Keeping your Brinjal's colour and the Fried Brinjal with Dried Shrimps and Sambal Recipe


Brinjal. Eggplant. Aubergine.

Depending on where you live, it bears a different name. It also comes in many different shapes: round, oval and long. One thing is certain, it is popular in many cuisines and there are many ways to cook it. As I have mentioned it is a star piece of a Hakka Yong Tau Foo spread.

For regular dinners, to cook it the "Chinese" wok style, I will add it straight to the wok after making "fragrant" ingredients like garlic and sambal.

It will normally end up mushy with an unappetising brown colour.
What happened to the beautiful violet?

What makes bridal delicious is when the skin is crisped and the flesh is creamy.
But a mushy stir-fried brinjal dish is what you will normally get from your home wok.

The contrast in texture and appealing colors are some of the reasons why we like eat them in Cze Char stalls.

Happy 50th Birthday Singapore...and celebrating it with Nasi Lemak


"A good plate of Nasi Lemak is about getting the basics right. It is not about adding good side-dishes or adding expensive gourmet ingredients."
This is one of those "public cooking notes," where I had to jot down notes after cooking a good dish and you get to read it.

It was a wonderful day of celebrating the 50th birthday of our nation. Being a Sunday, it started with worship in church where we prayed together a prayer of thanksgiving. Then families gathered to watch the NDP together in the evening. What should we serve for dinner?

We decided on Nasi Lemak and indeed, it was the right choice.

Both Malay and Nonya at the same time, this dish which originated in Malay seaside villages has evolved in our multicultural city to what it is today. In fact, there are many versions of it, from the simple and essential, to those that come served with many side dishes.

Pork Ribs and Bitter Gourd in Fermented Black Bean Sauce


Most of us have a story of how we used to hate bitter gourd (or bitter melon) when we were young.

Somehow, growing up, as our taste buds and receptors mature, we begin to appreciate the nuance that bitter brings to our food. For some, it changes from tolerance to cravings for this gourd.

The same can be said of life. We all like things sweet but life as we know it, will be pretty one-dimensional if we have not encountered difficulties and suffering. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about suffering and the darker realities of life. If life has been "bitter" for you, you know where you can turn to. As I am writing this, the sufferings of our friends in Nepal comes to mind.

I have actually posted a recipe on bitter gourd. Dig around under Hakka Yong Tofu and you will find a wonderful recipe there.

If you like bitter gourd, you have probably eaten it with fermented black bean ("tau see"). It is a classic combination. Interestingly, it is not sweet which balance the bitters, but saltiness.

Making Kajang Satay (Mengapa, mengapa....?)


I always thought that it is fantastic to serve Satay at a party.

I have been to some where a "Satay Man" was hired. You can smell it in the air as you walk in. And the sight of the charcoal fire which flared occasionally in the skilful pair of hands - one holding a fan and the other a bunch of satay - was always something that added a special atmosphere to the evening.

Having grown up in Malaysia, I was used to those that had chunks of roasted sweet and succulent meat, served with a delicious peanut sauce, accompanied by ketupat, fresh cucumber and onions. Those from Kajang are about the best. I can also recall visiting my Malay friends during Hari Raya. I still have memories of Satay served in their homes.

Sungguh sungguh sedap dan enak. 

Tetapi mengapa di Singapura, tidak ada Satay macam ini? Mengapa? Satay di sini kurus sekali. Kadang-kadang keras. Gigi palsu boleh mengusir dan kepala sentak bila mengigit. Ayuh. Mengapa? Kalau satay baik di Kajang, mengapa tidak pergi sana dan belajar? Sini ada nama "Kelab." Saya fikir orang putih boleh ditipu. Tetapi orang tempatan tahu - mengapa satay sudah jadi begini?"

Notes from a Hakka Yong Tau Foo Party


Note: The full recipe for HYTF can be found here.

When I cook Hakka Yong Tau Foo, it is almost always for a party.

It has been while since I last made this and along with the food team in my church, we had to find our bearings again. But it wasn't as difficult as we had feared. It all went very smoothly and about 100 diners enjoyed the unique dining experience at our Alpha Course last night.

Why HYTF for tonight? I was asked by the team to cook whatever I want as this was one of the last few meals I am doing in the church. It isn't quite the "Last Supper" but it is true that I will be moving to another church to serve as their pastor w.e.f. 1st July this year.

I was thinking of Japanese beef rice, using Sous Vide to 48-cooked some short rib beef to perfection. Or maybe coffee pork ribs and butter prawns. But the dishes will not engage the whole food team the way HYTF will. And so the decision was made.

Auntie Ruby's Tau Yu Bak (Braised Pork in Soy Sauce)

Updating this old post and added some pics. I have written another post with a simplified recipe here

I have grown accustomed to her taste

Tau Yew Bak! Tow You Bak! Toyu Bak! (Oh dear, how do you anglicize or 'engli-pinyin' this?)

This dish has been blogged and 'reciped' to death. It can be found in just about any Nonya (almost synonymous with Singaporean) cookbook out there.

So why another one?