Lion City, Garden City, and the Red Dot are all other names given to this island country. A mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western culture, this country is one of tradition and new technology. Asia’s most influential city and the world’s 7th greenest city, selamat datang keSingapore or Welcome to Singapore!
Climate Controlled Botanical Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
This is where I usually talk about the country’s capital city but Singapore doesn’t have a capital as the whole country is basically one big island and 60 other small islands. So I am going to talk about the Downtown Core of Singapore as this is the CBD and where the main population resides and where several cultural landmarks are. The area surrounds the mouth of the Singapore River and is a 266 hectares in size. In 1822 under orders from Sir Stamford Raffles the Jackson Plan for the Town of Singapore was created, this urban plan was to organise to city, into segregated sections each minority having its own areas. The ideas for segregation were later taken away but the layout and streets are still very similar. Raffles Place (commercial area) and the European Town now make up the Downtown Core.
Singapore’s Skyline. Marina Bay Sands over to the left (a resort and the world’s most expensive casino) and the durian shaped Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (performing arts centre) below that.
Singapore a country with an extremely multicultural and diverse population is the same in its food. A melting pot, heavy with big flavours, spices and condiments. It’s roughly 74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian, and 3% Eurasian which together create a cuisine of rice and noodles, of seafood and meat, of curries and stir-fry’s and soups. Many traditional Singaporean meals have been created by mixing and borrowing the flavours of the various different cuisines present. Some dishes like this include: Hokkien mee, Wonton mee, Singaporean-style Biryani.
Most people to eat head out to Hawker Centres to get their meals, these are open-air enclosed “food courts” with dozens of stalls preparing a few signature dishes, hawker centres get extremely packed at prime meal times with a sometimes half hour wait to get served. The other style of food court is Cze Chas (Eating Houses) which are also open-air and enclosed but have fewer stalls and each stall has longer menus, they are considerably less busy and their is table service. Kopitiams (a mix of the Malay word for coffee and the Chinese word for shop) are coffee shops but also places for a small bite or quick meal and long chats with large groups of people.
The most popular dishes from influences such as China, India and Malaysia are: Hokkein mee from the Fuijan Province, China, Hainanese chicken rice from Southern China, Carrot Cake (not just your average carrot cake) from Fujianese region China, Roti from Indian influence, Laska a mix of Chinese and Malaysian flavours, Popiah from Southern China, Rojak from Malay influence and Chilli Crab one of the most iconic Singaporean dishes.
Spicy Singapore Laksa
WHAT I MADE
I decided to look through our various Asian and Singaporean cookbooks we have at home. Lucky me I found a recipe in one of the books so I didn’t need to research for ages! I wanted to make something interesting something I hadn’t had or made before I chose a baked fish dish. Macchi Tandoori & Raita : Marinated Baked Fish & Cucumber in Yoghurt, this recipe was sourced from a cookbook we have at home called the Food 0f Singapore – Authentic Recipes from the Lion City by Djoko Wibisono. The same author has a new cookbook out this year called The Food of Singapore: Simple Street Food Recipes from the Lion City.
750g white fish fillets
1 lime or lemon, cut in wedges
2.5cm fresh turmeric, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
3 large cloves garlic
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbl Tandoori paste or powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper (not essential you can just use black pepper)
¾ cup plain yoghurt
1 tbl lemon juice
2 cucumber peeled
1 tbl salt
¾ cup of plain yoghurt
bunch of mint, roughly chopped
Make Tandoori paste by pounding or blending the turmeric, shallots, ginger and garlic together until fine (add a little yoghurt if hard to mix). Mix this with the remaining ingredients.
Rub both sides of each fish fillet with this mixture and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
Place fish in a baking dish and cook in at 200°C for 30 minutes or until firm.
Halve cucumbers lengthwise and remove seeds with a small spoon (I used a teaspoon). Cut in thin slices and put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt. Leave to marinate for about 10 minutes, then squeeze out the water. Rinse and drain.
Mix the cucumber slices with the yoghurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper, can be sprinkled with ground chilli or cumin if desired.
Serve fish hot with wedges of lime, boiled rice and accompanied with Raita.
This recipe was full of big flavours that really packed a punch! It was only the second time I think I’ve ever filleted fish, so that was a new experience and I’d also never worked with fresh turmeric, let me say it stains your hands like crazy! I’d advise using some plastic gloves when handling. Also the techniques for preparing the cucumbers for Raita was different to how I usually make it but has taught me a new technique I will now know and use. My score for this recipe is 7/10.
When I picked Laos out of the box I was utterly thrilled, Mum always raves about Lao food and tells me all about traveling in Laos with Dad in the 90’s.
Located in Southeast Asia it has many bordering countries and is also landlocked. In the 14th century Laos was known as the kingdom of Lan Xang, after four centuries it then split into three kingdoms. In 1893, when Laos came under French rule with the three kingdoms (Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak) it finally came together to form what is now modern-day Laos.
Sadly Laos ranks as the 25th hungriest nation in the world this being because a third of the Lao population live below the international poverty line which is living on less than US $1.25 per day.
The most commonly eaten food in Laos is sticky rice, the Lao even like to call themselves the “luk khao niaow”, which in English means “children or descendants of sticky rice” Let’s just say they love their sticky rice.The two most famous dishes from Laos are Larb which is a spicy meat mixed salad and green papaya salad, Tum Mak Hoong, or Som Tam Lao.
So I looked at some different recipes and I decided on a Luke Nguyen recipe off the SBS website: Pork and Buffalo patties with sticky rice though I thought I’d opt for beef instead of buffalo, here’s the page www.sbs.com.au. Also I chose to serve the patties with a dipping sauce, for which I used this recipe, roasted-tomato-dipping-sauce and I also made a salad to accompany it all – lao-mixed-salad .
Recipes:Lao Pork and Beef Patties Serves 6
5 red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
5 lemongrass stems, white part only
500 g minced (ground) buffalo or beef
500 g minced (ground) pork
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp chilli powder
60 ml ( ¼ cup) fish sauce
6 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 handful chopped dill
Pound the shallot and lemongrass to a paste in a large mortar. Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together well, then shape into 12 patties, about 6 cm (2 inches) across and 2 cm (1 inch) thick. Chill.
Heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan with 1 TB oil, to medium-high. Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.
Serve the patties hot, with sticky rice, and salad, delicious dipping sauce, or Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Lao Mixed Salad with Fried Peanuts and Garlic Serves 4
1 large hard-cooked egg, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 cups mixed leaf salad
½ bunch watercress sprigs only
2 tablespoons chopped salted peanuts
Separate the yolk and white. Thinly slice the white. Put the yolk in a small bowl, add the vinegar and honey and whisk or use electric beater and beat until smooth. While beating, slowly pour in the 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
In a medium frypan, heat ¼ inch of oil. Add the shallot rings and fry over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot rings to paper towels to drain. Add the garlic to the hot oil and fry, stirring a few times, until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer the garlic to the paper towels.
In a large bowl, drizzle the tomato and cucumber slices with 1 tablespoon of the dressing and toss gently. Arrange the slices around a platter. Add the mixed salad, watercress and sliced egg white to the bowl, top with the remaining dressing and toss well. Mound the salad on the platter, garnish with the peanuts and the fried shallot and garlic and serve.
In the recipe it calls for a grill, but ours is broken at the moment, so we opted for charring our vegetables in a smoking hot pan with a little olive oil. Also in the recipe it says to use 12 garlic cloves which I didn’t do – Mimsey said “No way!” So I only used 4 cloves, as my family didn’t want garlic breath for the next week.
And we wanted to enjoy the dipping sauce without blowing our head off with it being so hot, so I used 2 long red chillies instead of the recommended 8 Thai chillies, which are extremely hot! Traditionally we should have used a mortar and pestle to combine ingredients, but we used the food processor because we were in a hurry – it was getting late and the family was getting grumpy! Mimsey over-processed it a little bit, but it was still chunky and tasted awesome! Recipe came from www.chefseng.com/jeow-marg-len-roasted-tomato-dipping-sauce/
15 cherry tomatoes or small tomatoes cut into large pieces
4 garlic cloves
1/2 red onion or two shallots
2 long red chillies
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ bunch of coriander (cilantro) chopped
Bamboo skewers / or to fry 1 dsp peanut oil
If using a grill – Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent burning.
Cut onions and chillies into 2-inch pieces (leave cherry tomatoes whole if using) push skewers through all the vegetables.
Grill for about 15 minutes, until nicely charred but not burnt.
If using a pan – Heat a small frypan pan on medium-high heat, when hot add the oil and fry the vegetables till softened and charred. about 5-10 minutes.
If using a mortar and pestle – Using mortar and pestle, pound charred chilies, garlic and onions until all are well mixed and mashed. Add cooked tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, lightly mix. Stir in coriander.
If using a food processor – Place all ingredients except coriander in the food processor and whizz briefly till rough and still chunky, about 10 seconds. Stir in coriander.
What we thought
Served all together, this meal was delicious and one we won’t forget for a while. Mimsey helped me make this meal as there was so many elements and things to do, so thank you Mims. As usual it all took heaps longer to do than I thought, but it really was worth the effort! Score was 10/10 for everyone!