We cast our eye on the local dining scene and show you how to make the hottest dishes from Mookata to Korean Fried Chicken in your kitchen By Sylvia Ong
Louisiana Seafood Boil
If there’s one dish that you can demand everyone’s attention, it’s the seafood boil. The seafood boil, which hails from Louisiana in the US (also the hometown of Popeyes fried chicken chain, and Britney Spears) is literally fresh seafood boiled in a bag. The Cajun Kings is the first restaurant in Singapore that ignited the love for this grubby one-pot wonder where shellfish is the star ingredient. Mix up different varieties of seafood that’s freshly available at the moment: Prawns, crabs, crayfish, scampi, mussels and clams; and add baby potatoes, corn cobs and even smoked sausages to the pot. Chef of The Cajun Kings, Andrei Soen, says all you have to do is to boil, steam or bake them with a generous seasoning of cayenne pepper, hot sauce, salt, lemons and bay leaf, or simply just use Cajun spice.
The Cajun Kings is at 15 Jalan Riang, Tel: 6284 4426.
How to make Louisiana Shrimp Boil
Impress your guests with this recipe by Chef Andrei Soen
Prep 20 mins /Cook 60 mins / Serves 6 – 8
½ cup salt ¼ cup sweet paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powder ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 4 bay leaves 1 small onion, sliced 1 head garlic, halved crosswise 1 sprig fresh thyme 1 tbsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp ground coriander 1 kg small red potatoes, washed 6 ears of corn, cut into smaller pieces 2 kg fresh large shrimps, unpeeled and heads on
1 Put the salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, lemon juice, bay leaves, onions, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, and coriander into a large pot with 7 L of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, for about 20 mins.
2 Add the potatoes to the broth and cook until almost tender, for about 15 mins. Add the corn and cook for 6 mins. Add shrimps and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimps are just cooked through, about 5 mins more.
3 Using a large slotted spoon, strain them out of the boiling liquid.
4 Pour the shrimps, corn and potatoes onto a table covered with newspaper, and let everyone dig in. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.
Few things make weekend mornings worth waking up for than the enticing aroma of bacon and sausages on the grill. That’s why people are flocking to cafes like Two Bakers for brunch to start the day right. It’s not difficult to make your brunch platter at home, but it does require patience, says Jessica, owner of Two Bakers: “Wait for the oil or butter to heat up to the right temperature before placing food into the pan or all you get is greasy food. You will know that the oil is hot enough when it glistens and shimmers, and swirls when you move the pan. Butter is ready once it starts to bubble. If you see smoke, it’s too late.”
Two Bakers is at 88 Horne Road, Tel: 6293 0329.
How to make your own All-Day Brunch Platter
Jessica Chin, from Two Bakers, shows you how to properly sizzle your sausages and scramble your eggs
For perfectly fried sausages:
“Heat oil until it starts to shimmer, then place sausages onto the pan. Brown the sausages on all sides and reduce heat to low, letting it fry gently without bursting its skin. Do not prick or slit the sausages as these will cause all the lovely meat flavours to ooze out onto the pan and not in your mouth.”
For the fluffiest scrambled eggs:
“Whisk the eggs vigorously until they are fully combined. The vigorous beating also introduces air into the mixture and makes it fluffy. Pour into a buttered pan and stir the eggs with a spatula or whisk until they are 80 per cent cooked. Remove the pan from the fire and let the eggs continue to cook on residual heat till it’s nicely cooked.”
Hong Kong Noodles
A bowl of Hong Kong wonton noodles must consist of springy al dente egg noodles seeped in fragrant seafood broth, and topped with wontons wrapped with lots of shrimp bits. The difference between this delicate dish and the usual hawker fare lies in the noodles. “So long as you have good quality noodles, you’re already one step closer to serving ‘QQ’ noodles,” says Quah Zhen Kang, head chef at SIFU, a modern cha chan ting restaurant.
SIFU is at #01-69 Bugis Junction, Tel: 6337 7613.
How to cook Springy Hong Kong Noodles
It’s all about dunking noodles in contrasting temperature, says Chef Quah Zhen Kang
Make it hot
“Before you toss the noodle in, make sure the water is boiling rapidly. Drop the noodles in to cook for 1 or 2 mins, using one chopstick to stir and loosen the noodle strands.”
Make it cold
“Once out of the hot water, dunk the strainer of noodles straight into cold water, dipping it a few times. Then toss it back into hot boiling water once before draining all water off and placing noodles on a plate of sauce.”
We all love a dish with a bit of heat, that’s why we enjoy Mookata, a Thai steamboat that’s firing up in Singapore recently. “Mookata” means “pork” and “skillet”, and features a grill plate surrounded by a steamboat moat. Pork lard is used to oil the skillet so the grease slides off together with all the juices and the fat from the meat and right into the soup. To marinate your meat, all you need is Thai light bean soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and minced garlic, says Nicole Tay, co-owner of Mookata at ORTO. “Use this set of ingredients as your base and add variants to the flavours, like black pepper or tom yum, for a spicier kick.”
Mookata is at #01-04 ORTO, 81 Lorong Chencharu, Tel: 6257 5198.
How to marinate meat for Mookata
Nicole Tay of Mookata shows us how to marinate meats the Thai way
Thai light bean soy sauce
1 Cut meat to about 0.5 cm thick and 4 cm wide. Add the marinating ingredients in one by one. Massage the meat by hand for about 5 mins and ensure they are evenly coated.
2 Let it sit in the fridge for about 3 hours so the flavours seep into the meat. Now, it’s ready to be grilled!
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
Yangnyum chicken is popping up on menus all over Singapore. Koreans will say that it is the crunchy-like-candy fried batter and the thick and tangy spicy sauce that makes this casual dish a cut above other fried chicken. So we asked Luke Yi, the Chief Chicken Man of Chicken Up the trick to create crackly Korean Fried Chicken at home. His answer: “Fresh chicken and a good marinade” is all it takes.
Chicken Up Korean Restaurant is at #01-01, 48 Tanjong Pagar Road, Tel: 6327 1203.
How to cook Korean Fried Chicken
Try this recipe by Luke Yi from Chicken Up
1 kg chicken parts 3 tbsps soju or sake ½ cup milk ½ tbsp minced garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 In a large bowl, mix chicken, rice wine, milk, minced garlic and salt and pepper, until well combined. Set aside for one hour before deep frying.
1 Put 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tbsp minced garlic onto a heated pan.
2 Add ½ cup ketchup, 1/3 cup rice syrup, ¼ cup hot pepper paste (Gochujang), 1 tbsp apple vinegar, and let the mixture simmer on low heat for about 7 mins, stirring occasionally.
3 Once chicken is cooked and ready, drizzle the sauce over the chicken and let it coat evenly.
MODERN SOUTH- EAST ASIAN FOOD
The latest cuisine to be “modernised” or given the classical European culinary treatment is familiar fare: Southeast Asian. There’s really nothing fussy or complicated here, but a philosophy to “take pure regional flavours, execute them in a well-mannered way and plate them in a style similar to western cuisine”, according to chef-owner Jeremy Cheok of Slake, a gastropub at Opera Estate who serves this up. And wait, it’s not fusion food, says Jeremy, “The flavours are pure and familiar, but just presented with a contemporary twist!”
Slake is at 15 Swan Lake Ave, Tel: 9245 0184.
How to treat these foods right
Chef-owner Jeremy Cheok shares some industry secret techniques
“Once the flesh turns just opaque all the way through, it’s time to remove from the heat and allow residual heat to cook it through. If you use high heat to cook, it should only be cooked briefly.”
“Always rest your beef before serving so it loses less juice when you cut it. As a rule of thumb, the resting time is usually half its cooking time. So if you’d spent 6 mins searing it, let rest for 3 mins.”
“Before cooking mushrooms, let it dry out on low heat of 100 C in the oven for about 45 mins. This way, the mushrooms absorb the flavours of the aromatics or sauce much better.”