Hands down, the best, soupiest xiao long bao in Singapore can be found at Padang Palace restaurant. I always go there just for their XLB and their dim sum.
In Shanghai, there has been a sudden and recent explosion of “boutique” beer bars and microbreweries. It appears that for both locals and foreigners alike, the current drinking trend is beer. However, this is not just your average easy drinking beer like Tsingtao or a local pilsner. Everyone is mad for premium, imported brews–the harder to find and more unusual the better. While the classic Paulaner beer gardens of Shanghai remain respectably busy, the places that are really packing them in are exactly these “boutique” beer bars and microbreweries.
Over the past few months, the way that I have been cooking has changed irrevocably. You see, late last year, I picked up a device from Singapore’s newest, coolest and easily largest kitchen store, ToTT, that has not only changed the way that I cook but also what I am cooking.
The device is a SousVide Supreme, which is something you quite simply need to use to realize just how revolutionary it can be for a home chef. I am sure by now most of us are familiar with seeing the words “sous-vide” on restaurant menus.
When my svelte and sexy wife S and I first started dating, one of her friends described me (behind my back) as a “very porky person”. I’m not sure if she was talking about my ever-growing mid-section or the fact that my favourite meat was and still is pork. I’m hoping that it is the latter.
Maybe it’s a Chinese thing — to love pork so much — but for whatever reason, it’s the one meat I don’t think I’d be able to live without. Take me off beef? No problem. No lamb? Wouldn’t miss it. Even chicken I could leave behind, but pork? No way. And, of course, I have a few favourite preparations. Top of the list are xiao long bao and siu yuk. I don’t think I’ll be making xiao long bao any time soon. That said, I do keep hoping (aloud and as often as possible) that S will one day master the technique of preparing these delicious soupy dumplings. But siu yuk, or crispy roast pork belly, didn’t seem too complex. I mean, if I could make pretty decent char siu, surely I could roast me some pig belly too.
When I was counting down my favourite meals of last year, I wrote that one of them was had at Neil Perry’s very sexy Chinese restaurant, Spice Temple. While I had originally gone in slightly skeptical, I left a believer. And while the food may not have been the most authentic, it certainly had flavour, and a lot of heart.
Since then, and because of that visit, my hot and hungry spouse S and I have been cooking more and more from Perry’s Chinese cookbook, Balance and Harmony: Asian Food. It was a book that we had originally purchased (before our meal at Spice Temple) because it was, well, pretty. As cookbook collectors, we occasionally buy texts not because we want to cook from them but because of the pictures, or the layout and design, or because we have all of the chef’s other books, or for any number of reasons. Neil’s recent books are beautiful. They’re a joy to look at, with clean design and gorgeous photos. And so, while we had poured over Balance and Harmony: Asian Food several times, we had never intended to actually use it as a real reference. When we wanted to cook Chinese, we usually turned to authorities like Barbara Tropp, Fuchsia Dunlop or Grace Young. But after that meal at Spice Temple, we decided to give Perry’s book a try. And we’ve been really happy we did.
One of the most satisfying and simple comfort foods in Chinese cuisine is the wonton. A hot bowl of wonton soup is perfect when exhausted or ill. A serving of wontons sauced with a thick, reduced chicken stock is a delicious snack. A portion, tossed in a spicy homemade chilli-oil sauce, can be a fantastically exciting dish to serve friends. And when served with homemade noodles and charsiu (roast pork), they can become part of a bowl full of heaven.
Making wontons at home is something our mothers all did at some point in our childhoods, which also infuses them with that magical quality of nostalgia. For many, slurping down a bowl full of delicious wontons is nothing short of recapturing some of the best parts of their youth.
I really love the “new” National Museum of Singapore. I think what architect Mok Wei Wei has done with this space is simply fantastic. He took an aging institution, preserved and updated its best and […]
When I was in high school, my favourite night of the week was Thursday. It had nothing to do with the shows on television that night (although I have to admit I was a fan […]