Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Street food I love

The best thing about living in Asia is the food culture, especially its street food. In other parts of Asia you may get a more bazaar like feel in terms of street food like dining in the alleys. There's still that in Singapore, but since we value hygiene above all else, we've gone for a more sanitised setting in terms of hawker or food centres (used interchangeably but referring to the same thing) which I still like even though these are not air conditioned because there's open air ventilation. I just don't like the smell of food in air conditioned food courts, the clash of different food smells in a closed up space. Anyway that's just me.

So today's post is all about hawker foods I love. F for food, what else.

Here they are, top to bottom, char kway teow (noodles in a sweetish black sauce with cockles, fishcake, beansprouts), won ton mee (noodles in a tomato-based sauce with pork dumplings and sweet sauce pork called char siew and strands of leafy vegetables), kway chap (big and small intestines, bean curd puffs (tau pok), stewed pork slices, egg, amongst other choices, but I usually just choose big intestines and tau pok)) with a flour based kway teow, same texture as noodles), and finally, sambal fried garoupa and kang kong (water spinach) and eaten with steamed rice. The last you could choose off a menu of dishes in what is known as a zichar stall. Zichar means you fry the dish in a Chinese wok under high fire so the cooking completes in a fairly quick stir fry fashion.

This list is not exhaustive and I will post more hawker food in future post. Bon appetit just looking.

abc wednesday

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reunion eat

Over the last weekend, on Saturday (also Valentine's Day), the Chinese would have had their big reunion eat, the equivalent of Thanksgiving get-together, on the eve of the new lunar new year. The Chinese feast would have dishes like a hearty soup, curry, meat sauce dishes, roast meats, fish, prawn, vegetables - the Chinese go by the phonetic sounds of dishes to symbolise good fortune. For example, there's this moss like thing that's cooked with pork, because it sounds like 'you will prosper' (it's called 'fa cai'). It's just a crunchy algae taste and goes with the black sauce pork so well. My mum used to cook it. Then this black moss fell out of favour, apparently studies say it contained an amino acid that could be linked to neurological diseases, and also due to over harvesting (it grows in the acrid Mongolian Gobi Desert and Qinghai plateau) and it is listed as endangered (so China banned it). No moss, so sad.

Another interesting vegetable for the feast is the leek. You can see the picture of it at the supermarket above. Again, its phonetic sound, in Cantonese, is 'suan', which sounds like 'counting money'. You know Chinese are suckers for such things. The leek looks tattered but you sort of peel off those tatters and then slice them thinly and use it for a stir fry with prawn, beancurd and diced meat (optional). You can see the end result above as well.

Then there's yusheng, which translates to 'raw fish salad'. It's an appetizer comprising finely sliced raw fish (the version above uses smoked salmon), on a bed of julienned carrot, cucumber, radish, pickles and crispy crackers drizzled with sweet plum juice. Then everybody stands and do a big toss up and say some auspicious words, 'lo hei', and this act is supposed to bring good luck. There're now variations of yusheng, like Japanese, Thai versions. Everything is polygot nowadays including food.

E is for the big reunion eat, folks.

abc wednesday

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

death wish

The writing's on the wall.

'Last meals' is curated by Jonathan Kambouris, for a tunnel underpass in Singapore. Death row prisoners from the US lining the tunnel in an exhibit titled 'Art & the Law'. Macabre and so chocolate chip ice cream, one pitted olive, one tortilla chip, garden salad, a banana, steak, eggs, hash brown, Eucharist sacrament, nothing...

The Straits Times used to run a column featuring a chef and then ask what their last meal would be. Morbidly fascinating stuff. D for death wish.

abc wednesday

Monday, February 8, 2010

My World - English pubs

I thought I'd feature two pubs in Singapore, one English, one Irish. Both look adorably quaint.

The Penny Black Victorian London Pub along Boat Quay was assembled together from parts shipped to Singapore from England. Its name is of course inspired by the first English postage stamp, issued on 6 May 1840.

Drinks include Tiger, Heineken and Guinness, Strongbow Cider, Old Speckled Hen, Kilkenny and Erdinger Weissbier. I haven't yet ate there but best sellers are Fish and Chips with mushy peas, Traditional Roast, and  home made Beef Burger. It's the hot hangout for the expat community.

Molly Malone's Irish pub is just a stone's throw away. There I've eaten many times. Its Fish and chips, Irish stew and pies will not disappoint.
Hope you enjoy my take on these two pubs.