The Simply Her Birthday Cooking Challenge was a showcase of talented home cooks, who share their tips with us here.
We celebrated our 12th anniversary in November with a mega cook-off at Singapore Expo, in conjunction with the Asia Pacific Food Expo. Ten pairs of home cooks had 1½ hours to cook a tofu dish using Vitasoy’s Sprouted Tofu range and Mazola Corn Oil, and create a dessert using Vitasoy Soya Bean Drink. Each team was given an Electrolux Table Top Induction Hob and a pot to use, Luzerne tableware for plating, and Mama Magica dishwashing liquid to wash their utensils and cookware.
There were surprises in store too, with two mystery components sprung on the teams. Prior to the challenge, teams had drawn lots to use one of three Electrolux appliances – a toaster oven, rice cooker or blender. And 15min to the start, a mystery ingredient was unveiled: pineapple, which contestants had to use in at least one dish.
The three judges – Lens Gwee, executive vicepresident of The Food & Beverage Management Association Singapore, Victor Lee, head chef of Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy, and Penelope Chan, editor of Simply Her – scored each dish on taste, creativity and presentation, variety of ingredients used, work organisation, hygiene and teamwork.
Our emcee, Chew
Soo Wei , wearing
a dress with
as a cheeky hint
to our mystery
• Penelope Chan, editor of Simply Her.
• Victor Lee, head chef of Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy.
• Lens Gwee, executive vice-president of The Food & Beverage Management Association Singapore.
WHO Frances Lee, 32, civil servant, and Laura Lee, 29, finance executive.
THEIR DISHES Tofu Three Ways, and Jolly Pudding (a berry pudding).
COOKING TIP Laura says: “Tofu is one of the most versatile cooking ingredients. I would stuff it into anything to create a nutritious and delicious dish.”
WHO Mohamad Nurul Hisham Bin Musiran, 34, interior designer, and Ivanna Wilianty, 37, stay-at-home mum
THEIR DISHES Japanese Chicken Meatballs, and Soya Milk Panna Cotta.
COOKING TIP When making meatballs, Ivanna kneads the minced meat until it’s sticky before adding seasoning. “That holds the shape of the meatballs when you fry them,” she explains.
WHO Audrey Loke, 36, and Elaine Chan, 31, both sales managers.
THEIR DISHES Thai Basil Tofu with Longevity Glass Noodle Salad, and Mango Soya Mousse Pudding with Aloe Vera and Coconut Soya Cream.
COOKING TIPS When you want the flavours to come through in your tofu dish, marinate the tofu overnight, says Audrey. Her tip for making a firm pudding: Use konnyaku jelly powder instead of gelatin powder.
WHO Kenneth Chen, 32, teacher, and Anna Lee, 31, stay-at-home mum.
THEIR DISHES Loco Moco (Hawaiian spiced tofu hamburger with a local twist), and Fruity Soya Crepes.
COOKING TIP To make crepes, Anna uses a ladle instead of a spoon to spread the mixture on the pan; you don’t need a special crepe spreader. The ladle spreads the mixture evenly, and gives you more control over how thin the crepe will be.
WHO Darwin Gosal, 35, manager, and Ng Wei Chee, 33, data scientist.
THEIR DISHES Tofu Hors d’Oeuvres with Tofu Ricotta, and Rum and Raisin Chocolate Cremeux.
COOKING TIP When caramelising fruit for desserts, melt the sugar first, then add the fruit, says Wei Chee. If the fruits are cooked at the same time as the sugar, they might become overcooked. Add them too late, and the sugar might already have burnt.
The couple won $1, 500 worth of Electrolux vouchers, two Luzerne Rustic Sama 16- piece sets worth $435.20, $50 worth of Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy F&B vouchers, one car ton of Vitasoy Soya Bean Drink and a dozen bottles of Mazola Corn Oil.
WHO Amos Soh, 30, IT developer, and Darlene Chng, 32, retail assistant.
THEIR DISHES Tofu Patty Burgers with Sesame Sauce, and Soya Banana Pancakes.
COOKING TIPS For thick and fluffy pancakes, Darlene lets the batter sit for five to 10 minutes to thicken. She also cautions against over-mixing the batter. Rather, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
WHO Aaron Tang, 35, civil servant, and Mavis Tan, 33, stay-at-home mum.
THEIR DISHES Sweet and Sour Tofu Balls and Gula Melaka Chendol Soya Pudding.
COOKING TIPS Use your rice cooker to steam puddings, says Mavis, who did it for the pair’s Gula Melaka Chendol Soya Pudding. The heat of a rice cooker is consistent, which makes for even steaming. Cover the pudding with aluminium foil to prevent water from dripping into the pudding during steaming.
The husband-and-wife team bagged $3, 500 worth of Electrolux vouchers, two Luzerne Marble 16- piece sets worth $712.60, $150 worth of Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy F&B vouchers, one car ton (48 packs) of Vitasoy Soya Bean Drink and a dozen bottles of Mazola Corn Oil.
WHO Cindy Woo, 37, and Christine Woo, 39, both stay-at-home mums.
THEIR DISHES Pumpkin Salted Egg Tofu and Mango Soya Bean Milk Cheesecake.
COOKING TIP A good way to create a healthy tofu dish is to blanch the tofu in boiling water with a pinch of salt, rather than deep-fry it. The salt helps to remove the moisture content in the tofu and give it some taste.
The sisters took home $2, 500 worth of Electrolux vouchers, two Luzerne Urban Grey Web 16- piece sets worth $459.20, $100 worth of Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy F&B vouchers, one car ton of Vitasoy Soya Bean Drink and a dozen bottles of Mazola Corn Oil.
WHO Pradipta Kundu, 35, IT professional, and Sudeshna Basu, 32, stay-athome mum.
THEIR DISHES Tofu Peas Curry and Kheer (rice pudding).
COOKING TIP When making curry, always fry the spice mix for it until the mixture separates from the oil, then cook it with the other ingredients. This enhances the flavour of the spices, says Sudeshna.
WHO Wendy Chai, 38, sales support, and Amy Chai, 32, accounts executive.
THEIR DISHES Tofu Chicken Burger, and Rum and Raisin Pancake Birthday Cake.
COOKING TIPS If using tofu in a burger patty, add oats to the mixture to absorb the moisture from the tofu so the patty isn’t overly wet. Adding beaten eggs also helps the patty keep its shape.
PHOTOGRAPHY ANGELA GUO / TEXT BY MIA CHENYZE & HO PEI YING.