Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Favorite Drinks

Moscato (Brown Brothers)...retails at major supermarkets at abt 25 bucks a bottle

This current release is a light straw colour with some youthful green tinges showing. The nose is lifted with aromas of freshly crushed grapes, musk and melon characters. In the mouth the wine is vibrant and mouth filling with a sherbet like flavour. A wine of universal appeal the retained carbon dioxide gives a frizzante effect – the result a lively and fresh wine in the mouth. Serve well chilled.

Asti (Martini)...Retails at major supermarkets at around 30 bucks a bottle.

Medium sweet Italian sparkling wine from the Asti region of Southern Piedmont. A close second to champagne at a fraction of the cost. Fruity crisp taste. Goes particularly well with orange juice and strawberries. Serve well chilled.

Nonya Mee Siam

This is a mee siam recipe which I picked up from a cooking class conducted by the ever effervescent Catherina Hosoi some years back.

Based on first hand experience if you follow the steps below, you will end up with super shiok mee siam.

(A) For mee siam gravy
1. 80g Dried prawns (presoaked in hot water, drain dry, stir fry without oil in a non stick fry pan till dry and fragrant. Leave to cool and use food processor to grind..doesn't have to be super fine)
2. 5 pces Tau Pok: Pass hot boiling water over. Squeeze dry and cut to small dices. Leave aside
3. Use Food Processor to grind to paste: 50g Garlic and 200g Shallots (Grind separately, leave aside)
4. Use food processor to grind 5 tablespoons grounded dried chilli paste (buy in pkt from mkt- WBS Brand), 180g Tau Cheo (Choon Tye Sauce Factory Brand. Yellow Capped Bottle), and 1.5 tablespoons of toasted belachan. With respect to the belachan, buy in block form, slice into thin chunks, roast in a pan under medium fire and use a wooden spoon to break chunks into little granules)
5. 400g Assam Paste mixed with 12 cups water for 20 mins. Squeeze out assam water
6. 0.5 cups cooking oil, 100g roasted ground peanut (can buy from supermkt or phoon huat), 200g sugar (to taste)

1. In a pot, heat up 0.5 cup cooking oil. Saute garlic paste till fragrant. Add in shallot paste and saute until fragrant
2. Add in mixture paste of grounded dried chilli paste, taucheo and belachan. Saute till fragrant. Add in grounded dried prawns and saute till fragrant.
3. Strain in assam water and bring to a rapid boil. Continue simmering for 10-15 mins till oil floats up. Add in Tau Pok and simmer for another 5 mins. Lastly add in ground peanuts and sugar to taste. Adjust seasoning according to taste.


(B) For frying beehoon for mee siam
1. To make coconut oil: Buy 500g grated coconut (Buy from mkt in pkt form, Brand: Heng Guan) sqeeze out thick milk without adding water. Pour into a non stick pot and bring to boil, stirring always to prevent burning at the bottom. When the milky mixture turns transluscent with golden crumbs forming, off the fire. Sieve the oil from the crumbs and collect 1/3 cup of coconut oil for cooking. If not enough, add in some cooking oil to make 1/3 cup.
2. 1 pkt of Beehoon (Chilli Brand): soak bee hoon in a basin of tap water till soft. Drain and leave for later use.
3. 500 g beansprouts, salt to taste
4. Use food processor to grind to paste: 40g garlic, 120g shallots (Grind separately, leave aside)
5. Grind together: 1 tablespoon toasted belachan, 8 fresh red chillis, 3 heaped tablespoons of ground dried chilli paste.

Heap up 1/3 cup coconut oil, stir fry garlic paste till fragrant. Add in shallot paste to saute till fragrant. add in the mixed paste from toasted belachan, 8 fresh red chillies and 3 tablespoons grounded dried chilli paste. Saute till fragrant. Add in beehoon and lightly combine using chopsticks and a wooden spoon until well mixed. If beehoon is abit hard, sprinkle in some water and continue frying till beehoon reaches right texture. Lastly, add in beansprouts and 0.5 tsp salt to taste, toss well and transfer to a big serving plate.

Final Topping
Some raw "kuchai" (cut to short length), some halved green limes, hard boiled eggs cut into wedges, 3 pces of taukua (cut into small cubes and deep fried till golden brown)

Final Assembly
To serve, in each individual deep plate, put in some mee siam beehoon, pour over gravy and garnish with some toppings. Serve immediately.

Serves 12

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kids of the 80s

This article strikes a poignant note in me....80s rawks!

If you were born in the 80s in Singapore, you would remember:

You grew up watching He-man, MASK, Transformers, Silver Hawk and Mickey Mouse, Ninja turtles, Carebears, Robocop, My Little Pony and Smurfs.

You grew up brushing your teeth with a mug in Primary school during recess time. You would squat by a drain with all your classmates beside you, and brush your teeth with a coloured mug.

You hated or loved the school nurse (she was either pretty or mean).

You know what SBC stands for.

You paid 40 cents for cartons of Chocolate or Strawberry milk every week in class.

Everyone's wallet used to be the velcro type

It was cool to have pagers in primary school

SBS buses used to be non-airconditioned. The bus seats are made of wood and the cushionwere red. The big red bell gave a loud BEEP! when pressed.

There were still bus tickets and bus conductors would come up to check them.

Envelopes were given to us to donate to Sharity Elephant every Children's Day.

You've probably read Young Generation magazine.You know who's Vinny the little vampire and Acai the constable.

You know what PETS are and the hidden animals in all the text pages. You hated penmanship.

Writing lines and caning hands were common, esp if you failed chinese spelling (caning was actually allowed).

You were there when they first introduced the MRT here. You went for the first ride with your parents and you would kneel on the seat to see the scenery.

Movie tickets used to cost only $3.50.

Gals were fascinated by Strawberry Short Cake and Barbie Dolls.

You learn to laugh like The Count in Sesame Street.

You bought tidbits called beebee (20 cents per pack, 10 cents in MGS), and mamee (30 cents), that had a different sticker in it every time.

You carried a lunch box to school but either threw away the food or brought it back home again.

You watched TV2 (also known as Channel 10) cartoons because Channel 5 never had enough cartoons for you.

Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Famous Five and Secret Seven were probably the thickest story books you thought you would ever read.

KFC used to be a high class restaurant that served food in plates and had metal forks and knives.

The most vulgar thing you said was asshole and idiot and THE MOST EXTREME WAS 'chicken pie' just couldn't bring yourself to say the hokkien translation.

Catching and pepsi-cola was the IN thing, and twist was the magic word.

Your English workbooks were made of some damn poor quality paper that was smooth and yellow.

You came to school 15 mins before the bell every morning just so you could copy someone's homework.

CDIS was your best friend.

The only computer lessons in school involved funny pixellized characters in 16 colours walking about trying to teach you math.

Waterbottles were slung around your neck and a must everywhere you went.

Boys loved to play soccer with small stones or tennis balls in the basketball court.

Girls played five stones and boys played with marbles.

Science was fun with the Balsam and the Angsana being the most important plants of our lives, guppies and swordtail being the most important fishes.

Who can forget Ahmad, Bala, Sumei and John, immortalized in our minds from school textbooks.

We conducted experiments of our own to get badges for being a Young Zoologist/Botanist etc.

Every Children's day and National day you either got pins or pens with 'Happy Children's Day 1993' or useless plastic files with 'Happy National Day 1994'.

You wore BM2000, BATA, or Pallas shoes.

Your form teacher taught you Maths, Science and English.

You went to school in slippers and a raincoat when it rained, and you find a dry spot in the school
to sit down, dry your feet, and wear your dry and warm socks and shoes.

There would be spelling tests and mental sums to do almost everyday (you hated them).

Your friends considered you lucky and rich if your parents gave you $2 or more for pocket mone everyday.

You saw Wee Kim Wee's face in the school hall.

Boys liked catching fighting spiders, earthworms or tadpoles.

Collecting and battling erasers was a pastime for boys.

Class monitors and prefects loved to say, "You talk somemore, I write your name ah!"

You got booked for muddy shoes in class.

There were at least 40 people in one class.

You brought every single book to school, even though there was a timetable.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Handburger @ Raffles City

Toasted marshmallows in Raffles City?!

Burgers do not fall within my list of favorite foods. Nonetheless, I am not one to shun a good burger, especially one which creates as much buzz as The Handburger.

Armed with growling stomachs, my kakis and I trooped down to Raffles City for our weekly lunch fix. As the restaurant was newly minted, we were fortunate to secure a seat without much waiting.

The seats comprise of boxy squares which can accomodate bums of all sizes. Although not extremely comfortable, they are practical pieces which can be conveniently shoved under the table when not in use.

We were gratified to note that the restaurant features a fascinating range of burgers which cater to a wide range of tastebuds.

A run down of the burgers-
Blue Cheese Beef Burger: SGD17.80
Duck Leg Confit Burger: SG17.80
Reuben Burger: SGD14.80
The Handburger Original: SGD13.80
Tea Smoked Duck Burger: SGD15.80
Chicken Caesar Burger: SGD12.80
Tandoor Chicken Burger: SGD13.80
Pulled Pork Burger: SGD11.80
Parmesan Prawncake Burger: SGD17.80
Beer Battered Dory Burger: SGD14.80
Stuffed Portebello Burger: SGD13.80
Vegetarian Kakiage Burger: SGD10+
The Works Burger: SGD16+ds.

*All burgers come with a choice of either chilled stuffed tomato or straight cut fries.

A number of the burgers seem to be disguised as popular main courses items which can be eaten on their own (e.g tea smoked duck, beer battered fish, portabello mushroom burgers). Hard core burger aficiondos should probably stick to The Handburger Original for a closer version of the real thing.

Since I love fish and chips, I opted for the beer battered dory burger with fries.

Presentation was lovely- the battered dory fillets wedged between the buns were generous in portion and bathed in a lip smacking aioli cream sauce topped with a sprinkling of daikon chips. It didn't look as if I would be able to cram everything into my mouth so I ate the fish and buns separately. At the end of the day, it just tasted like good ol fish and chips to me. No complaints though.

The quality of the fries however left more to be desired. They were limp, oily and dull looking. These were definitely not freshly prepared and had probably been left in the open for awhile prior to serving. I had trouble finishing them even after asking for double helpings of chilli sauce.

My two other kakis ordered The Handburger Original and Pulled Pork Burger resectively. I sampled The Handburger Original and give it two thumbs up. The meat patty was perfectly grilled, with hints of pink and just the right amount of juiciness. A slice of melted cheese coupled with a dollop of worcestershire sauce sealed the deal. This is great comfort food.

The accidental highlight of my meal however was a stick of 3 toasted marshmallows.

These came atop a nutella drink which my kaki redeemed for free using a discount coupon. The marshmallows were crisp on the outside but overflowing with goey goodness inside. It must have taken immense patience and skill to achieve such consistency. I felt like a kid once again and craved for more. Unfortunately, the restaurant does not sell its marshmallows separately.

I know this may sound funny but I'll be definitely back...for more marshmallows.

2 (not so) new food sightings in Singapore

Sakura and Cordyceps Chickens
I have a hunch the chickens we eat are hormonally enhanced to yield more succulent fleshy meat. However, the plot seems to have thickened. Our chickens now also listen to Mozart and are fed with cordyceps!

These prized chickens retail at thrice the price of a normal chicken in major supermarkets and seem to be selling well. Looks like Singaporeans are a pretty cultured lot! =)

Black Garlic

The packaging proudly coins it "Black Gold", thus giving rise to its hefty price tag of over 60 bucks for a few bulbs. Its actually just normal garlic which has been fermented over high temperatures. The final product purportedly contains twice as much antioxidants as normal garlic and is supposed to boast a melt in the mouth texture with tangy sweet undertones.

Anyone game for a meal of black garlic roasted cordyceps chicken?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Top 10 most popular dogs in Singapore

A rundown of Singapore's top 10 dog breeds (info by Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore):

1) Shih Tzu
2) Mixed breed
3) Jack Russell
4) Maltese
5) Miniture Schnauzer
6) Golden Retriever
7) Chihuahua
8) Poodle
9) Labrador Retriever
10) Pomeranian favorite dog - The Whippet is not mentioned!


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