Nyonya Achar

Sunday, 9 January 2011

I learnt how to make achar from my landlady's maid who, when she came and cleaned my place every week, occasionally left me little gifts in the fridge.

I'm usually too shy (yes, really!) to ask anyone for recipes but I liked her achar so much that I did. She not only wrote it down for me but also – bless her! – brought all the ingredients to my place and showed me how.

Sesame #$!☠&☠^♠‡!!! Balls

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I tried making sesame balls, aka 煎堆, last Saturday.

Thought the deep-fried glutinous rice balls coated with white sesame seeds should be quite straightforward. Make a dough with glutinous rice flour, plus a bit of rice flour and sugar. Roll into little balls with a filling inside. Dredge in white sesame seeds. Deep-fry over low heat. Easy peasy.

Pear Sweet Soup (银耳雪梨糖水)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cantonese sweet soups (糖水) are usually served as a dessert, but they're not like desserts in any other culture.

Everyone regards desserts as an evil temptation that they should avoid as much as possible, except the Cantonese. To them, desserts aren't indulgent or sinful but a necessary health tonic for the body.

Lemon Tarts

Sunday, 10 October 2010

When life gives you lemons, make lemon tarts. They're much better than lemonade.

If you don't have free lemons from life, go buy some. Lemon tarts are worth it.

My lemon tarts are very lemony and tart. There's about half a lemon in each small tart.

If you like lemon tarts that aren't tart, this isn't the recipe for you. My tarts aren't for lemon wimps.

Poached Spinach with Salted and Century Eggs

Saturday, 2 October 2010

There're a couple of vegetables I refer to as Chinese spinach. Yin choi (苋菜) is one of them.

I love yin choi because the texture is smooth when I cook it with minimal oil. Other dark green veggies, when they don't have oil, would be gritty.

Yin choi goes well with dried anchovies. I like to do a stir-fry with dried anchovies that have been fried till crispy. That's quite nice.

Yin choi in dried anchovy stock – with maybe some fishballs or pork meatballs – makes a quick, delicious soup.

OCBC, Delight Me!

Saturday, 9 January 2010



The above message is OCBC's response to my email of 6 January, sent by Ms Daisy Er. Since the assuring message is from the Head of Customer Assurance, I'm sure I'm assured assuringly . . . but . . . I'm not sure what I'm assuringly assured of. Sure? Sure! Why not sure? Well, what's the most important part of the email? That Mr Lee isn't poorer by $1.25? Nope. Of course, I'm very relieved I haven't reduced his monthly budget for groceries by the cost of a small pack of sugar but there's something more important. The CEO read my email? Nope. Although that's very nice because he's a very important man. Can't see the most important part of the short message comprising six sentences? Heheh, it's in the middle: ". . . we have identified opportunities when we can delight our customers in their course of banking with us" (emphasis mine). Bloody hell! I don't know what these opportunities are! Why doesn't OCBC tell me what they are after identifying them? They should be listed on OCBC's web site! Then I wouldn't have to crack my little brain, inferring from a TV commercial that the bank gives surprise birthday cakes.

I love the word 'delight'. It's so suggestive, isn't it? Maybe OCBC should change its slogan to "OCBC deee . . . lights you!' (in a sexy, husky voice). Or their branch employees should greet customers with 'OCBC deee . . . lights you!' (in a sexy, husky voice, with eyes half closed). "Delight' . . . conjures up . . . visions of . . . . This is where I'm unsure despite assurance from the Head of Customer Assurance. A keychain? A pen? Oooh, more surprises! I like! I must give OCBC lots of 'opportunities' to 'deee . . . light' me. I will visit them every week. Good thing they're opened late and opened everyday. I've been OCBC's customer for donkey's years and I've never been 'deee . . . lighted'. My birthday last Sunday doesn't count, ok, because I didn't like the cake. I appreciated it but I didn't like it, if you see the difference. Daisy has conveniently and completely side stepped the issue on how the birthday commercial should be interpreted but who cares! My next birthday is 356 days away. There are other 'opportunities'. OCBC, deee . . . light me!

Related links:
Click here for links to media reports.
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbcs-birthday-cake.html
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbc-part-2.html

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Prawn Tom
Yum Soup
Claypot Fish Head Kou Shui Ji
(口水鸡)
Cold Spinach
with Bonito Flakes
.

Don't Ask OCBC for Cakes!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010



Many thanks to those who wish me a happy birthday. Thanks as well to those who support the previous post. As for those who say kudos to the staff at OCBC, I agree with you. The staff reacted well enough, I think. Two of the ladies seemed quite amused. The third one just seemed disinterested after performing her banking duties. I think the gentleman also saw the funny side of the incident. Our conversation basically revolved around whether there was a sufficient basis for the ad to be reenacted. As I said, if he had insisted I had a super cute daughter with me to get a cake, he would have won.

I don't know if the OCBC gentleman paid for the cake out of his own pocket but I've asked David Conner and Andrew Lee, respectively OCBC's group CEO and Senior EVP of Global Consumer Financial Services, to make sure he's reimbursed.



I'd like to point out that I didn't insist on getting a cake from OCBC, technically, at any point in time. I asked if I could get a cake. I was told no, I couldn't. Which was fine. I then asked why I couldn't get a cake. I was told it was because the commercial was just a commercial. Which was also fine. I then asked why OCBC had a commercial about giving away birthday cakes when it didn't have any birthday cakes to give away. If the staff had given me an acceptable explanation, I'd have walked away. Or if they hadn't given me an acceptable explanation (nor a cake), I would then ask OCBC's senior management for one. But I couldn't complain to the CEO without giving the frontline staff a chance to show whether OCBC really gave their customers birthday cakes, right?

Some people say I got a cake from OCBC's employees, not OCBC, and that I shouldn't have tormented the staff when my target was the corporation. I'm sorry, this argument cuts no ice with me. The incident was during OCBC's business hours, the staff were wearing OCBC's uniforms, serving OCBC's customers on OCBC's banking premises. They were representing OCBC whether they like it or not. It's a tough job working in a banking hall but hey, whose job is easy, eh? Other than the President of Singapore? Sure, the frontline staff aren't responsible for the ad. They don't make as much as David Conner. But they know they're getting paid for being the conduit between customers and the bank, which they're a part of. Should they perform only mechanical tasks because they make only $x per month? Any unexpected incidents not listed in the training manual is none of their business? Come on! If they do that, they're no better than machines. And if they're no better than machines, they should be replaced by machines. And bank tellers have been, to some extent. The next wave of workers to be replaced will be those cashiers who mechanically scan, pack and collect the money. Cold Storage Great World City has a lane for those who prefer to scan, pack and swipe a bank card themselves. Such facilities are already quite common in the US.

I think it's a bit over dramatic to say I 'tormented' or 'maimed' (emotionally, I presume) the staff at OCBC, or spoilt their day or weekend. As for those who use the word 'misery', oh please! Misery is when you have a terminal illness. Misery is when your country's at war. Misery is when there's no rice in the house. Misery is when your dog's run over by a car. Misery is when you're homeless in a -10°C winter. A crazy customer making a crazy request? That's a nice distraction from the tedium of being a bank teller. Or a slight irritant at worst. Nevertheless, if I really caused anyone at OCBC any distress, in any minor or major way, I apologise, unreservedly and sincerely. And I suggest they get out of the service industry. If they can't handle crazy customers, they shouldn't handle customers for a living. Or they would have to face many more crazy ones, and cause themselves much 'misery'.

I've enjoyed reading the comments, even those that are are downright rude. I'm perverse, I know. (Hey! No one's used that word on me yet!) There's a diversity of views, which is not a bad thing. But there's one thing we all agree on: the cake's bloody awful!

Ok, over to you, guys. Fire away.

Related links:
Click here for media reports.
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbcs-birthday-cake.html
http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/2010/01/ocbc-delight-me.html

Check these out:
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Ginger
Milk Custard
(薑汁撞奶)
Gingerbread Men Cream Scones Pear and Snow
Fungus Sweet Soup
(银耳雪梨糖水)
.