Macchi Tandoori & Raita from The Lion City

COUNTRY 48 – SINGAPORE

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 ke Singapore or Welcome to Singapore!

 Climate Controlled Botanical Gardens by the Bay in 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 (the world's most expensive casino) and the Climate Controlled gardens below that.

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.

Singaporean Cuisine

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

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.

RECIPE

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 750g white fish fillets
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut in wedges

Tandoori paste

  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 shallots
  • 4cm ginger
  • 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

Raita

  • 2 cucumber peeled
  • 1 tbl salt
  • ¾ cup of plain yoghurt
  • bunch of mint, roughly chopped

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Rub both sides of each fish fillet with this mixture and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Place fish in a baking dish and cook in at 200°C for 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. 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.
  5. Mix the cucumber slices with the yoghurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper, can be sprinkled with ground chilli or cumin if desired.
  6. 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.

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Togolese Beef in Spicy Peanut and Tomato Sauce

WEEK 12 – Togo

Beef in Peanut Sauce

So searching for a recipe this week I used my favourite site for obscure cuisines, Celtnet and once again the site lived up to standards, providing three long lists of recipes for me to browse thorough. Scanning the lists I saw a lot of recipes based around seafood this is because Togo in the south borders the ocean.

Togo is one of Africa’s’ smallest countries and resides in West Africa along with other countries such as Ghana, Niger, Benin and several others, a few as small as Togo.

Some interesting things about Togo are : Togo means ‘House of Sea’ in the native Ewe language, For 200 years the coast was raided by Europeans in search of slaves and it was then known as the Slave Coast and the national language is French.

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I choose to make Beef in Peanut Sauce which I sourced from here www.celtnet the recipe is for 6-8 people so I halved the amount of meat and water but everything else I left the same.

Ingredients:

400g beef (I used 4 oyster steaks, which are known as butlers steaks in the UK and flat-iron steaks in the US) cut into bite-sized pieces

4 tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 onion, grated

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, cut into thick long sticks

 1 green capsicum, thickly sliced

1 fresh tomato, diced

250ml tomato purée

vegetable oil

1 vegetable or beef stock cube + 1 cup water

1 hot chilli

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine the grate onion and garlic. Season liberally with salt and black pepper then mix in the beef, cover and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or longer if possible.
  2. Turn the beef mixture into a saucepan and add 35oml water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Drain the meat and reserve the broth.
  3. Add 2 tb of oil to a large wide saucepan (I used a large sauté pan) and fry the beef until nicely browned all over, you might need to do this in two batches as meat does not brown if touching. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tb more oil to the pan then stir in the tomato purée and cook for about 5 minutes, or until dark red in colour. Add the fresh tomato and crush with a wooden spoon. Stir in the peanut butter and the carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more than add the reserved meat broth along with  the stock.
  5. Stir until smooth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. At this point add the beef and chilli. Return to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve hot, accompanied by plain white rice.

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We served this with white rice and some cooked vegetables. The beef and sauce were very nice and I would definitely eat this dish again, the same was said by the rest of the family. Scored: 8/10