To celebrate National Day, we asked chefs to give their signature twist on their favourite Singaporean dish. The results: Delicious, creative food that shows off our homegrown talent and flavours
BY BARBARA KOH / PHOTOS: ANDY WONG
By Chef Jeremmy Chiam
Prep 4 hrs | Cook 15 mins | Serves 4-6
1 kg yellow noodles
500 g bee hoon, soaked for
30 mins before cooking
15 prawns, peeled
30 g garlic, finely chopped
50 g Chinese chives (also known as garlic chives), chopped into fine strips
50 ml fish sauce
70 ml hua tiao wine (Chinese rice wine)
100 ml cooking oil Lime wedges, to serve
1 kg prawn shells
4 L water
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp tomato paste
40 g white peppercorns
100 g dried scallops
500 g pork belly
100 g smoked bacon
50 g soy beans
100 g dried anchovies
10 g salt
1. Rinse the prawn shells well, and drain them as dry as possible.
2. Roast the shells with the carrots, onions, celery and bacon in the oven for 45 mins at 190 C. If there is no oven available, then saute on high heat, stirring continuously, until the shells turn brown and the vegetables caramelise.
3. Transfer to a stock pot, add the tomato paste, then saute for 5 to 6 mins until the whole stock turns orange-red in colour.
4. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a rolling boil. Leave to boil for 10 mins, then adjust the heat to simmer the broth for about 3 hrs.
5. Taste the broth. It should be rich and full of umami. Otherwise continue to simmer until desired richness is achieved.
6 Remove the pork belly, leave to rest and cool for a few minutes, then slice thinly and set aside. Strain the broth and set aside.
7. Whisk eggs with a little salt and set aside. Add a little oil onto a very hot pan, on high heat and allow the oil to smoke a little. This helps with obtaining the important wok hei (characteristic wok essense).
8. Then add the noodles and soaked bee hoon in the pan still on high heat and thoroughly and quickly toss, then set aside.
9. Add oil to a separate wok, placed on high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, then quickly stir-fry the whisked eggs. Immediately add the noodles and bee hoon, and toss evenly. Season with fish sauce and hua tiao wine.
10. Turn the heat to low, add ladleful of broth periodically, and simmer for 3 mins under a lid, till noodles reach a consistency you like. Add prawns, pork belly and Chinese chives and increase to high heat again and stir-fry quickly.
11. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve immediately with sambal belachan and a wedge of lime on the side. (See www.womensweekly.com. sg for Chef Jeremmy’s potent sambal belachan recipe.)
Chef Jeremmy will be serving a variant of this dish as part of Le Binchotan’s National Day supper special. It will cost $18++ per portion, and will be available after 9.30 pm, for the whole of August.
Jeremmy Chiam, Chef-Owner, Le Binchotan
“My grandmother is Hokkien and she used to cook Hokkien mee for us when we were young. At the restaurant I use a lot of European techniques and for this version of my local favourite, I’ve used a base much like a French prawn bisque, where the prawn shells and bacon are roasted. The broth is key and there’s no shortcut, but it’ll make a huge difference to the taste of your dish. And of course, no Hokkien mee is complete without good chilli, and I serve my noodles with a fiery house-made sambal belachan.”
CAST IRON CHARRED NGOH HIANG DUMPLINGS WITH BEAUTY IN THE POT SAUCE
By Chef Sam Chablani
Prep 35 mins (plus freezing time) | Cook 40 mins | Makes 50
50 pcs wanton wrappers
180 ml sunflower oil
350 ml water
1 kg fresh minced pork
1 kg peeled chestnuts, chopped or lightly blitzed in the food processor
1 kg tiger prawns, diced
5 tbsps tofu skin, chopped 5 x 5 mm
8 shallots, minced
½ small yellow onion, minced
½ tsp fine salt 5 tsps sugar
5 tsps mushroom powder
4 tsps coriander powder
1 tsp white pepper powder
BEAUTY IN THE POT SAUCE
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 leaves Chinese celery, thinly sliced into strips
2 chilli padis, sliced thinly
2 tbsps fish sauce
2 limes, juice squeezed
2 tsps sesame oil
1. Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and work it with your hands till well mixed.
2. Place in chiller for half an hour to let the meat marinate.
3. Spoon about 1 tbsp of filling in the middle of the wrapper, wet the edge with a little water and pinch and crimp together, forming small pleats to seal. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
4. Place the dumplings in an airtight box and freeze till needed. This helps set it.
5. BEAUTY IN THE POT SAUCE In a bowl, add garlic, shallots, chillies, fish sauce and lime juice. Set aside 5 mins to let it pickle. Add in sesame oil and Chinese celery leaves just before serving.
6. To prepare dumplings, heat up a cast iron pan.
7. Add 30 ml oil and heat up till it’s about to smoke.
8. Add dumplings flat side down, fry till browned with crisp, charred bits for added flavour, about 3 to 4 mins.
9. Add 70 ml water to create steam and cover the pan with a lid to fully cook the dumplings, about 5 mins. Repeat for remaining dumplings.
10. Serve with Beauty In The Pot Sauce.
Sam Chablani @noburnnotastesg, which runs bbq pop-ups
“I’m an Indian boy who loves Chinese food, and this is a go-to dish for my friends and me. I was taught how to make basic ngoh hiang by a close friend and we decided to put it into a dumpling because who doesn’t love pork dumplings! They are easy to make and can be done in advance, and then we’d sear them hard in a cast iron pan because #noburnnotaste. To spice things up, we would experiment with sauces, like this one, inspired by hot pot restaurants.”
By Chef Woo Wai Leong
Prep 3 hours | Cook 1 hour | Serves 4-6
Hokkaido milk ice-cream or vanilla ice-cream
GOJI BERRY JAM
100 g dried goji berries, lightly rinsed to remove sediment in
200 g water
30 g sugar, or more to taste
30 g lemon juice, or more to taste
4 tsps agar agar
(You will have more meringue than you need for this recipe)
2 egg whites
120 g caster sugar
2 g black pepper
200 g sugar
200 g water
100 g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin rounds
FRIED LAKSA LEAVES
(You will have more than you need)
Laksa leaves, removed from 3 stems
1. GOJI BERRY JAM Soak goji berries in water for about an hour or until soft. Heat up water and goji berries in a saucepot until boiling.
2. Add agar agar then simmer for 30 mins, stirring constantly to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn. Once a jamlike consistency has been reached, add lemon juice and sugar to taste and let cool.
3. PEPPER MERINGUE Whisk egg whites in a stand mixer at low-medium speed till soft peaks form. Add sugar slowly while increasing the speed to high.
4. Once stiff peaks form, add black pepper and mix one last time to evenly distribute the black pepper.
5. At this stage, you can pipe the meringue into various shapes. Chef Wai Leong prefers to spread the meringue thinly on baking or silicon sheets to form shards.
6. Bake the meringues in an oven preheated to its lowest setting until the meringues are crispy, about 90 mins. Cool and store in a dry place for up to 2 days.
7. GINGER SYRUP Bring water and sugar to a boil until sugar has fully dissolved. Add ginger and bring back to a simmer.
8. Take off the heat, cover the pot with cling film and leave to steep till the mixture is at room temperature. Remove the ginger and chill the liquid in the fridge.
9. FRIED LAKSA LEAVES Fry laksa leaves in batches in oil preheated to 170 C and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Store in a cool and dry place in an airtight container.
10. Plate ingredients with scoops of icecream any way you iike – just have fun!
Woo Wai Leong, Chef-owner, Restaurant Ibid
“The ice-cream sandwich is quite special to us Singaporeans, I remember eating raspberry ripple flavoured ice-cream nestled within a multi-coloured soft and fluffy sandwich from old uncles selling ice-cream sandwiches on motorbikes. My version of this embraces Asian flavours, and instead of raspberry, I use goji berries, an ingredient I use a lot. Have fun with this dessert, plate it up messily and haphazardly as you see fit! Better yet, organise all the ingredients in the middle of the table and let your guests design their own ice-cream sandwich!”
SINGAPORE CURRY CHICKEN
By Chef Damian D’Silva
Prep 30 mins | Cook 45 to 60 mins | Serves 10-12
2 free range chickens, cleaned and cut into
10 pcs each
8 kaffir lime leaves
1 litre coconut juice
1 litre coconut milk
200 ml cooking oil (can be removed after the paste is completed)
Salt, to taste
WET SPICES (REMPAH)
30 dried chillies, soaked in hot water
2 cups shallots, peeled, topped and tailed
2 red onions, peeled, topped and tailed
3 pcs kencur (fragrant ginger), skinned
3 thumb-sized galangal, skinned
6 lemongrass, white part only, sliced
20 cloves garlic, skinned
2 thumb-sized old ginger, skinned
1 thumb-sized fresh turmeric, skinned
10 candlenuts, soaked in water
6 tbsps coriander seeds, roasted till fragrant
2 tbsps cumin, roasted till fragrant
2 tbsps fennel seeds, roasted till fragrant
1. REMPAH Place all ingredients in a blender or in batches, and blend till a smooth paste is achieved. Set aside.
2. DRY SPICES Place all the spices in a dry grinder and grind till fine. Set aside.
3. Place cooking oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
4. When oil is hot, add the wet-spice mixture and stir continuously till paste is fragrant and oil has split from the paste. This will take between 10 and 15 mins.
5. Add the dry-spice mixture and continue to cook for another 5 mins. Now is a good time to remove the oil, if any.
6. Add chicken pieces and kaffir lime leaves and stir, making sure the spice paste coats the chicken. If the paste sticks, add some coconut juice.
7. Cook for 10 mins, then add the coconut juice and cook for another 10 mins.
8. Add the coconut milk and cook for a further 20 mins, till the oil separates.
9. Pierce the chicken with a sharp blade to check for doneness – juices should run clear. Add salt, about 2 tbsps per bird. The curry should have a slightly “thickish” consistency. Serve with steamed rice, roti jala or slices of French loaf.
Damian D’Silva, Executive Chef, Folklore
“It’s obvious why I chose this dish as all the different ethnicities have their own version of a curry. This one will have flavours that will appeal to everyone. Kencur is very Malay; ginger is Chinese; there are Indian aspects in the cumin, coriander and fennel, which are also very Eurasian; galangal and lemongrass are Peranakan; and we all use dried chillies. I wanted the taste to be well-balanced – it’s perfect for a potluck party.”
CRISPY BABY SQUID WITH SALTED EGG AIOLI
By Chef Sujatha Asokan
Prep 30 mins (plus infusing of oil) | Cook 5 mins | Serves 4-5
300 g baby squid, squeeze the head of the baby squid to remove the mouth, and remove the backbone and ink sac
300 g tempura flour, store bought Fine salt, to taste
SALTED EGG AIOLI
20 pcs fried curry leaves
34 g condensed milk
5 salted egg yolks, steamed
Salt and paprika, to taste
150 ml canola oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 chilli padi, sliced
15 pcs curry leaves
1. INFUSED OIL Lightly saute the garlic, chilli padi and curry leaves with some canola oil till fragrant. Add in the rest of the canola oil and allow to infuse for 24 hours. Strain and reserve for the aioli.
2. SALTED EGG AIOLI In a blender, blend eggs with curry leaves.
3. Gradually add in the infused oil.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till fully incorporated. Season with salt and paprika to your liking. Set aside.
5. CRISPY BABY SQUID Soak the cleaned baby squid in ice water for 5 to 10 mins. Strain to remove excess water.
6. Season the baby squid with some fine salt. Lightly coat in tempura flour and deep fry at 180 C for about 2 mins till crispy.
7. Drain excess oil on a kitchen towel. Serve with Salted Egg Aioli.
Sujatha Asokan, Head Chef, The Garage
“I have a Chinese mum and an Indian father, so I grew up in a household exposed to a melting pot of foods from different cultures. The dish I have picked is one that I love when I go to zi char places for dinner. I would always order salted egg sotong or pork ribs. For this recipe, I’ve given it a contemporary bistro touch, refining the dish with a salted egg yolk aioli with mayonnaise. It’s perfect finger food for when friends come over.”
By Chef Shen Tan
Prep 10 mins (plus soaking) | Cook 2 hours | Serves 6-8
500 g rice, soak for at least
250 g fresh coconut milk
250 ml water
2 slices of ginger
1 tbsp red onion, chopped
½ tsp fenugreek
1 tbsp salt
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 stalks pandan leaves, tied into a knot
½ tbsp coconut oil
1. Strain the rice and place rice in a steamer with the onions, ginger, lemongrass and pandan leaves. Steam until cooked, about 1 hour.
2. Remove cooked rice and soak in the mixture of coconut milk, water, salt and fenugreek for an hour, or until the rice has absorbed all the moisture.
3. Place the rice mixture in the steamer and steam for another 45 mins.
1 kg pork belly, cut into 5-cm cubes
750 ml coconut milk
1 turmeric leaf
2 sticks lemongrass, cut off ends and break in two
5 pcs kaffir lime leaves
3 tbsps chilli powder
⅓ tsp garam masala
1 bay leaf
5 cloves garlic, peeled
10 shallots, peeled
1.5-cm piece blue ginger, peeled
1.5-cm piece of ginger, peeled Salt to taste
2 tbsps fish sauce
1. Blend the rempah ingredients in a food processor until it has a fine paste consistency. Empty into a dutch oven.
2. Preheat oven to 180 C.
3. Add the dry ingredients (except for the pork) and coconut milk to the blended rempah. Bring it to a boil, and let it simmer and reduce by a third.
4. Add the pork belly cubes and place the lid on the dutch oven.
5. Place in oven, and cook rendang for about 2 hrs, until meat is tender.
Prep 45 mins
500 g big red chilli
300 g chilli padi
500 g peeled shallots
200 g sugar
200 g belachan, cut into 1-cm thick slices Lime juice, to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 160 C. Lay flat the belachan and toast for 10 mins.
2. In a food processor, blend the chillies together with the shallots, belachan and sugar.
3. Add in lime juice, to taste, before serving. Store leftover belachan in airtight container in fridge; it keeps for about a week.
Shen Tan, Private dining chef, www.ownselfmakechef.com
“I love that nasi lemak is so not egalitarian – it’s food for the people, and there are so many flavours in the one dish. Growing up, I ate a lot of $1 nasi lemak packets! This one is more elevated and the rice recipe may seem laborious but, trust me, it has a myriad of flavours. Serve with any of your favourite sides – fried ikan bilis, egg and slices of cucumber. I usually have it with pork rendang, and sambal belachan which cuts through the richness better than sambal tumis.”
To make your own coriander oil, blend one part coriander to two parts grapeseed oil. Strain and set aside. Store excess in freezer in an ice-cube tray and use when needed.
DECONSTRUCTED ORH LUAK
By Chef Lee Boon Seng
Prep 30 mins | Cook 15 mins | Serves 4
PORK LARD & DRIED OYSTER “SHELL”
200 ml water
300 g pork skin, cut in 2-cm slices
20 ml rice wine vinegar
80 g pork fat
80 g rice flour
5 g dried oyster powder or ikan bilis powder
1. In a stock pot, boil the pork skin in water and rice wine vinegar until the skin is cooked through (it should be completely soft). Remove from pot and discard the water
2. In a blender, combine the cooked pork skin with the rest of the ingredients until a smooth paste consistency is achieved.
3. Pre-heat a non-stick pan in a 100 to 120 C oven. The cooking surface of the pan should be just hot enough that a drop of water will boil off.
4. Spread a thin layer of the paste, and pan-fry on slow heat until crispy. There should be enough paste to create four “shells”. The shells can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container, till ready for assembling of dish. FERMENTED CHILLI SAUCE
Fermented chilli bean sauce, available from supermarkets
140 g fermented chilli paste
50 ml rice wine vinegar
80 g sugar
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and reduce on low heat, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is reduced by ⅓, remove from heat and set aside, till ready for assembling of dish.
4 Gillardeau oysters or the freshest
European oysters you can get
1 egg white
40 g sea salt
14 g fish sauce
70 ml milk
20 ml cream (with a minimum fat content of 35 per cent)
10 g butter, unsalted
Milled white peppercorns and chopped chives, to taste
10 g ikura or salmon roe
5 g tapioca sago, cooked
8 ml coriander oil (see Chef’s Tip) Micro-cress or micro-flowers, to taste
1. Open the shell and clean the oyster by rinsing with a little ice water. Try not to lose too much of the oyster’s natural juices and ensure the flesh stays within the shell. Close the shell.
2. Beat the egg white with a kitchen mixer and gently fold in sea salt. Spread a thick and even layer of the salted meringue over the clean oysters.
3. Bake in oven at 220 C for 7 to 8 mins. Remove from oven and set aside. Gently keep the oysters warm.
4. SCRAMBLED EGGS Prepare when ready to eat. Whisk eggs, fish sauce, milk, cream and pepper until well-blended.
5. Heat butter in a pan on low heat, then slide egg mixture into the pan.
6. Staying on low heat, slowly cook the egg mixture until it thickens. To ensure perfect eggs, use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold or stir the eggs every few seconds.
7. Fold in chopped chives just as the eggs are starting to set and then immediately remove from heat. The eggs should still be moist when they are removed from the heat. They should not be too “done” as they will continue to cook from the residual heat.
8. Crack open the salted meringue, remove oyster flesh from shell, and set aside. Discard the meringue but keep the shell.
9. Scoop a spoonful of the scrambled eggs onto the oyster shell.
10. Cover the oyster flesh with the fermented chilli sauce, then place on top of scrambled eggs.
11. Top with ikura, sago and micro-cress. Drizzle coriander oil across. Serve immediately with the Pork Lard & Dried Oyster “Shell”.
Lee Boon Seng, Executive Chef, The Spot
“Orh luak or oyster omelette is one of my favourite dishes as I love oysters. But I wanted to elevate this humble hawker dish, so I’ve used contemporary European techniques in creating this deconstructed version of salt-baked oysters on scrambled egg, pork lard and dried oyster ‘shell’, and fermented chilli sauce. You’ll still get key elements of the traditional dish – like the chilli sauce and that decadent pork fat flavour which is found in the shell, but you’ll also get to experience multiple textures and flavours.”