Tau Suan

Saturday, 27 August 2011


If you know what 豆爽 (tau suan) is, you probably know that 豆 means beans.

What about 爽? What does 爽mean?

'Suan' means sticky soup, which may be savory or sweet. I guess '爽' is another word for  '羹'.

Cooking for the President has an alternative explanation that's quite interesting. 

Kiam Chye Ark (Salted Mustard Greens and Duck Soup)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

When I was looking at recipes for itek teem, I was surprised at the number of ingredients used for the Nyonya soup.

Various Peranakan adaptations of kiam chye ark had pig's trotters, assam skin, brandy, nutmeg, and even sea cucumber.

These were on top of the kiam chye (pickled mustard greens), ark (duck), pickled plums, and tomatoes found in every recipe, Nyonya or Chinese.

It all seemed a bit over-the-top to me, adding so much stuff.

Sayur Lodeh

Monday, 22 August 2011

It was Cook a Pot of Curry Day yesterday because, to cut a long story short, some mainland Chinese with a delicate nose had asked his Singaporean Indian to stop cooking curry. Indignant Singaporeans protested in unison when they heard the story. How dare they tell us not to cook curry! It was a wonderful excuse to tell the mainland Chinese where to shove it, all in the name of protecting the national identity. Before long, Curry Day was organized via Facebook.

There are curries, and there are curries. If it had been a Malay, Nyonya or local Chinese cooking curry next to the mainland Chinese, there probably would have been no dispute. But Indian curries are different when they're not adapted to suit the tastes of the Singaporean Chinese. They have a pungence that's far more powerful than Malay, Nyonya or Chinese-style curries. Chinese Singaporeans call it 'the Indian smell'. For those who don't mince their words, 'smell' may be replaced with 'stink' or 'pong'

Sambal Timun

Friday, 17 June 2011

LinkI like Mrs Wee Kim's sambal timun recipe in Cooking for the President. The magic of the Spicy Pork Cucumber Salad is in the dressing – isn't it always, with salads?

Opposites attract, so bland, tasteless timun (cucumber) and spicy, hot sambal (chilli paste) are the proverbial match made in Nyonya heaven. And when the matchmaker is Mrs Wee, you can be assured it's a particularly blissful match.

Teochew Steamed Fish Head

Saturday, 28 May 2011

What do char kway tiao, or luak, bak chor mee, and Teochew style steamed fish have in common, apart from being Teochew?

Don't know? What if I remove steamed fish from the list, and add or nee, chai tow kway and yam mooncakes? Is it obvious now?

Ladies and gentlemen, all these Teochew dishes have lard – lots and lots of glorious lard!

Marmite Pork Ribs

Friday, 20 May 2011


I'd intended to buy a jar of Marmite to make Marmite Pork Ribs only after I finished some of the sauces and whatnots (which were threatening to spill out of the kitchen into the living room). But my self-discipline crumbled when I saw what a great sense of humour the makers of Marmite have, as the commercial shows.

Love it or hate it? I'd never had Marmite before, and I couldn't wait to find out.

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.

Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Let's see . . . I've done pork ribs with orange, coffee, red yeast wine dregs, fermented black beans, teriyaki sauce, and pickled plums. That's quite a lot already but here's one more: Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs. Yup, tonnes and tonnes of garlic; heaps of garlic; garlic galore!

Compared to the other recipes, steamed garlic pork ribs is really simple, using garlic as its flavouring agent.

Hmm, a bit too simple, perhaps?

Nope, don't worry. As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Don't underestimate the plant that sprouted from Satan's left foot as he was evicted by his landlord.

Steamed Pork Ribs with Pickled Plums

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ribs again, after the last post on coffee pork ribs? Well, that's all I have in the fridge.

The last time I shopped was more than a week ago, before Chinese New Year. I tried to stock up last Sunday but there wasn't anything fresh at all.

The market and supermart were all clearing their leftovers from before the holidays. I'm guessing they'd be clearing their old stocks till this weekend, so I'm following suit. No one's fobbing off stale stuff on me!

Steamed Garlic Prawns (蒜泥蝦)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Prawns make me happy.

Nope, it's not because I'm a glutton, which I am. Nor is it because I love prawns, which I do.

It's because prawns are chock-a-block full of vitamin B12, iron, tryptophan, vitamin D, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, which are all essential for keeping depression at bay.

Soya Sauce Chicken with Rose Essence Wine (玫瑰露豉油鸡)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Shucks, I just realized something.

I should have garnished the chicken with rose petals instead of spring onions since it was made with rose essence wine, 玫瑰露酒.

Well, it's too late now 'cause the chicken is all eaten up.  

Dang! Should have thought of it earlier . . . 

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.

Five-Spice Beancurd Skin

Thursday, 29 July 2010

'Go for it! It's free!' the HR manager said.

The word 'free' reverberated through my head. If I were a cartoon figure, my eyes would have popped out. The HR manager was giving me the ultimatum for the medical check-up under company expense: use it or lose it, by year-end. So I used it, the first ever medical exam in my life.

I did the check-up towards the end of the year, when I was home for the festive season whilst working overseas. Amidst the endless rounds of eating, drinking and shopping, I managed to find time to see my doctor. The various tests took half a day or so, and I just gritted my teeth and went through all of them. Except the one which involved the doctor wearing gloves. Eww! No, thank you!

Black Silkie Chicken Soup

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

After totally discrediting my mother's stir fried liver in a previous post, I thought I should salvage her reputation by featuring something else from her repertoire. Something that has curative powers instead of making someone sick or dead.

The immediate dish that came to mind was a soup made with black chicken, aka Silkie chicken or 乌鸡.

Teochew Porridge

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Making good teochew porridge is very easy. It starts with the choice of rice: new is better than old.

New rice is rice that has just been harvested and has a high starch content whilst old rice has less. If it doesn't say 'new' on the packaging, that means it's old. It's not as good as new but doable if you aren't a porridge fanatic.