Tau Suan

Saturday, 27 August 2011


If you know what 豆爽 (tau suan) is, you probably know that 豆 means beans.

What about 爽? What does 爽mean?

'Suan' means sticky soup, which may be savory or sweet. I guess '爽' is another word for  '羹'.

Cooking for the President has an alternative explanation that's quite interesting. 

Kiam Chye Ark (Salted Mustard Greens and Duck Soup)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

When I was looking at recipes for itek teem, I was surprised at the number of ingredients used for the Nyonya soup.

Various Peranakan adaptations of kiam chye ark had pig's trotters, assam skin, brandy, nutmeg, and even sea cucumber.

These were on top of the kiam chye (pickled mustard greens), ark (duck), pickled plums, and tomatoes found in every recipe, Nyonya or Chinese.

It all seemed a bit over-the-top to me, adding so much stuff.

Sayur Lodeh

Monday, 22 August 2011

It was Cook a Pot of Curry Day yesterday because, to cut a long story short, some mainland Chinese with a delicate nose had asked his Singaporean Indian to stop cooking curry. Indignant Singaporeans protested in unison when they heard the story. How dare they tell us not to cook curry! It was a wonderful excuse to tell the mainland Chinese where to shove it, all in the name of protecting the national identity. Before long, Curry Day was organized via Facebook.

There are curries, and there are curries. If it had been a Malay, Nyonya or local Chinese cooking curry next to the mainland Chinese, there probably would have been no dispute. But Indian curries are different when they're not adapted to suit the tastes of the Singaporean Chinese. They have a pungence that's far more powerful than Malay, Nyonya or Chinese-style curries. Chinese Singaporeans call it 'the Indian smell'. For those who don't mince their words, 'smell' may be replaced with 'stink' or 'pong'

Minced Pork Stir-Fry with Ketchup & Fermented Black Beans

Friday, 19 August 2011

Minced pork stir-fried with fermented black beans is one of the standard items served at places that sell Teochew porridge.

The dish is different from other fbb-based recipes because it's got a good amount of tomato ketchup.

Ketchup goes well with the salty fragrance of fbb. It adds a sweet and sour dimension not found in fbb dishes that are more traditional.

Kueh Bengka Ubi (I)

Monday, 15 August 2011

I was going to say it takes five minutes to put together a kueh bengka ubi (baked tapioca cake). But, thinking about it as I write, I'd say it takes only 90 seconds if, unlike me, you're not reading the instructions at the same time, and chasing cats out of the kitchen.

Yup, one and a half minutes is all kueh bengka ubi takes, or I'll eat my hat.

Baking time is not included, btw, so please don't say it takes you an hour, and then tell me to eat my hat with sambal. Neither is shopping time or washing up. And I reserve the right to change this agreement any time I like, in whatever way I like. I assume your arms and legs are fully functional and . . . .

Hey, I almost forgot I don't have any hats!

Diced Chicken in Spicy Fermented Tofu Sauce

Friday, 12 August 2011

Fermented beancurd is good stuff. It's gotta be. Otherwise, it wouldn't have survived war, peace, and technological upheavals for more than 2,000 years.

Fermented beancurd is salty, creamy and aromatic. It may be used as a seasoning, or eaten as it is with porridge or rice.

Tired of salting meat with soya sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and plain old salt?

Try fermented beancurd.

If you like chicken, and if you like fermented beancurd, you'd like chicken stir-fried with fermented beancurd. I'm sure of that, like I'm sure your mother is a woman.

DICED CHICKEN IN SPICY FERMENTED TOFU SAUCE (香辣腐乳鸡丁)
(Recipe for 4 persons)

400 g boneless chicken leg, wash and dice 2 cm
Marinade
1½ tbsp white fermented beancurd's pickling liquid
⅓ tsp salt
½ tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1½ tbsp water
Stir-fry
1 tbsp white sesame oil
1 piece ginger, half thumb size, peel, wash and slice thinly
3 cloves garlic, peel, wash and slice thinly
3 bird's eye chillies, wash, trim and slice diagonally 3 mm thick
3 sprigs spring onion (white part), cut 1 cm long
30 g white fermented beancurd, mash
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
Finishing touch
3 sprigs spring onion (green part), cut 1 cm long
¼ tsp white sesame oil

Mix chicken with marinade ingredients till all liquid is absorbed. Marinate for 15 minutes or longer.

Heat 1 tbsp white sesame oil till very hot. Add ginger and stir-fry over high heat till lightly golden. Add garlic, chillies and spring onions (white part). Stir-fry till garlic is also lightly golden. Add fermented beancurd and stir-fry till fragrant. Add chicken and stir-fry till wok is very hot. Drizzle with wine and stir through. Drizzle with 1 tbsp water and stir through again. Add 2 tbsp water and continue stirring – a few minutes would do – till chicken is just cooked (totally opaque and firm), and sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Or leave sauce a bit watery if not eating within 10 minutes, because it thickens as it sits.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat. Sprinkle with spring onions (green part). Stir through. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp sesame oil. Plate and serve immediately.

Pork Stir-Fry with Sesame Oil

Sunday, 7 August 2011

I stir-fry pork with sesame oil. So did my mother, my mother's mother, my mother's mother's mother . . .

I'm guessing that since sesame oil was invented discovered in China –  supposedly some 2,300 years ago during the Three Kingdoms period – Chinese have been cooking pork in it one way or another. 

The version I make is with garlic, ginger, light soya sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and salt. I've done it so many times I can practically do it with my eyes closed.