Posts in Singapore
Rojak (Jicama and Pineapple Salad)

I think of this as a savory fruit salad. Something completely different and a great foil to heavier foods or a boring Sunday afternoon.

Rojak

Rojak (Jicama and Pineapple Salad)

Adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

For the Dressing
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
¼ cup tamarind water (combine 1/4 cup hot water with 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, let rest for at least 10 minutes, squeeze pulp and strain)
2 fresh their chiles coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons palm sugar, thinly sliced (or dark brown sugar)
3 tablespoons Indonesian sweet soy sauce

For the Salad
1 small jicama, peeled
½ medium-sized green mango
¼ small unripe papaya
1/3 pineapple
2 small Kirby cucumbers
1 unripe guava (optional)

 For the Topping
½ cup unsalted skinned roasted peanuts

1. Place all dressing ingredients in small food processor and blend into a smooth paste/ dressing. Add additional water a little at a time to make a smoother consistency if needed.  
2. Cut jicama, mango, papaya, pineapple,  and cucumber in small spears or but size pieces.
3. Add all fruits and veggies to a large bowl and mix to distribute. Add ¾ of the dressing, mix and taste. Add additional dressing and salt as needed.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle peanuts on top. Serve right away.

Singapore GP 2018: Chili Braised Prawns, Coconut Rice, and Stir Fried Greens

Hamilton continues to pull away in the championship and races continue to be textbook.

Want something less than textbook? How about Char Kway Teow that comes together crazy quick and some yummy Singaporean side dishes to spice up your kitchen?

Char Kway Teow
Prawns

Red Chili Braised Prawns

Adapted from Martin Yan’s Asia: Favorite Recipes from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan

Spice Paste
1 stalk lemongrass, use bottom 6 inches, thinly sliced
2 fresh red jalapeños, seeded
1 small shallot
3 slices ginger, quarter sized
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ inch piece of galangal, sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water

 ¾ pound large prawns, shelled and deveined, tails in tact
2 green onions, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup diced fresh pineapple
1 ½ cups seafood broth
2 teaspoons tamarind water (combine ½ cup hot water with 2 ½ tablespoons tamarind pulp)
Soy sauce

1. Combine all spice paste ingredients in food processor or blender.

2. Place wok over medium-low heat until hot. Add shrimp and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add green onions and pineapple; mix well. Add seafood broth and tamarind water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until shrimp are cooked, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with soy sauce.

3. Place in a deep serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 inch piece of ginger
2 inch piece of lemon grass, lightly crushed

1. Rinse rice well in strainer.
2. Add to rice cooker. Add coconut milk, water, and salt and stir. Top with ginger and lemongrass.
3. Cook, using rice cooker instructions.

Asian greens

 Stir-fried Asian Greens

Adapted from Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia by James Oseland

1 medium bunch Asian greens such as bok choy, water spinach, or choy sum
3 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled slightly crushed, chopped into chunks
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 red thai chiles

 1. Clean greens and dry completely
2.  Chop greens into 2 ½ to 3 inch pieces as needed
3.  Heat the oil in a large wok or Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the garlic, salt, and chiles. Sti fry 1 minute. Don’t let the garlic brown.
4.  Add the greens. Raise heat slightly and immediately begin stir-frying greens vigorously around the pan. Stir0fry until greens are limp but still bright green. Taste for salt and only add a little if needed.
5.  Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.





Singapore Sling

This is one of my all time favorite cocktails. I know, I know, you can't just come out and make a claim like that. But honestly, this drink is so delicious I want to shout off roof tops about it. 

Apparently the Singapore Sling is a hotly debated cocktail with a hundred origin stories and no agreement on what the original recipe is nor what the best modern version is. The only agreement seems to be that it is to this day the "house" drink at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and that the version they serve there is sickenly sweet and undrinkable.  Even so, I have to thank them for popularizing it, and thank mixologists over the decades for making it properly delicious.

 

Singapore Sling

Adapted from a picture I took of a recipe from my brother! 

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Peter Heering Cherry Heering
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/4 Benedictine
3 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
Dash of Angostura bitters
Orange Slice for garnish
Cherry for garnish (preferrably Luxardo)

Combine the gin, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple and lime juices, and bitters in a cocktail shake and shake well. (Hold on tight, the pineapple juice foams and you don't want it flying everywhere!) Strain into a highball glass and garnish with orange slice and cherry. 

 

Another version from Serious Eats, sounds intriguing it has no pineapple juice and adds a splash of sparkling water. Maybe I'll try that the next time around. Or maybe I'll just stick with this recipe because as I started off by saying... Best Cocktail Ever. 

If you want to know more about the multitudinous "historical origins" of this lovely cocktail check out this article on The Spruce

Singapore GP - Chili Crab & Char Kway Teow

The Singapore Grand Prix, always delivers in style and excitement. However, this year's race, despite the sparkling lights, awesome grid line up, and promising race prospects ended in a blaze of glory before even turn one. Watching Hamilton float around the track in front felt like nothing new and Vettel may very well have lost himself the championship. But unlike the race which was disappointingly brief in it's excitement, these dishes are anything but boring. 

It is hard to say what is truly "Singaporean" cuisine. What I do know is that Singaporean cuisine is vibrant, complex, and incorporates many different cultures including influences Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan and Western traditions. I tried my best for this race to find some definitively Singaporean dishes. See what you think!

Kaya Toast and Soft Boiled Eggs

Kaya Toast and Soft Boiled Eggs

Everywhere you look you find Kaya Jam being a singularly Singaporean thing. It is an extremely popular breakfast of a coconut/egg jam (??) spread on toast and is generally served with soft boiled eggs and soy sauce. Turns out to be pretty delicious. 

 

I've also found that wrapping things up in pretty little packages seems to be a common thread, so I also made Popiah, which is a fresh spring roll with sautéed veggies and crunchy goodies all wrapped inside.

 

Popiah

Popiah

Last but not least for main courses, noodle dishes and seafood including Chili Crab show up in a good amount of the research I did. Though Char Kway Teow is not solely Singaporean (it stems from Chinese cuisine), it is very common and well known in Singapore (according to... the internet -- where I get most of my facts!) Chili Crab seems on the other hand to be properly Singaporean and though it has both Malay and Chinese influences it appears to be defined as a Singapore dish. 

 

In the end, my indecision and over zealousness at 99 Ranch paid off with a whole day of Singapore dishes! You can reap the rewards with lots of options and ideas to choose from. 


This race post will come in four installments:

Breakfast: Kaya Toast
Lunch: Popiah (Fresh Spring Rolls)
Dinner: Chili Crab and Char Kway Teow
Cocktail: Singapore Sling 

 

Singaporean Chili Crab

From Serious Eats

1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 to 3 shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2-inch knob ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
4 Thai chiles, minced
2 whole Mud or Dungeness crabs (about 1 pound each), (steamed, cleaned and cracked)
2 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup hot-sweet chili sauce (ABC chili sauce is a great choice)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Rice or steamed chinese buns to serve on side

1. In small bowl, stir cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water; set aside. In large wok with lid (or Dutch oven), heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in shallots, ginger, garlic, and chilies. Cook until fragrant, stirring, about 1-2 minutes.

2. Add broth. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Add crab pieces and cover pot loosely, reduce heat and gently simmer, until crab is heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove cover and stir in tomato paste and chili sauce. Simmer 1 minute and season to taste with salt, sugar, or chili sauce. Stir in cornstarch and bring to boil to thicken.

4. Remove from heat and stir in egg. Stir in green onions. Ladle into serving dish, and serve.

Char Kway Teow

Adapted from Taste.com.au

1/2 pound chicken thigh fillets, chopped
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 fresh red thai chilli, finely chopped (or more if you like some heat)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
3 cups baby bok choy, sliced in half (or quarters if large)
10 green prawns, peeled, deveined
1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh flat rice noodles
1 cup bean sprouts
4 green onions, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce

1. Combine chicken, oyster sauce and cornflour in a bowl.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add chilli, garlic, and shrimp paste, and stir-fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.

3. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes or until brown and just cooked through.

4. Add the noodles and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

5. Add baby bok choy and continue to stir fry for 2-3 more minutes, cover to produce some steam, cook until noodles and bok choy are just tender. 

6. Add prawns and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until prawns curl and change color.

7. Add the bean sprouts, green onions, soy sauce and additional oyster sauce and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Popiah (Fresh Spring Rolls)

I love all kinds of Spring Rolls. Fresh Thai spring rolls with shrimp or tofu dipped in sweet chili or peanut sauce, fried Chinese spring rolls with cabbage and carrots dipped in sweet and sour sauce, Philipino lumpia with their crispy edges and delicious porkiness. We often make spring rolls at home with rice paper wrappers and fresh ingredients like rice noodles, lettuce, mint, basil, shredded carrots, and mung bean sprouts. So easy and so tasty. 

This style of spring roll was new to me and can definitely be added to my list of "yes, please!"

The wrappers are more papery and less sticky than what I think of as the traditional fresh spring roll wrappers (such as these -- also from The Spruce). And the filling, though cooled and served room temperature or cold, is a mix of cooked veggies and pork or shrimp rather than raw. The best addition are all the crispy crunchies! To give these rolls awesome texture the recipe calls for crushed peanuts and fried crispy onions, both of which you can make or buy at an Asian grocer. 

I have a couple tips from my shopping/ making experience:

1. If you can find Lumpia wrappers they are perfect for this (and can be used to make crispy-fried lumpia later on if you don't use them all for this recipe.)

2. You can make the cooked veggie mix the day before or the morning of, so that you don't have to wait for it to cool before eating... because waiting is just plain hard. 

3. I discovered ABC chili sauce (for another recipe) and it is delicious in these, not too spicy and complements the hoisin sauce really well.

4. If you have picky eaters in your family you can always make the rolls with just the lettuce and the veggie mix and let people top or dip in sauces and crunchy bits! 

 

Popiah

From The Spruce

12 large spring roll wrappers (thawed, if frozen)
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup chili sauce
12 lettuce leaves
12 tablespoons crushed peanuts
12 tablespoons fried onions

Popiah filling
 2 tablespoons cooking oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 cup julienned jicama
1 cup julienned carrot
2 cups julienned cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced green beans
1 cup (or more) of chopped cooked pork or chopped raw shelled shrimp (or a combination)
fish sauce, to taste
1/4 cup chicken or shrimp broth

To make filling

1. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Saute the garlic and shallots until fragrant.

2. Add the vegetables and meat. Stir fry until the vegetables soften.

3. Add the remaining ingredients (fish sauce and broth) and cook over high heat until steaming. Cover, lower the heat and cook over medium-low heat for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

4. Transfer the popiah filling to a strainer set over a bowl. Allow to cool and drain completely. (Do not take short cuts with this step. Still warm and too wet filling will make the popiah soggy.)

5. (Optional) If using mung bean sprouts, rinse first then blanch in boiling water for ten seconds. Scoop out then plunge in ice water. Drain completely.

To make Popiah:

Lay a wrapper flat.

Smear half a teaspoonful of hoisin sauce down the middle.
Add a drizzle of chili sauce.

Lay a lettuce leaf on top of the sauce.

Spoon the drained filling on top of the lettuce leaf.

Add all your garnishes of choice.

Wrap the popiah.

Keep on wrapping! 

In case you've stuck around, here is my first adventure into jackfruit (non-dried, non-jellied) at home! 

I had to Google "how to open jackfruit" just to figure out what to do with the thing. They are massive fruit, this pictured here is about a quarter to an eighth of one. They ooze this sticky white goop that you barely notice until your hands and knife no longer move freely and you are stuck to the counter (one of the tips that I ignored was to oil your working surface, knife, hands, and anything that comes in contact with the fruit.) Once you get into the thing you basically cull through the flower parts and dig out the seed pods which you can see on the right. As you eat them you pull the seeds out from the centers (which apparently you can boil and they taste like potatoes??) However much hassle and stickiness it brings with it, it is worth it because jackfruit is DELICIOUS. A little pungent and definitely different, but delicious. 

Kaya Toast

Kaya toast is an extremely popular breakfast and snack throughout Singapore and Malaysia. The combination of sweet, salty, savory, protein and carbs really has it all. You can buy Kaya jam premade in a jar at an Asian grocer, but that misses the fun.

Kaya Jam with Toast and Soft Boiled Eggs

From Serious Eats

Kaya Jam

4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups coconut cream, divided (1 regular size can - make sure it is coconut cream, not coconut milk)
5 ounces palm sugar, grated or finely chopped

Toast and Soft-Boiled Eggs (for two)

4 eggs
4 slices toasted bread
soy sauce and white pepper for serving

To make Kaya Jam:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks with 1/4 cup coconut cream; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat palm sugar over medium-low heat until melted. Cook, stirring occasionally until sugar has caramelized to a deep golden brown, 3 to 6 minutes.

3. Carefully whisk in remaining 1 1/4 cups coconut cream. Heat mixture, stirring until smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly (foaming will have subsided and large, slow bubbles will form at the surface), about 8-12 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and whisk half of mixture into yolk mixture. Return everything to saucepan and gently heat over medium low heat until mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding. Strain into container and chill until cold and set, at least 4 hours.

To make soft-boiled eggs:

1. Bring enough waterto cover eggs, to a rapid boil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Remove from heat and immediately and add eggs by gently lowering with a slotted spoon. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove one egg from saucepan and carefully crack into a small bowl. If egg is cooked perfectly with no transparent whites, remove other eggs from saucepan. If necessary, allow other eggs to remain for 1 to 2 minutes longer. When ready, remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon. (See note above)

2. Toast 4 slices of bread. Spread kaya jam over two slices of toast and close with remaining two slices. Cut into triangles or fingers. Serve toast and kaya jam with eggs, along with soy sauce and white pepper for seasoning.

Note: The recipe above leaves out the authentic pandan flavoring because my local 99 Ranch did not have pandan leaves only "pandan essence", which in my experience mostly leaves a bitter taste rather than the herbaceous one the recipe is aiming for. If you can find pandan leaves, you can add them (tied in a knot) in the step in which you add the remaining coconut milk and cook down for 8-12 minutes, they will add flavor to the mixture as it cooks. Remove them before adding in the eggs and finishing the jam. 

Singapore Grand Prix Preview

Singaporean cuisine is vibrant, complex, and incorporates components of so many different cultures including influences from the native Malays, as well as Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan and Western traditions.  Wikipedia even states, “In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread. Singaporean literature declares eating a national pastime and food a national obsession.”

Singapore is on my short list of far-off countries to visit. As well as my short list for F1 races to go to. My husband and I stated on the count of three our top four race destinations: Montreal, Austin, Spa, Singapore. Word for Word. Montreal, because, well, Montreal: Canada, Joe Beef, Hiking, an awesome racetrack. Austin because it is the closest to home and for lack of a better description it is the San Francisco of Texas, which sounds like a great description to me! Spa because that is where a large part of my husband's family came from and where many of them still live, also because any possible reason to go the Ardennes and the home of the best beer in the world is a good one. 

And Singapore... well maybe this Ferrari poster will START to tell you why. 

Or maybe you need to watch some early episodes of Anthony Bourdain where he raves about the food and slurps noodle dishes with abandon while barely noticing the cameras are there, he is in such foodie heaven. 

Or perhaps it is the race itself. It is the first night race in F1 and it is hands down gorgeous. The lights gleaming, the larger than life Ferris wheel sparkling, the cars careening around the track, it is one of the all-time best F1 spectacles. 

I cannot wait to make food for this race. On the docket so far are:

Singaporean Chili Crab
Popiah (Spring Rolls)
Char Kway Teow (Wide Rice Noodles with Pork and Prawns)
Soft-Cooked Eggs with Kaya Jam and Toast
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Mango pudding

Hmm... I might need to cut down on that list. But I am absolutely sold on making Char Kway Teow and Singaporean Chili Crab. If I find myself lost in the aisles of 99 Ranch (which is highly likely) I might just try to make it all!