Monday, August 29, 2005


805 Bukit Timah Road
#01-03, Sixth Avenue Center,
Singapore 279883
Tel: 68750433

Just down the road from the newly re-vitalised strip where Corduroy and Finch is now situated we move from Western cuisine to Eastern and more specifically, Nothern Indian. Here at Heritage, Biryanis are the house specialty. It might seem a little excessive to pay about S$15 for a biryani that comes in a claypot, but it is really fragrant, sumptious and the meat is tender.

Heritage Special Hyderabadi Kachhe Gosht Ki Biryani

Nosh: There is wide and varied selection in this menu and a slightly small for the more health conscious that would like a lighter and healthier alternative. If I tasted everything I might have had to roll myself out, and since expenses didn’t allow it and the reason ruled over greedy, this are the items that I had – Tandoori Chicken, Kathal Ki Subzi (Tender Jackfruit cooked in Indian spices), Amvitsan Fish curry, chaphatti and of course their stellar – Heritage Special Hyderabadi Kachhe Gosht Ki Biryani (goats meat and the finest basmati rice cooked in a traditional vessel).

The biryani was exceptionally outstanding. The saffron, butter/ghee made the rice so flavourful and brightly coloured and goat meat was extremely succulent and close to melt in your mouth. It was exceptional and easily the best and most expensive biryani I have ever had in Singpaore. The food here is good because of the little nuances that it has. The tandoori chicken was flavoured with a punch and was oven baked with nice charred bits, serves with a double punch mustard sauce that I would advise against putting on your chicken before tasting. The food is good, the curries are rich and smooth and the biryani, well, that has already been established - it is good. And if you fancy something a little more luxurious, they serve lobster/crab tandoori and a crab biryani.

Pay: S$20-S$30 a person.

Efficient and nothing to complain about.

#18 IMBB: Deep-Fried Prawns with Tom Yum Dipping Sauce

I have to confess, deep-frying frightens me. It is scary for a clumsy person like me to have a deep dish of hot fat that is hot hot hot and spits back at you if you item to be deep fried has a drop of water. Furthermore, you should slowly lower the item into the deep fryer to minimize the splash that it will make just in case hot oil splashes back but yet you want to stand at a safe distance from the deep fryer. To me, it is just a catch-22. However, if it is safely and well done, deep frying does create a beautiful crunch that is music to the ears and wonderful to have. I love to hate deep frying, but it is a splendid method of cooking that appeals to all and is a wonderful way of creating textures and flavous.

Hence, this is how I deep fry:

1. Heat the fat
2. Go as close to the fryer, gently drop the item in
3. RUN AWAY and savor the bubbling and sizzling sounds from a distance

I don’t recommend my method, it is to a certain extent deep-frying for wimps, but I give myself some credit for finding my own style.

This is my latest deep-fried dish in the deep end of the deep fryer and I am pleased to announce that I have found another way to be a wimpy deep fryer. I skewer my food to be deep-fried so that gives me more distance from the hot fat which utterly frightens me.

Deep-Fried Prawns with Tom Yum Dipping Sauce
Serves 4


15-20 prawns, de-shelled and de-veined
Satay Sticks
1 egg
½ cup corn starch
½ cup of tom yum sauce


Make the sauce and set aside

Skewer prawns by stretching the prawns lengthways

Lightly beat the egg. Roll the prawns in the egg wash and then the corn starch and set aside.

Heat oil and make sure it is hot enough, either by testing it with a satay stick to see if vigourous bubbles gather around the satay stick or you can test with a small piece of bread.

Get ready a plate with paper towels and when oil is hot enough and deep fry prawns.

Serve immediately with sauce.

Tom Yum Sauce
(makes 2 cups)


4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 stalks of lemongrass, peeled and trimmed to 8cm then finely sliced
2 tsp of peeled and finely sliced galangal
3 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp roasted chili oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
250ml whipping cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
1 cup chicken stock


Heat oil, fry lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and chili flakes until golden brown.

Add chilies in oil, sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce and cream, stirring constantly.

Add lime and additional stock if is too thick.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Kitchen Experiments: Warm Salad of Char-Grilled Japanese Aubergines and Roma Tomatoes

For the uninitiated, the brinjal/eggplant/aubergine/nasu might look like a rather alien object. After all, it is purple and most conventional vegetables come in shades of green. Nature however has its way of working itself out, although being a rather purple, it turns into an elegant slightly sweet mush that it turns to when roasted or grilled.

While wandering around the Tiong Bahru Market, I spied with my little eyes some Nasu while we were picking up some carrots. I’ve never seen them in the local market and so I picked three and brought them home in my market basket. Discovering the Nasu (Japanese Eggplant) was exciting, since Relative to their Western counterparts, they have thinner skins, are generally longer and slender and are slightly sweeter and delicate in flavour.

So after flipping and flipping and flipping, I settled for this recipe from the book Cuisine Unplugged by Emmanuel Stroobant:

Warm Salad of Char-Grilled Japanese Aubergines and Roma Tomatoes
Serves 4


Tomato Confit (Recipe Below)
300g of Nasu
250ml Olive Oil
2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
20g basil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp rock salt
2 tsp black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons


Prepare tomato confit in advance

Slice aubergines into halves and drizzle with olive oil. Char-gill for 5 minutes on each side.

Toss grilled aubergines with the rest of the ingredients including the tomato confit, adding lemon juice last.

Tomato Confit:

300g Roma Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into halves
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp rock salt
2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp basil, chopped
125 ml olive oil


Lay tomatoes flat on a tray. Season with salt, sugar, pepper and basil. Drizzle the olive oil and bake at 80 degree Celsius for 3 hours.

I was thoroughly satisfied with my nasu dish and hence I’m going back to the market to get me somemore.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

mR. marlin

mR. marlin
Sea Mart & Bistro
66 Greenleaf Road
Singapore 279354
Tel: 65-64623080

For numerous Sundays in the last two months, we have found ourselves back at this little slightly off-the-beaten-track eating village. Sharing this space with Cantina and La Braceria, mR. Marlin offers something different from the Italian neighbours.

White Bait Fish and Chips

Nosh: Fish and chips, fresh oysters and a variety of seafood are the main feature on the menu. Appetizers include garden salads, crab cakes, fresh oysters and from the main course section, grilled fish, fish and chips, surf and turf and a seafood platter are on offer. If you are on a diet but are craving some greasy food, maybe the option of having your fries changed to mash potatoes or a fresh rocket salad will let you have the cake and eat it too.

If you are alone, come and have a fish and chip basket; but if you bring company, get them to share with you, that way you’ll get to taste more instead of a whole baby barramundi. We ordered a dish each – grilled baby barramundi, mixed grilled seafood, red snapper fish and chips and white bait fish and chips. The seafood is fresh and so it is simply prepared and served with light sauces. What I enjoyed was that because the seafood was fresh, you taste the sweetness of the fish rather than having a very rich sauce that might cover the taste of the sweet seafood.

Pay: S$15-S$20 a person.

Service: Passable.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Wine News!

Here's a piece of wine news: Indoguna Singapore is having a wine sale on the 1st and 2nd of September 2005! They will be offering special discounts for F.X Pichler, Chateau Haut- Brion and Schloss Johannisberg amongst other labels. It would be a perfect time to go down to sample a few labels and to learn a little more from the retailers of the various wines. My personal research is directing me there to swirl, sip and taste and swallow (instead of spit) some fine F.X Pichler Riesling and Whites which have been said to be beautifully composed and complex, and the historically rich Chateau Haut-Brion Bordeaux that I have one imagined about through the various reviews that I have read.

Here are the details:

Chijmes Hall
30 Victoria Street
1st and 2nd Sept 2005, 4pm-10pm

Saturday, August 20, 2005

One of My Basic Luxuries

I asked a friend what she wanted to eat when you came over for dinner and her answer was, "PASTA!". Well, that being rather generic I was tempted to go with one fancy seafood pasta with a saffron cream sauce or something along those lines. However, while flipping through my books, I decided that I wanted to go back to something really basic - Aglio Olio, so I just threw in some crab meat to make it more luxurous.

Aglio Olio Peperoncino with Crab Meat
(Serves 4)


500gm dry pasta
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely sliced garlic
2 teaspoons chilli Flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 cup pasta water
200g - 250g of crab meat
4 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese


In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta about 8 minutes, or until "al dente." Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, crab meat and the garlic. Stir until softened and beginning to bubble. Add chilli flakes, 1/2 cup of the pasta water, a pinch of salt, a twist of pepper and the parsley. Add pasta to pan and toss.

Add another 1/2 cup of pasta water, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of the Pecorino cheese. Toss. Remove to serving bowl. Add the remaining Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Second Thoughts about Ember

When you put a bunch of people in a room who are opinionated, passion about food and love eating, you sometimes get arguments about where to go for lunch, which place has the best orgasmic prawn mee experience, which their favourite hawker foods, their favourite restaurants, etc, etc.. in a nutshell, it really is just food talk. So over one BBQ, while holding a lamb chop in my right hand and chewing the prawn that I just popped into my mouth, I was caught up in one of these restaurant debates. The topic at hand was St. Pierre vs. Ember. We were divided amongst ourselves on which was the better restaurant and as a final solution to our debate, we decided to schedule dates at the various restaurant for our restaurant challenge. I was all ready to defend my St. Pierre, but as we know, that didn’t quite work out as planned, and so this is my report on Ember.

It has been nearly a year since I was last at this restaurant. My last experience here was pleasant but not out of this world. My memories were that it was slightly pricey for the really small portions that they were serving. So instead of going with the chef dégustation like the last time, we went for the á la carte menu instead.

The menu doesn’t really capture me, and nothing seemed to jump out at me while I flipped it saying “EAT ME, EAT ME”. However, since Chef Sebastian won the award for Rising Chef of the Year at the World Gourmet Summit 2005, he must be doing something right. Plus, I think it is time we acknowledged and supported more of our local talents.

My second experience at this restaurant was better. The food was relatively well executed. The ambience at the restaurant is also rather chic, causal, cozy and warm. So with much regret, my restaurant that I supported in our first restaurant challenge had to lose gracefully.

Baked Duck Pastilla with arugala salad, lemon vinegrette

Nosh: From the appetizers we had the pan seared foie gras with caramelised apple and clove, port and raspberry glaze and the baked duck pastille with arugala salad, lemon vinegrette. The foie gras was close to over cooked, but thankfully not at that point. What in particular is good about this dish is the caramalised condiments that accompany the liver that makes it good. The baked duck pastille was exciting since I have only read about pastilles and have never had them. The pastille was good and crisp with good tasting roasted duck in the center. The duck however was a little dry and the pastille was rather thin, where it was more like a parcel rather than a pastille. Nonetheless, the combination was beautiful.

For main courses, we had the pumpkin risotto with fennel fritters, sundried tomatoes, seared Chilean seabass with mushroom and smoked bacon ragout, truffle yuzu butter sauce and the charred marinated chicken with spices, coriander and yoghurt dressing. The risotto tasted a very comforting, although the creamy warm rice bubbles tasted a little more like sundried tomato risotto rather than pumpkin risotto. In addition to the creamy comforting sensation, the deep fried fennel fritters added to the comfort food meter. The seabass was well cooked, perfect texture, holding its form and not over cooked, and the sauce is rather wonderful, with the salty bacon, the pungent truffle and the creamy butter to tie it all together. The charred marinated chicken was I think what eptiomises this restaurant. The charred marinated chicken tasted like a tandoori chicken, but not just the deep fried kind of tandoori chicken that they sometimes serve at Northern Indian restaurants, but rather chicken cooked with excellent technique. Using existing flavours that had stood the test of time, and adding a few twist of their own without being too out of the box, but cooking it well.

We skipped dessert and had coffee and tea instead because none of us felt like having a valrona warm chocolate cake that seems to appear on every menu nowadays or caramelised banana something that was on the menu. (Which incidentally sparked off another talk about cooked fruit and goreng pisang)

Pay: About S$60 for 3 courses. Set dinner is S$45+++ and the chef dégustation is available on request.

Service: Prompt and friendly.

Rave: The sundried tomato bread that is served at the beginning of the meal is really good. I also think it is rather charming that the mother cooks with the son in the kitchen, so I guess I’ll give extra points for respect.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

La Braceria

La Braceria
Pizza and Grill
70 Greenleaf Road
Ban Guan Park
Singapore 279356
Tel: 64655918

Keeping in line with the Florentine-styled cuisine here, your meal begins with a serving a crusty but airy slices of bread with a dish of fruity and nutty aromatic olive oil and an island of balsamic vinegar nestling within. The restaurant is a charming little shop which sits only about 25 people, is well lit by the daylight and is a rather peaceful stop for a nice lunch, where you can sit in the air-conditioned rooms and enjoy the simple grassy scene outside.

The food here is Florentine inspired, the pièce de rèsistance of Florentine cuisine - Bistecca alla Florentina ( steak Florentine ) is on the menu along side other char grilled items such as grilled chicken with parmesan cheese, lamb chops and kobe beef. Other dishes that this restaurant features are tripe, their homemade pork sausages and their wood fire pizzas.

salsicci de maiale al finocchietto

Nosh: From the Antipasti e Insalate section of the menu, we had the Trippa alla Fiorentina which is stewed veal tripe in light tomato sauce and the Antipasto Braceria which is oven baked scamorza cheese served with a delicious mushroom sauce. The tripe is very simply prepared and is served very unpretentious manner. The first bite will first give you the chewy texture of the tripe and the taste of tripe but after a few chews, the light tomato sauce give it’s a more neutral taste and then the taste start to harmonise together in your mouth. The Antipasto Braceria highlighted the slight sweet and gooey texture of the grilled cheese with the piece of bacon that was wrapped around it that was grilled to a crisp. The aroma of the bacon is more prevalent when you smell your food and so if you have this I advice you to sniff it before eating it, I know it is bad table manners, but it is a better way of appreciating your food.

Moving on to the meat section of the meal, we had the salsicci de maiale al finocchietto which is their famous homemade grilled pork sausage. Served with some salad and pan fried potatoes, the sausage is quite a roll of tasty meat. The predominant flavour in the sausages is the wine that it is flavoured with, which makes it a rather full bodied and herby meaty chunk to enjoy with the salad and the potatoes.

The fire wood pizza that we selected was the alla bracieria pizza was crisp and crunchy with mozerella, beef tenderloin, porcini mushroom and parmesan cheese. Nothing too spectacular, but it was rather cool having slices of beef on the pizza.

We proceeded on to dessert where we ordered the lava cake and the tiramisu from the choice of the chef’s dessert of the day, an Italian cheese plate and profiteroles. The tiramisu was delightful, the ladysfingers were laced with and not soggy from the alcoholic liquid that it was soaked in, and the marscapone was airy and light. The lava cake came with a little show of its own, the waiter comes by with a bottle of grand mariner and pours a couple of tablespoons into it and lights it on fire. The lava cake is a chocolate affair with molten chocolate in the center, which is a rather luxurious dessert to have.

Pay: S$50-S$60 for 3 courses per person

Service: It was a little tardy since there was only one waiter in the restaurant and hence our water glasses were constantly left unfilled.

Rave: The tripe is quite fantastic.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Where the Teochews Gather

Ah Orh Seafood Restaurant
Blk 115 Jalan Bukit Merah
Singapore 160115
Tel: 62757575

Despite the changing palate of my father who has moved from a traditional Teochew man to a more cosmopolitan man who has learnt to appreciate the other flavours of various cuisines, he still craves for his comfort food. I personally think it is one of those favourite Teochew eateries since the first time we came here, we were brought by another Teochew family and it was recommended to us by another Teochew family on another occasion. My dad loves this place because of the wonderful steamed fish that they do here. The fish is wonderfully fresh and it is simply rapidly steamed with some salted vegetables, tomatoes, dried mushrooms and ginger, and the end product is rather spectacular – a juicy piece of fish and a wonderful broth that sucked up all the essence of the fish and the ingredients that it has been steamed with. Slurp, burp, oops, pardon my manners.

Nosh: Seafood selections are available on display for you and the usual zhi-char varieties such as the stir-fried vegetables, tofu varieties, prawn pasted chicken, soups and such. You’ll have to choose what fish you would liked steamed, and if you would want a whole fish or simply a fillet or a tail piece. For our selection of fish we had a garoupa and the other dishes that we had included an oyster omelette, stir fried kai lan and a cold crab.

Pay: S$20-S$25 per person

Service: It only exist to serve food, you have to place your orders at the food display area.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Gout-Friendly Cooking

I recently had to cook a gout friendly lunch and planning the menu was really difficult. I used to gripe about cooking for vegetarians, but I think making a gout friendly meal is even more difficult! No tofu, no beef, no prawns, no nuts, not too much cream, no this, no that, (it almost seemed like you couldn't eat ANYTHING) …, eeeeps! In addition to that, the guests that were coming to lunch were a group of true blooded Peranakans. They love their chillies and they have a rather rich food heritage, so the food that I was going to make had to be spicy, gout friendly and it had to be good. So after pouring over my cookbooks for recipes and inspiration, I served these two dishes for the gout-friendly lunch: Chinese Chicken Parcels and Pan Fried Red Snapper with a Clear Tom Yum Broth served with Rice Noodles and Snow Peas.

Chinese Chicken Parcels

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1 Savoy or Chinese cabbage
sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed
1 handful of fresh coriander
1-2 fresh chillies
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 trimmed boneless chicken thighs, skin removed, roughly chopped
1 handful of water chestnuts
zest and juice of 2 limes
sweet chili sauce
soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


Wash and discard the core and outer leaves from the cabbage, separating the remaining cabbage leaves and place them in a pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes to soften. Cool them in a bowl of cold water, drain and put to one side.

In a food processor, whiz up your garlic, ginger, spring onions, fresh coriander, chilli and fish sauce with a good pinch of salt. Then add the chicken, water chestnut, lime zest and juice and sesame oil and process until you have a minced meat consistency.

Place a heaped dessertspoonful of the flavoured mince on to one end of each cabbage leaf. Fold it up and tuck in the sides, then roll up.

Oil your steamer, colander or normal steamer with a little olive oil and place un the cabbage parcels. They may try to unfold but once you start putting them next to each other, they will stay rolled in place. When they’re all in, sit the steamer over a pan of boiling water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the parcels and it is just the steam that is cooking them. Put a lid on top and steam for about 6 minutes until cooked. If you are worried about the cooking time, take one of the parcels out and cut it in half to make sure that they are cooked all the way through.

When they are done, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top and serve them in a bamboo steamer or plate with a dish of sweet chilli sauce and or soy sauce in the middle.

* Recipe source: Jamie’s Kitchen

Tom Yum Broth for the Pan Fried Red Snapper with a Clear Tom Yum Broth served with Rice Noodles and Snow Peas

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Serves 6-8

2 quarts chicken broth
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, sliced on a bias in 2-inch pieces
4 kaffir lime leaves
1-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger, sliced
2 red chillies, sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce, such as nam pla
1 1/2 teaspoons
2 limes, juiced
2 green onions, sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped


Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chillies. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.

Uncover and add the fish sauce and sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, green onions, and cilantro. Taste for salt and spices; you should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. Strain soup and set aside to serve.

To Plate Up:

Place a mount of rice noodles at the bottom of a bowl, place snow peas over the noodles, and then place the pan fried snapper on top of the peas.

Carefully ladle broth into the bowl so that the snapper doesn't get soggy before served.

* Recipe Source: Adaptation from Tyler Florence's Hot and Sour: Tom Yum Soup.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Inspired by Tetsuya

Here’s another salmon dish for the books. Inspired by the Tartare of Ocean Trout with Sushi Rice, Avocados and Grapes recipe that is in his self titled book Tetsuya, I decided modify it to make it more affordable by substituting various ingredients. I found super fresh ocean trout of sashimi grade hard to find and hence I used salmon which is more easily available. In addition to that, since we were on a Japanese motif, I added toasted sesame seeds and nori into the rice, so the end product was a little more of my concoction inspired by Tetsuya. Here is how it goes …

Tartare of Salmon with Sushi Rice, Tobikko and Grapes
Serves 4

4 tablespoons finely diced salmon
2 tablespoons steamed sushi rice
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
20 green grapes, peeled, quartered and seeded
grated zest of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons of tobikko
2 tablespoons of wasabi Mayonnaise
Nori for garnish


In a bowl, mix together the salmon, rice, sesame seeds, grapes and lemon zest.
Add the tobikko and wasabi mayonnaise.
Divide between 4 serving plates and garnish with a sprinkling of nori.

* I found that my grapes weren't sweet enough and hence, when I made this dish again, i left out the grapes.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Canteen

1, Scotts Road, Shaw Centre,
#02-10 Singapore 228208
Tel: 6333-8966

Over the years, Les Amis has slowly established itself in the culinary scene in Singapore. Branching out from its fine French dining restaurants, it has slowly tried to cater to the different crowds with their newer varied restaurants such as Coq and Bull and Pepperoni. The Canteen, which has recently turned two, is one of their later ventures. Located in the heart of the city, it serves up bistro comfort food and some Asian delights.

Duck Confit

Nosh: Bistro food such as duck confit, steak frites, seabass, osso bucco and pastas make up the western side of the menu. On the Eastern side of the menu, innovative items such as the deep fried baby squid salad sat side by side with other local delights such as hokkien mee, hor fun and beef rice are available.

In my opinion, the appetizers sounded more interesting than the main courses, and hence the debate around our table was whether to go with two appetizers and dessert or the full two or three course. For appetizers we elected to go with the mushroom fricassée because of the wonderful poached egg that was served with it, the roast duck salad and the mushroom “cappuccino”. The soup was incredibly small, the truffle oil took it up a notch, but the soup was a little disappointing. The duck salad was a nice combination of the bitter salad leaves, sweet plum sauce and the roasted duck. The mushroom fricassée was rather beautifully done as well. The main courses however were rather disappointing. The duck confit portion was incredibly small and the seabass which was served with a tomato and lemongrass broth did look slightly overcooked, but it was still succulent and juicy, still had a scale or two left on it. In place of a main, we also ordered the deep fried baby squid salad, which was a good combination as well. Our lunch seemed to have started off pretty decently and it slowly went on a downward spiral as dessert was a total disaster. We ordered the apple parcel which was an Apple compote sautéed with Grand Marnier, baked in crispy pastry served with lychee ice-cream and the Pineapple compote which was diced pineapple cooked with sugar & vanilla, served with coconut ice-cream & fresh raspberries. The apple parcel’s crispy pastry tasted simply like flour which was pretty gross, but if you mash everything together (apple, pastry and ice cream) it isn’t that bad. The pineapple compote was too sweet, which made us cringe, it was like eating pineapple tarts without a nice buttery tart shell to balance it off.

Pay: This social club at lunch time spots business people and ladies who lunch, and hence prices are pretty high. For an a-la-carte 3 course will set you back about S$70, but there are set lunches available for S$22+++ for 2 courses and S$28+++ for 3.

Service: Very Les Amis - smooth and professional.

Me Thinks: I might not be back here; or maybe just I'll get appetizers and I’ll walk to somewhere else for a hokkien mee.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tong Shui 101

Today’s Lesson: How to make and to appreciate tong shui

Defining the issue at hand:

糖水 – Tang Shui in Mandarin, and Tong Shui in Cantonese.
What it is: Cantonese sweet soups
My translation and notion of what it is: sugared water

Tong Shui was the last thing on my mind as I set off to meet Nicole at the supermarket to pick up our shopping list ingredients for the Pierre Hermé’s millefeuille that we were going to attempt together. However, while waiting for her outside the supermarket, I was standing next to this tong shui shop, where they were trying to paddle their life enhancing and health enhancing tong shui to the people that streamed by and my mind started the wander … about the various tong shui possibilities. While wandering around the supermarket and surveying the various butter, flour, cream and chocolate options that were available, we soon realized that we forgot to co-ordinate and to plan our baking afternoon since Nicole had half the ingredients in her house and hence it was pointless to buy any of those that were already in our shopping basket. So with our tail between our legs, we placed everything where we found them and were walking around the supermarket for inspiration.

Nicole (who I suspect might have planned this since she has been trying to convert me to a tong shui eater/slurper since I have met her), suddenly whipped out her slightly larger than pocket-sized tong shui dessert book and suggested that we make something from there. Hmmmmm… a little too coincidental isn’t it? I flipped through it and wasn’t too keen about making anything in the book, and then I shared with her my tong shui vision that I had while waiting for her. She gladly went along with my idea since we were adamant of making something that afternoon and she would grab any chance to educate me about the wonderful world of tong shui, and hence, this is made we made – Cheng T’ng Jelly.

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These are the ingredients:

I’ll have to ask Nicole what is what, I can only identify the white fungus, red dates, longans, barley and rock sugar.

This is our recipe:

1. Boil 8 red dates with 2 tbsps of dried longans and 30g of rock sugar for 20 minutes.
2. Cook 1 tbsp of barley separately, drain and set aside.
3. Add remainder of herbs (from 六味 packet - easily available at supermarkets) and barley and simmer for another half hour.
4. Pour mixture through sieve to separate the liquid from other ingredients.
5. From the cooked ingredients, cut up red dates, longans and snow fungus into small pieces, and place in small jelly moulds together with a few grains of barley.
6. Return strained liquid to pot and bring to boil quickly before turning of flame.
7. Add 120 g of konnyaku powder, and stir for 3 minutes.
8. Quickly pour liquid mixture into the moulds and chill for 30 minutes before serving.