Stuffing Oneself with Food

So much about trying to blog about my trip while being in Singapore… Now, I am back in Montreal and it has been two weeks! While leaving Singapore and changing the biological clock of my body have been hard, being back in my cosy nest with my dear boy is comforting.  The first week was spent recuperating from jet-lag and I found myself adjusting back to my routine in the second week.  Inevitably, I had to start cooking once again. I am not complaining since I am starting to enjoy the process of stirring up dishes of my preference. However, I do get frustrated when my end product doesn’t satisfy my taste buds.

How can I cook the local yummy cuisines of Singapore and Malaysia? My cousin-in-law who is a chef and runs his own small Chinese restaurant told me as a matter of fact, ‘the food outside tastes great because of mono sodium glutamate (MSG)’.

Part of me refuses to acknowledge this fact of unhealthiness. Yet there is certain truth in the correlation of the tastiness of the food and the amount of salt and MSG found in it. Despite all that is being said, I still miss the food back home! I thought I should just reminisce these glorious food.

Top 10 food I miss in no order of preference:

1. Chilli Crab

DSC_0397

This creature from the sea comes in different shapes and sizes. No doubt, the bigger and heavier it is, the more expensive it gets.  Aside from cooking the crab with chilli sauce, you may have them served with black pepper, salted egg or even butter and milk. Put away the utensils because this dish is best eaten with bare hands. Tuck in!

2, Satay

chicken-satay

You may order a plate of 8, 10, 12 etc. sticks of satay. These are skewered and seasoned meat which are freshly grilled and served when ordered. The common meat used is chicken, beef, pork and mutton. Enjoy this stick of meat with a special peanut sauce together with ketupat (packed rice) and diced onions on the side.

3. Hokkien Noodles

These are fried noodles cooked in Hokkien (Fujian) style. This dish looks simple but the smell is tantalizing and teasing even to the non hungry soul.

4. Chicken Rice

The rice gives off a wave of aroma which is enough to make one salivate. You can choose to have either steam or roasted chicken. Having a mix of both is an option too! In Malacca, instead of a plate of rice, you will be served balls of rice.

4. Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow

This is a dish of stir fried flat rice noodles with light and dark sauce. Other ingredients include bean sprouts, Chinese chives, lap cheong (Chinese sausages) and cockles. Some people react negatively to the cockles because of the distinct taste and smell so do not take it if you do not like it.

6. Fried Oyster Omelette

The omelette consists mainly of small oysters  cooked with a batter of starch and egg. The spicy chilli sauce mixed with lime juice is a must-have as it provides the intense taste.

7. Fried Carrot Cake

This is definitely not the carrot cake that we have at a café as a dessert with cup of aromatic coffee.  Instead, it is made with radish cake, stir-fried with eggs, preserved radish and other seasonings. You can choose the ‘white’ or ‘black’ version. The latter is sweetened by sweet sauce.

8. Popiah

This is one of the healthier dishes and the quantity is just right for females who are afraid of the extra calories. The thin layer of skin is made from wheat flour. The ingredients wrapped in it consist of stir-fried turnip with bean sprouts, French beans and lettuce leaves. If you like it spicy, request for chilli to be included.

9. Teochew Porridge

@ Joo Seng Teochew Porridge

@ Joo Seng Teochew Porridge

Being a teochew girl, I have always enjoyed a bowl of hot teochew porridge with side dishes to go with it. Teochew cuisine is known for its lighter cooking style hence the dishes are usually steamed for example steamed promfet and braised duck. I usually do not stopped until my second bowl of porridge!

10. Xiao Wan Mian (or mini hotpot noodles)

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Nothing fancy about this dish as you can find them in almost any hawker centres but I just love it! It comes with a bowl of soup with meat, fish cakes, crab sticks and an egg in it. Is it important for the noodles to be cooked just right so that it has a chewy texture. Even though Singapore is freaking hot and humid, it doesn’t deter me from having this bowl of delicious hot soup and noodles!

Other must try food are fish soup noodle (with milk), roti prata, wanton noodles, ee-mian, century egg pork porridge and the list goes on.  Those who are thinking of visiting Singapore and Malaysia, you may want to lose a few pounds before the trip as you will put it back on within matters of days.

@ maxwell market

@ maxwell market

Signing off with love,

Esther

The Little Details about Sunny Singapore

Many more details to come… 

I officially touched down in Singapore on the first of February, Friday, 30 minutes after midnight. Despite an hour and a half of delay on my first lap of flight from Montreal to Chicago, I still managed to arrive in Singapore at the designated time. As a waft of local accent floated around me, I breezed through the automated clearance gate knowing that I am home.

What struck me first, needless to say, was the climate. The air smelled different. Instead of the clean, crispy smell of winter, my nose twitched to the strong earthly flavours of heat and humidity. My eye lids grew heavy as I prepared myself for the night. I assumed that my exhaustion from a gruelling 23 hours plane ride would knock me out completely regardless of my environment. Confidently, I chose to do without the AC and left the windows open. My assumptions were wrong. My body reacted to the perturbing heat and city sounds. It had been a long night.

Jet lag struck for the next few days. I was tired both day and night hence I took things slow i.e. I had only one activity a day. On the first official day of landing, I caught up with a girlfriend whom I will not be seeing for a long time. We treated ourselves to local Teochew Porridge. The stall is located opposite Beauty World, Bukit Timah. The second day, we made plans to head down to Chinatown for what I call the ‘Chinatown Squeeze’ (to be elaborated later) and the third day, a simple steamboat at my cousin’s place.

Teochew Porridge

When introducing Singapore, there are three main things to summarize this tiny red dot – the climate, the people and the food. Aforementioned, the climate is one where you feel sticky all the time, like post stick pads. In terms of people, the recent heated debate has been whether Singapore, as a country, is ready to accommodate 6.9 million people by year 2030. This is definitely a conversation for another day as this sole reason is enough to make me grateful to have the opportunity to step out of this congested country. Every year, my family and I have this tradition to head down to Chinatown to bask in the Chinese New Year atmosphere.  Numerous stalls selling various goodies have been set up along the streets resulting in a non stop shopping. The main excitement? To squeeze with the rest of the population while walking down those narrow streets. Imagine heat, humidity and crowd. You wouldn’t want to be caught in there for too long.

Chinatown

 

Chinatown Squeeze

Beside Chinatown, there is a famous food center called Maxwell market where you will be spoilt for choice. You can find many of the local food there such as Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Rojak, Popiah etc. Definitely one of a kind where is it hard to find these flavors anywhere else in the world besides, maybe Malaysia. A shout out to foreigners who are visiting the country, ‘Get a seat before buying your food’. It may not sound like a considerate thing to do but one has to adapt to the culture. I saw quite a few foreigners walking around with their tray of food, lost and exasperated. Les pauvres.

popiahhandmade dumplingsIt is great to be home to spend some time with my family and friends. It is also a good opportunity for appreciate Singapore and its uniqueness. The next few write ups would probably revolve around my home country and its culture so stay tune!

Wishing all a Happy Chinese New Year!

Wishing all a Happy Chinese New Year!

Signing off with love,

Esther