Monday, April 30, 2007

Geylang Serai Temporary Food Centre, Singapore

Since the new Geylang Serai Market is estimated to be completed only in March 2009, most of the tenants have been relocated to a temporary setup opposite the Malay Village.

Malay cuisine is the obvious thing to go for when you're here. We started with some selections from this nasi padang (mixed Malay rice) stall.

Fried beef in a spicy local salsa. The beef was had a good chew almost akin to a jerky and the salsa provided quite a nice kick.

The beef rendang though fairly fragrant paled in comparison to the one along Kiliney Road in both taste and texture.

This was selected for us when we asked for a recommendation after ordering the beef rendang. Only when we were back at our table did we realize that this was chicken rendang. I just thought it was rather odd that the owner would recommend a rendang dish which tasted pretty much the same as the first one we selected.

There's more than one stall here selling ayam penyat (smashed chicken) as well. Most of crowd seem to be ordering from Kurnia at #1-362, so we did as well. This chicken thigh was really half-heartedly smashed, but at least the chili sauce provided was rather good.

The chicken rice that came along wasn't too bad either. In fact it was rather fluffy without being too greasy.

We decided to supplement the meal with some satays and boy were we pleasantly surprised with these from Selera Nusantara (#1-348). The tripe was pretty good and had a decent chew but the lamb satays took the cake being extremely juicy and tasty. I'll definitely come back for more these.

After the meal, we scouted around for something sweet and found this little stall that specialized in cendol and nothing more. I guess their sign speaks for themselves.

Although it may look pretty thin here, this was actually one of the better cendols I've had in Singapore. Sure, it doesn't really come close to those in Malacca and I did see them mixing fresh coconut cream with tetrapak ones but I guess beggars can't be choosers.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

The New Harbour Cafe & Bar, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore

The New Harbour Cafe & Bar (Tel : 6226 2657) is located at 114 Tanjong Pagar Rd. Not too far away from Cheng Li Yuan. During Singapore's colonial era (yes, apparently those days are over haha), a lot of Westerners had Hainanese domestic helpers including cooks as well. As such, the art for Western cuisine has been pretty well adapted and honed by the local Hainanese population. The New Harbour Cafe and Bar is an example of such an establishment which does Hainanese-Western food.

The servings here are substantial, which is a big plus for me when it comes to dining. The Hainanese pork chops were fried with a nice crispy coat without being too greasy. The tomato-based gravy also provided a decent alternative to catsup. Another option which was quite a nice gesture was the choice of either fries or mash as the sides. I asked for "chips" (as I'm used to calling fries, chips) and was quite amused that there were actually some potato crisps on the plate as well!

The pork chops with apple sauce was also delightfully tender and tasty with nice little bits of charred edges. Pork and apple, I can never reiterate how much I love that combo.

I don't normally order roast pork outside because I make my own but this was recommended so I gave it a shot. Not too shabby indeed. The crackling was evenly crisp and crunchy without being hard and each slice had just the right balance of fat and lean meat for a juicy and succulent chew.

Noticing that we had pretty much ordered pork for all the mains, we decided to share a grilled squid. This was pretty well grilled too, cooked without being rubbery, the local chili paste provided complemented it rather well.

This place isn't without some hangups. They don't serve plain water and parking can be a bit of a problem. Other than that, the reasonable prices (mains are less than 18sgd), decent taste and generous serves are enough for me to come back again.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Jang Shou Korean Charcoal BBQ, Esplanade Mall, Singapore

Another Korean barbecue has opened at the Esplanade Mall and since I was here for a show, I decided to drop by.

This grill here is a hybrid gas-charcoal one. The charcoal is evident to impart that smokey aroma but the strength of the flame is still controlled by a gas burner.

Like most of the Korean barbecues in town, there's quite a variety of sidedishes. The kimchis were decent but I liked the aubergine and pumpkin the most.

Even before tasting the chal dol bak-i (thinly sliced beef brisket), I knew I would like it just by the sight of the streaky amounts of fat.

You can opt to DIY or have the server cook the meats. These thin slices cook extremely fast, so a quick sear on each side is all you need.

Wrap the sizzling beef in a lettuce leaf with some pickled onion, raw garlic, chili bean paste and we're ready to have a little tasty parcel.

The suwon neobiani (marinated beef rib) is basically marinated sweetly (as with most marinated Korean barbecue meats). The beef was ok but I would rather still stick to unmarinated meats to taste that pure beefy flavor. The dipping sauce of sesame oil and salt and pepper did help dampen the sweetness.

The pork galbi (rolled pork rib) was up next.

The rib is rolled out onto the grill first.

Prior to being cut up into little pieces. I enjoyed this a bit more than the marinated beef because it was less sweet. All in all, Jang Shou provides a pretty decent meal. The number of Korean expatriates dining here may be testimonial to their authenticity. One thing they didn't have was ox tongue (more Japanese in origin?) though. Korean marinated meats are great for those who love sweet meats and to be fair to Jang Shou, the marinated meats I had in Korea were just as sweet as well, so I ought to stick to the plain ones.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ANZAC Biscuits

Today, the 25th of April, is ANZAC day which commemorates the ANZAC soldiers who fought in Gallipoli during the first Great War. ANZAC is an acronym for the "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps". One of the earliest rations these soldiers had were hardtack sweet biscuits which were first known as "Soldiers' Biscuits" but since these biscuits were pretty much synonymous with only the ANZAC forces, they soon came to be known as "ANZAC Biscuits". These biscuits are tasty and quite addictive, not to mention really easy to make.

1. Roasted halved hazelnuts (optional)
2. Dessicated grated coconut
3. 1 cup brown sugar
4. 1.5 cups plain flour
5. 1.5 cups rolled oats (you may use quick oats as well)
6. 3 Tbsp golden syrup (you may subtitute with honey or thick maple syrup)
7. 2 Tsp baking soda
8. 250g butter
9. 3 Tbsp boiling water
10. A pinch of salt

1. If you're doing it the hardcore way by dessicating your own grated coconut, do so until it turns pale brown

2. Mix all hazelnuts, dessicated coconut, brown sugar, flour and rolled oats in a bowl
3. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, water, baking soda, salt and golden syrup till smooth

4. Fold in the dry mix into the wet mix and knead gently until a doughy consistency is formed, if it's too wet, add more flour, if it's too dry add some olive oil (extra water tends to make the biscuits less crunchy)

5. Using a table-spoon to measure the biscuit volume, roll them into balls like these and place on your baking tray

6. Bake at 180degC for about 15-20 minutes, till medium brown

7. Remove from the oven and place the biscuits on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes prior to consumption

1. Biscuits (Cookies) tend to brown a little more after being removed from the oven due to the residual internal heat
2. Cooling the biscuits is required for them to obtain that crunch

Serve them on their own or even better, with a glass of milk!

-Lest We Forget-


Monday, April 23, 2007

Kim San Seafood, Bukit Panjang, Singapore

I always enjoy finding nice eateries away from the city. A close friend brought me here for dinner and the food is consistently tasty and reasonably priced. Although this joint operates out of a coffeeshop most of the patrons here are theirs. They've even extended the seating way out to accomodate more customers.

The mayonnaise prawns were large, crisp on the outside, crunchy and juicy within. The mayonnaise was not overly sweet which was a good thing. This reminded me of those bacon prawns from Canton Wok. Quite a tasty appetizer.

Juicy squid in a crisp batter casing. Salty, greasy and crispy. What more could I ask for?

Stir-fried "big head" clams in a spicy local chili gravy. The gravy is great to stir into piping hot steamed white rice.

Although just slightly bland, this beancurd dish with preserved cuttlefish, prawns, fish and vegetables was refreshingly clean compared to the deep-fried dishes.

I was worried that the chicken cooked with preserved vegetables would be too salty, but fortunately my fears were unfounded.

They must have thoroughly soaked the preserved vegetables to reduce the salt content before baking it with the chicken. In fact, this was extremely fragrant and the bird being cooked in its own juices was delightfully tender and succulent.

Yam ring, another dish I didn't really appreciate as a kid but have somehow learnt to reconnect with. This is done pretty well here together with generous chunks of chicken and shelled prawns.

We ended the meal on another clean note with some stir-fried broccoli. Fresh, crunchy and sweet. Its natural flavor speaks for itself.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Grilled Pork Chops with Potato and Apple Gratin

Although I tend to be more of a red meat person, I occasionally have preferences for pork. Pork is classified as "white meat", so technically it's healthier than beef but from the sight of my chop of porcine splendor, I think I may stand corrected haha. I don't usually appreciate the desecration of meat with fruit. Of the rare exceptions; apple with pork would be one of them.

1. A good porker
2. Shredded cheeses
3. Apples (Granny Smiths are better but I only had Fujis)
4. Potatoes
5. Gratin matrix (Yorkshire pudding mix sans parmesan)
6. Salt, pepper, spices, herbs
7. Butter
8. Honey
9. Ground cinnamon

1. Slice potatoes and apples into fine layers (use a skin peeler for this, it works perfectly)
2. Grease some plates generously with butter

3. Put a layer of potato followed by some of the shredded cheese (I used a mix of Italian parmesan, smoked cheddar and mozzarella - the same mix I use for pizzas)

4. Alternate the layer with apple slices and more cheese

5. Repeat the alternating layers till you hit the top. Pour just enough gratin matrix to penetrate the nooks and crannies and stop once it just reaches the surface

6. Bake them in the oven at 180degC (non-fan forced) till pale brown

7. Use the opportunity to grill the chops. I seasoned these with salt, pepper and some dried spices (paprika, oregano and basil) 15 minutes prior

8. Took this picture with the lights switched off just to illustrate the intensity of the heat. Ok... I'll admit it... I just like playing with fire haha

9. When the gratin is pale-brown, remove from oven and drizzle a glaze made from honey mixed with cinnamon and butter
10. Place the gratin back in the oven under grill-mode till the surface is nicely caramelized and golden-brown

Serve hot! I'm rather traditional when it comes to eating pork. I have to cook it well-done. But this breed of pork and that nice charred bit of fat didn't make this taste the least tough and dry at all.

I think the side of gratin deserves to share center stage with the meat tonight. Alternating layers of tart apple and potato held together by melted cheese and topped with a sweet honey-cinnamon glaze. Absolutely lovely.