Herbal Mutton Soup

Thursday, 7 April 2011

My mother cooked just about everyday, and not once did she cook mutton, lamb or goat anything – not once. Hence, my knowledge of cooking anything that goes 'Meh-eh-heh!' or 'Baa-aaa!' is pretty paltry. I learn on the job which is, if you ask me, a fun way of learning.

Har Cheong Gai (Prawn Paste Chicken) (I)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

There're many types of fermented prawn paste. I could smell this one once the bottle was open.

Phwoar! This is potent stuff!

It wasn't belachan, which is quite harmless until it's toasted or fried.

Nor was it Penang hae ko, which is absolutely benign because it has lots of sugar.

The 'Mee Siam Mai Hum' Mystery

Sunday, 27 March 2011


During one of his speeches a couple of years ago, the Prime Minister said, 'Mee siam mai hum.' He was relating how he would order the noodle dish, mee siam, without cockles.

The PM was perhaps making an attempt to connect with commoners who eat humble stuff, like me. But the speech set tongues wagging, to put it mildly, because mee siam doesn't have cockles, ever.

The harsher critiques thought the PM's little boo-boo showed how disconnected he was with everyday life. But I think there could be another explanation for his culinary faux pas. What he actually wanted to say was mee siam without tamarind, or mee siam mai assam. How do I know that? Take a look at his grandmother's mee siam recipe, extracted from Mrs Lee's Cookbook (Mrs Lee being said grandmother):

Run your eye through the list of ingredients for the gravy. See? There's no assam in Grandma's recipe.


So, confronted with the commoners' version that always comes with assam, the PM would say mee siam mai assam. But that fateful day, no thanks to a slip of the tongue, he said mai hum instead.

That might be one mystery solved, but I'm still scratching my head. Every single mee siam I've ever eaten is slightly tangy with assam. When I have a craving for mee siam, it's the spicy sourness that I long for. Why on earth would anyone make mee siam without assam?

Pandan Chiffon Cake (I)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I'm in the mood for a local cake, and no cake is more local than Pandan Chiffon. I start by comparing recipes from Epicurative, The Best of Singapore Cooking, The Raffles Hotel Cookbook, and the four featured by ieat. I put everything in Excel with the amount of flour in every recipe standardized to 100 g, and all the other ingredients adjusted proportionately. (Yup, I'm a geek, and proud of it.) Here's the spreadsheet (strictly for geeks like me):

Once I'm comparing apples and apples, it's obvious The Best of Singapore Cooking has heap loads of everything, from coconut milk to oil, egg whites, egg yolks, and especially sugar and baking powder. Every . . . single . . . thing! Hmm, doesn't seem right. BSC – out!

Chicken Satay & Peanut Sauce

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Do you know how satay sauce gets its tinge of yellow Turmeric?

Wrong! The golden hue comes from roasted peanuts, which have to be finely ground and boiled to release their colour.

The first round of satay sauce I made was too chunky because the peanuts were all roughly chopped as per the recipe.

Thai Stuffed Chicken Wings

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

If you hate bones as much as this chap who's gritting his teeth, and staring daggers at the person who's making him gnaw his food like  a dog, then . . .

Stuffed Tau Pok with Rojak Sauce

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Working out the recipe for Chinese rojak didn't seem like work since it didn't involve any cooking. In fact, stirring and tasting was my kind of entertainment.

Once I figured out how it was done, I wolfed down a huge bowl of fruits and vegetables. That was my '5 a day' as per doctor's orders, in one shot.