MICHELIN-STARRED SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN

Will you queue to eat Michelin-starred hawker food?  And how long are you prepared to queue?

Well, I have decided to give it a try when I was in Chinatown recently, although I don’t normally like to queue too long for food.  It turned out to be a good 45-minute wait during non-peak hours (after 3pm), on a weekday.  Perhaps this is considered not too long the wait, given its popularity way before being awarded one Michelin star last year.

S$12 for half a soya sauce chicken and S$6 for a mixture of char siew and roast pork.  Very affordable prices for its “status”. 

img_2910

img_2911

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle – one of the two hawker food stalls that was awarded one Michelin star in 2016.  The other was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.

img_2900

img_2901

The queue was divided into two parts : one in the air-con area inside the shop and the rest outside

I noticed that the queue was made up of mostly foreigners/tourists.  How not to be attracted to this cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world if you are touring Singapore?!  Moreover it is the first time in the Michelin history that an Asian street food has been given this prestigious award.

It took me about 25 minutes just to have my take-away order taken, and then another 20 minutes to wait for my order to be ready.  There were no separate queues for eat-in and take-away customers but overall the queue was moving smoothly and the wait was pleasant.  🙂

A very pleasant, senior-in-age male staff  who was in charge of clearing and getting ready the tables for the eat-in customers, doubled-up his roles in managing the queue too.  He was so nice to even offer me a stool to sit at one corner while I was waiting to collect my order.   Such a nice gesture of customer care has definitely won my heart!  I just hope that this uncle’s job is not too strenuous for his age.

I wonder how many chickens, and how many kilos of roast pork and Char Siew are sold each day?!

img_2906

Basically there is a good numbering system for order-taking and collection of food/order.  There was even a self-service order station!  Cool!  Unfortunately, it was under utilised based on my observation.  Most people seemed to still prefer the manual ordering system over the cashier counter.  I also noted that the staffs were pleasant, friendly and efficient.

img_2908

img_2909

So, was it worth my 45-minute wait?  Yes, definitely!  While hubby and I think that the char siew was quite good, the roast pork was nice but nothing spectacular.  The star i.e. the soya sauce chicken, was definitely outstanding.  The meat was tender, sweet and has a nice herbal fragrance.  Oh, I also love the chilli which has a very shiok sourish taste that went very well with the chicken!

Together with my home-cooked Chinese spinach soup, we had a lovely dinner that day.  I would surely want to go back again someday and to eat there instead.

HOME-MADE CHAR SIEW

I have not been eating pork since my secondary school days.  I am not a vegetarian (as you can see from my postings on food) and I can never be one since I love seafood.  It is also not due to any religious reason but a scary story about some sort of bacteria found in pork (if not cooked properly) that my biology teacher told the class in my secondary school.  Since I trusted my teacher (and I suppose all students do), and there was no way to verify the truth of that story then (internet was not available yet), I became paranoid and kiasi (a Hokkien word meaning afraid to die).  So I stopped eating pork completely.

Many years later, I did try to eat a bit of pork again but I have somehow become very sensitive to its smell, and still don’t feel comfortable eating it.  Memory of that scary story can’t seem to go away too, even after such a long time.  So, you can imagine that my hubby has been deprived of pork at our dining table but I am trying to make a change, though not a drastic one.  I began to cook pork in recent years but only very occasionally, so that hubby can have some rare treats.  I had been able to do only two pork dishes – Lor Bak (Chinese braised pork) and Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs soup with herbs and spices).  A few months ago, I expanded my list of pork dishes a little bit by adding Char Siew onto it.  It was my third time making Char Siew yesterday, so we had Char Siew rice with braised beancurd for dinner.  I could see that hubby was satisfied with it, and of course, that made my day.

Hubby’s portion with a lot more Char Siew. 

Char Siew Rice01

My Char Siew was prepared with reference to the recipe found on this website called Guai Shu Shu (click here for the recipe and instructions).

I used fresh pork fillets which are normally lean and suitable for Char Siew, according to the butcher in the Fairprice Finest outlet that I went to.  About 250g only.

IMG_6498

Pork was marinated with lots of ingredients as per the recipe with quantity adjusted to fit the amount of pork used.  I also used less five-spice powder and sugar but more honey, and I did not use the red fermented beancurd since that’s more for colouring effect.

IMG_6500

The meat was kept in the chiller for 3 days.  I took it out every day to toss it around in order to get a more even marination.

IMG_6503

I used a different method to cook it.  It was a two-step method which I came across somewhere on the internet.

Firstly, it was cooked in a wok, using small fire, until the gravy turned thick (see next photo), and then it was roasted

IMG_6529

IMG_6532

Since I didn’t have skewers, I used bamboo sticks instead.  A cake tray lined with aluminium foil was used to hold the sticks.  The cooked meat was brushed with honey before being put into the oven.

IMG_6535

It was roasted at 180 degree Celsius for about 8 mins, brushed with another layer of honey, and put back in the oven for another 7 mins. 

IMG_6539

IMG_6543

You would probably wonder why I put a layer of aluminium each in the baking tray and also on the chopping board (above).  That was just to make it easy for my cleaning.  Just see how dirty the base of the tray was after the Char Siew was removed.  It would be a chore to scrub the dirt off.

IMG_6541

The Char Siew tasted great but I would say it didn’t have the same exact taste as the Char Siew bought from stalls.  The missing reddish look did not really matter.  So, it was nice to be able to have home made Char Siew this way.

HOME-MADE SHIOZAKE (SALTED SALMON FILLETS)

Shiozake (salted salmon) and saba shioyaki (grilled salted mackerel) are dishes that hubby and I always enjoy when we travel in Japan, especially during our last trip earlier this year.  We had a lot of them.  They are commonly served in breakfast, be it a traditional Japanese breakfast or a buffet breakfast.

A traditional Japanese breakfast with shiozake at Daiichi Takimoto-kan in Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido (2013)

Japanese Breakfast

Buffet breakfast with shiozake, saba shioyaki and other side dishes at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (2015)

Buffet Breakfast

On return from our long 19-day holiday in Japan earlier this year, I decided to try to make my very own version of shiozake but my first attempt was not successful.  It was not tasty, and I couldn’t get that firm flesh texture effect like those we had in Japan.  Obviously my method was wrong.  I shall not elaborate more here, to save my embarrassment. 😀

Not wanting to give up, I decided to search around the internet for a recipe.  I also don’t like the idea of buying the ready-salted ones from the supermarket.

Thanks to this recipe from Just One Cookbook (by Namiko Chen) with its very clear step by step instructions (please click on the link above for the details, if you are interested).  I finally succeeded in having my home-cooked salted salmon this week! 🙂  They tasted just like what we had in the hotels in Japan.  The flesh has a firm texture and the skin was crispy.

Shiojake01

The preparation is easy.  All you need are (diagonally sliced) salmon fillets, Japanese cooking rice wine and salt.  That simple.  Since I happened to have some lemon zest,  I sprinkled a little on the fillets but that actually didn’t make any difference to the taste.  So I will do away with it next time.

Shiojake02

Salted salmon neatly stacked in two layers, separated with kitchen paper towels; in an air-tight container and kept in the chiller

Shiojake03

After 3 days.  I used a baking tray instead of a parchment-lined baking sheet (as per instruction) to bake them,  for slightly over 20 minutes at 200 degree Celsius.

Shiojake04

Together with a bowl of porridge, and a plate of stir-fried vegetables, they made a hearty meal for hubby and I.  Our requirement for a meal is that simple. 🙂

Shiojake05

I am just so glad that I know how to prepare shiozake in the correct way now. I can now have it at home anytime when I have the craving, and without having to wait until my next holiday in Japan. 🙂

ZHAI CAI 斋菜

A friend of mine has been somewhat troubled over what to prepare for an upcoming gathering on Chinese New Year.  It is good to see that members of her family and extended families are still keeping up with the tradition of a big family gathering on this special occasion, and this year, her mum is playing host for the first time.  What makes it difficult is that some of her relatives are vegetarians, thus a need to take their diet choice into consideration when preparing the food.

I suggested a couple of dishes to her. One of them is a simple stir-fry mixture of mushrooms (such as Shiitake, Buna-shimeji, Enokitake & Bunapi-shimeji) with mushroom sauce.

Mixed Mushrooms

The other is none other than Zhai Cai (斋菜), a Cantonese dish which my family eats on the first day of Chinese New Year.  This is like a family tradition since I was a kid. I have written about this (斋菜) in 2009.  My mum is still keeping this tradition till this day, and I had been doing the same (since I don’t live with her) until very recent years when hubby and I began to spend Chinese New Year outside Singapore.

Zhaicai

It happened that I was already planning to savour some Zhai Cai before hubby and I leave for our holiday early next week.  So, I decided to come out with this video to share with my friend, and of course anyone who is interested in it, on how I cook this dish.

It is just one week to Chinese New Year now.  Hope you find my video helpful.

MEE HOON KUEH

Long long ago (OK, I mean many months ago 🙂 ), hubby requested for Mee Hoon Kueh, a soup-based local food traditionally made manually from flour dough, and pinching it into small flat pieces.  Today, most (if not all) of the Mee Hoon Kueh sold in food centres are machine-made, thus generally squarish in shape and even in thickness.

I know it has taken me too long, so I finally made it for dinner this week, all with my hands without the use of any equipment like dough mixer or dough roller etc . 🙂

Mee Hoon Kueh was one common home-cooked food in my growing up years.  I don’t dislike this food but two members in my family – my elder sister and one of my cousins who lived with us – hated the food and just refused to eat it, for whatever reason which is still unclear to me until now.  So my late grandma and my mum always had to add some Bee Hoon (rice vermicelli) into the soup to cook together, for their sake.  It was not bad a combination, actually.

Ikan Bilis (anchovies) stock was used to make the soup

Meehoon Kueh01

It is not difficult to cook this dish at all but it just need a little bit of patience (and strength) in kneading the dough, setting it aside for an hour or so, and then pinching and stretching it a bit into pieces (preferably not too thick) to cook in the soup.

I used 180g of flour, an egg, 80ml of ikan bilis stock and a pinch of salt to make the dough.  Adding ikan bilis stock (instead of water) was a (brilliant) suggestion from hubby, and as it turned out, the Mee Hoon Kueh tasted better.  🙂  Leaving the dough aside (in a bowl and covered with cling-wrap) for an hour or so is necessary for the Mee Hoon Kueh to be softer.

Topped with  some “fried” ikan bilis (by microwave method) and shallots before serving

Meehoon Kueh02

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, as the saying goes.  It gives me great pleasure whenever hubby enjoys the food I cooked!

ANOTHER NEW YEAR

This morning, hubby and I went for our first exercise for the year.  At last, after not being able to do so for many months due to hubby’s very hectic work schedule.  With the project now implemented, I am praying and hoping that year 2015 will be a better year for him in terms of work-life balance and his health.

The weather this morning was lovely.  Cool and windy.  It was so good to be back exercising in our Lao Di Fang (老地方, Chinese words meaning our regular place).  I hope we will be able to do it regularly this year as part of our efforts to live well and stay fit.  We are all responsible for our own health and exercise is one way to achieving it.

On the eve of new year, we had a late home-cooked dinner since hubby didn’t get home from work until past 10pm.  Our meal was a little special this time though simple.

New Year’s Eve dinner at home.

Salad in ponzu (sauce made from soy sauce and citrus juice) and olive oil

NYE Dinner

Cold green-tea soba, for the first time

NYE Dinner02

In Japanese tradition, people eat soba, called toshikoshi soba (年越し蕎麦) on the eve of New Year to let go of the hardship of the year or to ward off evil spirits, and also to wish for long-life.

Simmered daikon (radish) with chicken wing, also my first attempt

NYE Dinner03

The recipe is from Cook Japanese with Tamako again.  We really liked it.

We then topped it off with a small glass of plum wine (梅酒) and a small piece of cheese cake each from Snaffles to complete our simple yet satisfying meal to end the year 2014.

NYE Dinner04

NYE Dinner05

2015 is a special year for Singapore as the country celebrates its 50 years of independence.

Taken on 30 Dec, 2014, this is a beautiful 2-minute montage of sketches and graphics on the milestones of Singapore, on the facade of the iconic Fullerton Hotel. This projection was created to commemorate Singapore’s 50th year of independence in 2015.

Whatever the celebrations there may be, I just hope that 2015 will be a year of good health & great joy with less heart-breaking tragedies and catastrophes around the world.  To those who have lost their loved ones in the QZ8501 tragedy on 28 December 2014, may they overcome their pain and grief, and move on with their lives.

May you have a blessed 2015.

NO MERRY CHRISTMAS AND YEAR-END

A blessed Christmas to all readers!

Mango Cheesecake

This Christmas is so super quiet for me that I decided to brighten up my day a bit by making these no-bake mango cheesecakes for dessert tonight.  This is my first time making this type of cheesecakes, and I am glad that they have turned out pretty well.

This Christmas and also year-end are actually not so merry for us.  Due to a major project implementation, my dear hubby not only had to work today, but also has to be on a 12-hour work shift, plus 12-hour off-site support everyday from now till 1 Jan when the cut-over is expected to complete, with no break at all. Why are the bosses taxing their staffs so much without even a little thought spared on their staffs’ health and welfare?  To make things worse, there is no mention at all of any compensating off-days for all the extra work during this period – 4 extra man-days, not considering another 3 man-days working on public holidays and weekends.  Unfortunately, there is no way for these people who are not protected under Labour Law or Employment Act, to voice their unhappiness.

Enough of my rantings.

Christmas dinner was a simple one and we didn’t have it until DS got home past 10pm!

Salad

Grilled Prawns

I am praying and hoping that next year will be a better year for my dear hubby in terms of his workload and health.

May God’s love and peace with you today and all through the new year ahead.