Thursday, December 26, 2013
Christmas is normally a busy period for me, with the second part of my monicker kicking in (the Canon bit) and this year has been no exception.
Not that I mind, of course. With each passing Christmas, I always feel that there could have been more I could do to serve the One whom we are celebrating. The recent riots in Little India triggered again some reminders. One in seven persons I meet here is a foreigner. Truth be told, I loathed the idea of throwing yet another party and hand out more free or "pay it forward" meal coupons. Not that there is anything wrong with this but instinctively in our hearts, we knew that it had to be more than this.
So what kind of food do our Navy boys long for after weeks out at sea?
I had the opportunity to find out during a visit to RSS Endurance which was docked at Vivocity.
For a week in November this year, it was open house for the Endurance as the Navy sought to be more visible and connect with the public. Unlike our army which is more visible on our streets, along with reservist soldiers in their green fatigues, our navy men and women, in their sartorial splendour of white or light grey, are mostly out at sea and away from home when on duty.
XO Sauce was apparently invented in Cantonese Restaurants in Hong Kong in the 1980s.
Made of dried seafood, mostly dried scallops, I can recall being intrigued by it when I first saw it sold in Lee Kum Kee bottles. Soon enough, Cantonese stalls here started to sell veg, tofu or meat dishes fried in XO Sauce.
The term "XO" originally means "extra-old" cognac but today, even in Singapore, it has come to denote something that is prestigious, classy and special. And so, we have the popular XO Crab Bee Hoon, where the very ordinary fried bee hoon is elevated a few notches when cooked with crabs.
Editor's notes: I have re-written this recipe to better explain the method used.
Egg tofu is delicious, cheap, nutritious and easy to make.
Though not as quick as the 1-minute tofu assembling recipe, the additional work of making your own tofu can be fun and satisfying. Akin to making custards, you see various liquid ingredients turn into a luscious custard which you can easily cut and scoop with your spoon.
When egg is heated up, it turns solid. That is probably the first dish you help your Mum to make.
This is the magic of proteins as they coagulate, and the albumin in the egg white will. Of course, egg alone will not result in a soft custardy texture. You need to add water and the properties of both the water-clinging and water-repelling amino acids will react to form a soft tofu texture. Heat has to be applied gently for this to happen.