older generation in the kampong as a weight measure. In Thailand, the katti is used now as a metric unit equal to exactly 600 grams.
In the next couple of days, I will attempt to retrieve this homemade curry powder from oblivion in our kitchen by following the weight measurement as closely as possible. And most of all, relying on the past memory of the traditional way my mother made curry powder before the store bought versions become a common product. I can vividly remember how she would laboriously removed all grits from each ingredient and washed before drying them thoroughly in the sun, using large flat bamboo trays for two to three days. She would then roast the spices in a wok over a slow charcoal stove in small quantities and in the process released the most wonderful aroma that would rise and float throughout the house. She would then take the roasted spices to the mill to be ground into fine powder. To be continued...

Monday, June 22, 2009

It makes dollar and sense when deboning and filleting meat at home...

It makes dollar and sense when deboning and filleting meat at home. It can save you lot of money. The "butterfly leg of lamb"(deboned) was priced at $16.98 per kg., last week at the supermarket as compared to the whole leg of lamb at $8.00 per kilo. It is usually doubled the price when you pay for deboned meat and chicken. Deboning a leg of lamb isn't pretty but it isn't rocket science either. Remember you have to be careful with sharp knives, though they are safer than blunt ones. Most butchering accidents happen when trying to force a blunt knife to do the job that requires a sharp knife.Look after your knives. Store them separately and don't just let them rattle around with other cutlery in the kitchen drawer!
Last week we had a request for "sup kambing" (Mutton Soup) for dinner and we obliged by buying a leg of lamb from the supermarket for the recipe. We bought the whole leg of lamb so that we can use the bones for making the stock for the spicy soup. I wished that I didn't doubled as a photographer while I was butchering the leg of lamb so that I could have the time to concentrate and take more photos to show the various steps of the deboning process. Anyway, here is a brief description of the job I have done on a Saturday afternoon.

Lay the leg of lamb on the cutting board so that the meatier part faces down and trim the fat from the leg. Use the tip of a sharp knife to carefully cut the flesh away and down behind the aitch bone keep the blade as close to the bone as you can. After you cut down about an inch or so, stop and wiggle the bone a little to see where it is attached to the leg bone at the hip socket.Find the space between the joints and cut through. Follow the aitch bone and cut through it to free it . Locate the knee joint where the shank is joint to the leg bone. At the round knob end of leg bone start cutting along the bone to the knee joint then down to the length of shank bone. Now start trimming around the bones and easing it out as you work. With a small knife scape the tendons one by one from the meat and lift it out. To butterfly it pull it apart an flatten it , you might need to a couple of cuts at the thicker part of the leg.Just simply cut the muscle length wise to have it lay completely flat. With some practice, deboning a leg of lamb is not so difficult after all.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do we understand the origins of what we eat, the who-what-when-where-how of food production.

It amazes me, to find how quickly a generation of young Singaporeans have grown up without knowing that "wet markets" or "open air markets", where live chickens slaughtered right in front of the customers, did exist in nearly every neighbourhood before they were replaced modern supermarkets and mega stores. These days the young ones are more familiar with the sanitized-looking chicken breasts slapped on a Styrofoam and encased in plastic found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. Honestly, how many of us bother to understand the origins of what we eat, the who-what-when-where-how of food production. Of course, there is also an ever growing market for natural food and write-up on pros and cons of organic grown food to cater for the discerning few. But somehow, despite all of the questioning and soul searching, there still seems to be a lack of understanding of a crucial part of the big picture: What happens between the farm and the supermarket? Take meat, for instance. How many people are truly familiar on how the animal is raised and butchered before before it goes on sale in the super market. These days even your local supermarket or meat-retailer usually go through a middleman - someone who receives the whole animal and prepares the cuts to exact specification for the modern consumer who seems to be buying their meat pre-cut, boned, and cling wrapped on a Styrofoam tray. This, of course, saves time and energy and convenient to our present hectic lifestyle.
But the downside, is that they become a noticeable separation between the origin and the end product. What you don't know is when and how was the meat slaughtered, how it was treated and stored prior to your purchase.So much so that it is safe to say that butchering is in danger of becoming a an invisible art. Unlike the days of the wet market, where whole carcasses of of the slaughtered animals were displayed and customers had their butcher carved out the cuts of meat they wanted.During my stay in Papua New Guinea, killing our own meat was a common thing to do. I can still clearly recall my first kill. Like any form animal slaughtering, it was not an easy task and I didn't want to botch it when I tried it for the first time, so I had someone with experience giving instructions next to me. I do not want to go into the grisly and grotty details as I personally do not enjoy slaughtering an animal unless it is a necessity.Anyway, I become quite a competent bush butcher by the time I relocated myself back to Sydney. So competent that I am able to debone a leg of lamb for my next recipe. Please stay tuned.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Basic Sambal Tumis Recipe

In Singapore, where there are no harsh climatic or seasonal changes throughout the year, preserving and storing food to see the families through the seasonal change hasn’t been seen as such a priority, until we are living and studying abroad. It may not even be the cold and snowy winters but in places where the shops are so far away or the goods are out of stock until the next shipment. Of course, I am speaking from personal experiences where I was working and living in the tropical paradise of Papua New Guinea where many of the residents depended on the monthly shipment of Burn Philips (import and export company) to bring all their supplies from machineries to household goods and foods. People especially the expatriates back in long gone days relied on having those monthly shipments to tide them over. Now, many of us are able to go to the stores or supermarkets to buy a bottle of Teriyaki sauce form Japan, pasta from Italy and salmon from Alaska. Alas modern commerce has over taken the seasons and the need for having the skills to hoard enough food to keep a family for many months is long fading into oblivion.
In Sydney, where the winter is mild, preserving food to see my family through the winter hasn’t been seen as a priority, but last weekend we made enough sambal tumis (hot chilli sauce) to see us through the next few months. Cooking and storing the extras are not not new for us because we were both brought up in the age before supermarkets and sliced bread, when food was commonly made from scratch and we all made the best of what we had. We tried not to forget that heritage and the life skills our past had taught us but now we're back on living a simple life and those memories help us almost everyday with what we want to do now. We would like to share this versatile sambal recipe with you, which can be used as a chilli base for chicken, fries fish and ikan bilis sambal like the condiment we have used for the nasi lemak recipe. It can also be used as garnish for lontong and mee siam.

Basic Sambal Tumis Recipe:


1. 350grams Dried Chillies
2. 250g Shallots (if unavailable substitute 2 onions)
3. 60g cloves of Garlic
4. ½ cup buah keras (candlenuts)
4. 80g blachan, toasted
5. 150ml Assam juice (to taste)
6. 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
7. Oil
8. Salt and sugar to taste
1 Soak the dried chillies in cold water (half a day) and drain.
3. Put the dried chillies, shallots, buah keras, garlic, lemongrass and the toasted blachan and some water (just enough to cover the ingredients) into the blender and grind till fine.
3. Put some oil into a wok, add the chillies mixture over medium heat until aromatic and add the prepared assam juice.
4. Cook for some time until the chillies mixture turns into a little dark red consistency and the oil separated from the paste or what we call *pecah minyak*
5. Add salt and sugar to taste

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) All Day Breakfast?

When I was a child growing up in Singapore, nasi lemak was a common breakfast food sold early in the morning at roadside stalls or peddled on a bicycle by the hawker from place to place accompanied by the repetitive call of “nasi lemak nasi lemak” echoing through the morning air.

Nasi Lemak is a Malay word that literally means 'rice in cream'. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby rice is soaked in coconut milk and then the mixture steamed. Traditionally it is wrapped in banana leaves, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies(ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) and normally served and sold cold. However, nowadays, there are many eating places which serve it as noon or evening meals, making it possible for the dish to be eaten throughout the day. Nasi lemak panas which means hot nasi lemak is another name given to nasi lemak served with hot cooked rice on a plate with a variety of other accompaniments such as chicken, pickled vegetables (achar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices). Whereas the cold breakfast meal is now often sold packed in newspaper or brown paper laminated in plastic film instead of the traditional banana leaves wrapped parcel.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice)


3 cups long grain rice
1pc. Lemon grass (bruised)
1tsp turmeric powder (colouring)
2pcs Pandan leaves (optional)
4cups coconut milk

Wash rice until water runs clear and drain. Add the rice and 3 cups coconut milk together with lemon grass and other ingredients to a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to boil over medium high heat. Immediately decrease the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the coconut milk, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the grains. Sprinkle the rest of the coconut milk over the rice and stir and distribute well with wooden spoon. Cover and decrease the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes more. Decrease the heat to very low and let rest for 15 minutes until ready to serve with other condiments.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bak Kut Teh Recipe aka Traditional Herbal Pork Ribs Soup Recipe

I thought cooking Bak Kut Teh in exchange for Angela’s hydroponic grown chilli was going to be easy as ordering a takeaway. But it didn’t turn out as anticipated. We checked our pantry and found that some of the herbs for making the Bak Kut Teh, (herbal soup with pork ribs and pork loin), were running low. Subsequently, we went to the Chinese herbal medicine shop in the next suburd. To our dismay, the herbalist could not understand the Romanised Cantonese such as Tong Kwai, Sook Tei, Kei Chee, Chuin Kung and Yoke Chok hand written in an exercise book we have kept in the kitchen drawer. We politely turned down his offer of other herbal concoctions and left thinking to myself whether Angela would know the difference if we used the ready made Bak Kut Teh herb sachet commonly found in Asian grocery stores and supermarkets. We didn’t have much choice, as it would take us at least 40 minutes to drive to Chinatown in Sydney and the chances of finding a parking space on a busy Saturday was as rare as a chicken’s tooth.

Obviously Angela didn’t know the difference, but we felt bad not to let the cat out of the bag. We bought the Bak Kut Teh herbal sachet and simply followed the direction written on the packaging. Though we did add some other herbs such as the Goji berries(Kei Chee), Yoke Chok and sliced Tong Kwai and also added seasoning to our personal taste. The homemade Bak Kut Teh was simple to cook after all.

Bak Kut Teh Recipe:


1kg pork ribs
1 ½ kg pork loin
3lt water
5 cloves whole garlic
3 tbsp thick dark soya sauce
5 tbsp light soya sauce
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
15g goji berries(kei chee)
15pcs dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in water till soften)
Cooking method:
Put in the 2 sachets, meat garlic, and other ingredients into boiling water. Simmer for at least 1 ½ hour.

Traditional Herbal Recipe:

15g sliced Tong Kwai
20g Tong Sum
15g Chuin Kung
25g Sook Tei
25g Kei Chee
20g Yoke Chok
3 pcs Kam Choe
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
5 cloves
2 star anise
5cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp black peppercorns
Put all the herbs in a muslin bag to form a sachet.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Any barter trader out there?

We received a message from Angela of Sydney asking whether we would like to have some hydroponic- grown chili and will be delivered personally this Saturday. How could we turn down such a good offer and kind gesture? In return we sent her an invite to have a meal with us. A flurry of one line messages followed to confirm place, food and time. We finally decided to have peppery Bak Kut Teh, literally translated from the Hokkien dialect as “Pork Bones Tea”. We were disappointed when she said that she can’t have a sit-down dinner with us but will have it as a takeaway. We are naturally pleased to oblige.

I wonder how many of you have noticed that Angela and I have just done an old kampong trading transaction called barter trading. It certainly isn't something new that we have invented; bartering has been around for a very long time. It's the way our ah kongs and ah mahs (grandparents) conducted their daily business and how they survived in their kampong days. Although many of our younger Singaporeans aren’t aware of this system at this present time, our grandparents bartered on a daily basis.Back in those days, people simply produced almost everything they need themselves. And what few things they didn't produce from their small vegetables plot, they procured by barter trading with someone in their kampong. On feast days or festival days, families exchanged traditional kuihs and cakes not because they can enjoy a greater variety without having to make them but it was a communal spirit of sharing among them.
Our grandparents and parents have set a precedent, and if this isn't Greek to you, then you understand that bartering is an economical and clever way to save money. If you barter an item you no longer need, you not only clear a little clutter from your house but you save money. Furthermore it helps someone else and gets something you can really use in return. It's a way of taking care of our needs and at the same time someone else's wants without spending money. As a self confessed hoarder, this is going to be a difficult task. But I am heading that direction and didn’t have much choice as my Mrs has given a dateline for me to clear the garage by springtime.
By re-educating ourselves on the right track to barter, are we able to revitalize this tradition of bartering and open ourselves up to the many resources and possibilities available to us from where you are now living.

Anyone willing to barter for my Sup Kambing ?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Huat Kuih ( Sweet Rice Cake Pudding) Recipe:

Today is the 19th day of the 5th moon of the lunar calendar and it marks the fourth anniversary of my mother-in-law’s passing. We commemorate her anniversary, by observing an ancient Taoist religious practice of Ancestor worship which is based on the belief that the dead continue to live while they are on the way to the Western Paradise. Ancestor worship plays an important role for all traditional Chinese. It is a combination or a fusion of the three Chinese religious teachings: Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. These faiths teach that the spirits of deceased ancestors continue to influence and look after the family. The livings have a lifelong obligation to help their ancestors on their journey to paradise by making sacrifices. In return they hope their ancestors will show their gratitude by keeping them healthy, making them rich and granting them sons. Since my mother-in-law passed away and was buried in Malaysia and her altar is permanently enshrined in a temple in Kuala Lumpur, a temporary makeshift altar was set up to commemorate her in Sydney today. Sacrifices offered at the altar were her favourite foods, fruits and with a traditional “huat kueh”(steamed rice cake pudding) specially made for the occasion. We also burnt incense and joss papers and fake money called “hell bank notes”.
Generally speaking, the purpose of ancestor veneration is not to ask for favours but to do one's filial duty Ancestor worship has always been an important aspect of the Chinese culture, and especially when the social or non-religious function of ancestor worship is to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. . Furthermore, according to Chinese tradition, filial piety (孝) was the primary duty of all Chinese. To the many Chinese and other Buddhist-influenced and Confucian-influenced societies such as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand Korea and Taiwan, many believe that their deceased ancestors actually need to be provided for by their descendants. While many others do not believe that the ancestors are even aware of what their descendants do for them, but that the expression of filial piety is what is important here. Whether or not the ancestor receives what is offered is not the issue.
For all I know, my late mother-in-law is laughing at my poor attempt to make the “huat kueh” for the altar offering, namely because I have added too much of baking soda while making it. Despite the mistake, I know I’ll still get her approval for a well-risen cake that has displayed the characteristic crack at the top, which has burst into three sections.

Huat Kuih ( Sweet Rice Cake Pudding) Recipe:

250g rice powder
300ml water
180g sugar
½ cup flour
2tsp baking powder


In a mixing bowl, add baking powder to flour and mix into rice powder thoroughly. Combine the mixture with water. Mix well and pour into Chinese tea cups or cup cakes tray. Place in a steamer and steam over boiling water for 25 minutes. Test with a bamboo skewer; insert into cake, if skewer comes out clean then the cakes are done.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spicy Soya Sauce Hard Boiled Eggs

Just as I have forgotten to mention about the other side dishes using the Teochew Braised Duck’s, gravy, I would be committing a culinary sacrilege if the gravy is thrown away without been utilised.

You may use the “lor” (gravy) from the braised duck to cook spicy “ tao yew eggs” (hard boiled egg in soya sauce) and “fried tao pok”(Fried Bean Curd). These appetisers are great with your Teochew braised duck dinner. Simply add hard boiled eggs and fired bean curd into the gravy and simmer for 30 minutes. Here is a simple recipe for making the gravy to cook the eggs and fried bean curd if you do not have the gravy from the braised duck.

Recipe Spicy Gravy for Hard Boiled Eggs / Fried Bean Curd (Tao Kwa or Tao Pok)


½ cup sugar
½ cup dark soya sauce
1 cup water
½ tsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp coriander powder.
6 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
2 star anise
6 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 inch galangal, sliced (if unavailable use ginger)


Put sugar in a large wok and heat over medium heat. Keep stirring until sugar caramelizes. Add ingredients and 2 ½ cups hot water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add hard boiled eggs and fried bean curds and simmer for 30 minutes.

Here is a tip on how to halve or quarter a hard boiled egg perfectly with a cotton thread.
Bite one end of the thread between your teeth or tie it to the door handle of the kitchen cabinet and loop it around the egg and pull other end of thread tight. The thread will cut neatly through the egg.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Teochew Braised Duck aka Lor Ark

Although my first attempt of cooking the Teochew braised duck cannot be compared to the famous Ah Seng Duck Rice at Serangoon Garden Way in Singapore, the component was there, but the duck available in Sydney is not as chewy and has a different texture to those ducks my grandmother raised in her kampong when I was a child.
Yesterday, I had to prepare some food for a birthday gathering for my family and friends. After referring to a few family long held recipes, I came up with this recipe of Teochew braised duck as a main dish. As I had to cater for a gathering of 16 people, I have to buy and cook two ducks for this occasion. But here is the recipe for cooking one whole duck.


1.8 kg whole fresh duck
½ cup sugar
2 tsp Five-spice powder
4 tbsp sweeten dark soya sauce (thicker than the standard dark soya sauce.)
4 tbsp light soya sauce
12-15 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
3 star anise
6 cardamom pods
8 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 inch galangal, sliced (if unavailable use ginger)

1 cucumber, sliced
3 stalks coriander leaves, cut into 1 cm lengths

1. Blanch duck with boiling water. Rub both inside and out with 1 tsp five- spice powder and salt. Leave duck to hang at room temperature for about two hours.2. Put sugar in a large wok and heat over medium heat. Keep stirring until sugar caramelizes.3. Sear prepared duck on all sides. Add ingredients and 2 ½ cups hot water. Bring to a boil.4. Reduce heat, cover wok and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn duck over and continue to simmer for another half hour.5. Remove cooked duck from the wok. Reserve the sauce and thicken with 1 tbsp corn flour to pour over the duck when serving. Leave to cool and rest the duck at room temperature for 1/2 hour before cutting into serving pieces. 6. Serve garnished with the coriander leaves and sliced cucumber, with a black vinegar sauce and garlic dipping sauce.

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to cook Mee Rebus at home.

When dinner was served last night, my mouth watered not because of the plate of Mee Rebus in front of me but at a particular garnish. The dish was garnished with a hard boiled egg, Chinese celery, green chillies, fried firm tofu(tau kwa), fried shallots and bean sprouts and it was a green Calamansi sliced into halves, displaying its orange flesh and just waiting to be squeezed of its juices to compliment the homemade mee rebus that triggered it.

Mee rebus is literally translated as boiled noodles
in English. It is a popular Malay hawker food that is readily available in foodcourts, coffee shops and hawkers centres in Singapore. The dish is made of yellow wheat noodles, ( Hokkien noodles), with a spicy slightly sweet curry-like sauce. The sauce is basically made from sweet potatoes, curry powder, stock, salted soya beans, dried shrimps, and peanuts. The dish also goes well with satay, therefore it is common to find both foods available in the same vicinity.
In the past, mee rebus was sold by Malay hawkers
who carried two cane baskets over a bamboo pole. One basket contained a charcoal fired stove and a pot of boiling water, and the other the ingredients for the dish.

Mee Rebus Recipe:

To blend and set aside
10 red chillies
3cm galangal
2 cm turmeric
4 cloves garlic
10 shallots
4 candle nuts (buah keras)
1 handful of dried shrimp (soak)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp of curry powder

Other ingredients :

3 medium size sweet potatoes (steam and mash)5 cups of beef or chicken stock
1 cup roasted peanut and f grounded coarsely
½ cup tau cheo (salted soya bean)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
1 kg of yellow noodles (Hokkien noodles) - blanch with boiling water
3-4 hard boiled eggs, cut in wedges
20 medium size prawns - shell and devein and blanch
3-4 limau kasturi* [kalamansi limes], cut into halves
3 cups bean sprouts, briefly blanched
2 pcs. Fried tau gua ( firm tofu)
10 shallots, thinly sliced and fried golden brown
4 pcs green chilies
3-4 hard boiled eggs, cut in wedges
½ cup Chinese Celery


1) Using a mortar and pestle or blender, Grind candlenuts, chili paste, fresh turmeric, shallots, galangal and coriander powder into a fine paste. Heat oil and fry the blended ingredients until fragrant. Put in stock and sweet potatoes. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, till a gravy-like consistency is reached..2) Add in seasoning and bring to boil again. Keep gravy hot on the low-medium heat, for serving.
To serve: Put noodles and beansprout in a dish. Pour hot gravy over and garnish with eggs, cucumber, Chinese celery, prawns, fried shallots and chillies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What is Calamansi got to do with Sambal Belachan?

Our five year old Calamansi tree in our backyard is laden with fruits at this time of the year. Many Singaporeans call it “sng kum” others call it “keat lah” and in Malay, it is known as limau kasturi. I always remember this wonderful and refreshing thirst quencher during my army training in my national service days. Although we had been told by our team leader not to take any fruits without the gardener’s permission or even if they were found growing in an abandoned fruit orchard within the training area. It was just impossible for every mother’s son not to pocket such a tempting thirst quencher along the training route.

The fruit of the calamansi resembles a large marble, usually 25-35mm in diameter, but sometimes up to 40mm. These limes have a distinct aroma with a very thin green peel and turning orange when ripen. When cut opened, it reveals a yellow or orange flesh. Many first time taster are mistaken by it appearance and aroma and often leads to a pleasant surprise, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, though the peel is sweet. It is often used as a condiment for a variety of dishes from the spicy sautéed rice noodle called Mee Siam to Mee Rebus and the juice are often squeezed into pounded sambal belachan just before serving. The peels are not discarded but added into the sambal belachan to provide a unique flavour.


150g red chillies

50g belachan, toasted

3 pcs. Kasturi lime juice

Using the mortar and pestle, pound chilli until seeds are finely grounded. Add belachan and blend into the chilli to form a thick consistency paste. Add lime juice and peel before serving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Steamed Egg Custard and Minced Pork with Mui Choi from Grandma's recipe.

This steamed egg and minced pork with “mui choi” is one of Grandma’s simple dishes which we served for dinner last night. But we didn’t cook it the way Grandma did. We steamed the dish seperately in a bamboo steamer over the wok. Traditionally, this dish is steamed over the cooking rice to conserve energy.

If you have a rice cooker, you can cook steamed dishes on top of the rice. Either place directly on top of the rice or use the additional steamer plate.
If not, then steam in microwave or conventional method of steaming in the wok/pan.

Steamed egg and minced meat with mui choi(Chinese preserved vegetable)


3-4 eggs
1 cup chicken stock/water
1/2 tsp of salt
250g minced pork or chicken
½ cup mui choi (optional)
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 1/2 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp sesame oil


1. Beat eggs lightly and stir all ingredient into egg mixture.
2. Pour mixture into a deep metal or ceramic dish.
3. When rice is cooked midway, put the dish on top of the rice and continue cooking the rice. The egg/meat custard will be cooked together with the rice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

How To Cook Steamed Rice by Absorption Method.

Cooking rice seems easy, but cooking rice without the use of an electric rice cooker is a different matter. In today’s hectic lifestyle, just about everyone uses an electric rice cooker. But many older Singaporeans still believe that the most fragrant rice is made in an earthenware pot, fired by firewood or charcoal. I still cannot help but remembering the smoky white rice my maternal grandmother used to cook for the family. She could conjure up several dishes from her big rice pot while cooking rice at the same time. When the rice is nearly cooked, she would carefully place several enamelled dishes seperated on top of each other with wooden chopsticks. The most coveted dishes to appear from Grandmother’s rice pot were steamed eggs with minced pork and chopped “mui choy” (preserved vegetable) and her homemade salted fish with ginger.
Just in case you are place in situations like a power failure or camping in the bush or without an electrical rice cooker. I am going to describe briefly how to cook steamed rice on a stove or a camp fire.

Steamed White Rice Recipe:

2 cups rice (serve 4)
2 cups water

Though it is not necessary, rice may be washed once or twice before draining the water away. (The water can then be used to make soup or water the garden plants.) Add the rice and water to a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. (If using charcoal, place the pot after the coal is red hot.) Once it comes to a rapid boil, decrease the heat to medium and boil gently for the next ten minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the water. Stir and scrap the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Cover and decrease heat to low and cook rice for another 10 minutes or more. This is the secret in making fluffy rice. The pot must remain covered throughout the cooking process except when stirring. Decrease the heat to very low and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Fluff and loosen the rice with a wooden spoon when it is still hot.