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We are right in the midst of Chinese Lunar New Year 2015. The 13th day of 15 days of celebration to be exact. This post has taken a period of time to post and no time is more appropriate than right now when the craziness of house visitors and frequent celebration dinners are held in most Chinese homes.
For the longest time, it has been extraordinarily difficult to locate authentic Singapore dishes not in the vein of Malaysian cooking. Malaysia shines in their own culinary way, but there is a distinct difference in taste and flavours. Much less trying to replicate recipes found on the internet, where it can be a bit of hit and miss.
So to have it all in an instant pack with all herbs and spices sorted and all you have to do is to add fresh produce and cook, all I can say is there is no shame in this game in a busy season or even on a daily basis. Most readers of this blog know I eschew the easy way out if I can with cooking, but I am first to admit it's due to the unsatisfactory standards of instant packs that I prefer to do everything from ground up.
If this comes across as a big advertisement, it probably is with my full endorsement. House of Yi, currently stocked in Daiso and most Asian grocery stores across Australia, has kindly provided a variety of cooking sauces, flours and mixes for this post. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, the brand has not once placed any conditions on my post. This blog strictly does not compromise our integrity for any paid ads.
CRISPY PRAWN FRITTER FLOUR
This takes me back to my grandmother's home. On several occasions I have tried replicating grandma's recipe without much success. This is the very first House of Yi product I purchased. This was solely based on their irresistible picture. Admittedly, I was very skeptical of the result. But voila!
The prawns were juicy inside encased in such a light crispy batter, it was unbelievably true, and possibly better than the advertised picture.
Yup, it was so good, I used it to fry Banana Fritters...although I realise bizarrely they look the same in these pics...
SAMBAL FRIED SHRIMP
It was so surprisingly strong, spicy and pungent, this sambal belachan was versatile enough to fry kang kong and cuttle fish with a wetter consistency or perfect as a dry stir fry with sweet asparagus.
Wonderfully sweet, spicy with a great hit of vinegar, this taste more like the familiar taste of Singapore gong bao ji ding than the slew of Aussie-Chinese offerings found in the bain-marie at foodcourts.
I've opted to put dried chilli flakes and red onions. But you could very well have whole dried chillies in it with capsicum and cashews with a drier consistency.
INSTANT CHILLI CRAB PASTE
I have cooked this paste with crabs but would like to showcase the versatility of this sauce here. I've use mussels and added a little extra ketchup in my version. It is sweet, spicy but tangy at the same time. Such an easy tasty option for a quick lunch or dinner!
BLACK PEPPER CRAB PASTE
Again, another paste that can be used in a variety of ways and with different protein. This black pepper crab paste is gutsy and bold in flavour. Forget the honey pepper sauce you find in the common chinese takeaway joint. Singapore is famous for their 2 varieties of flavouring their crabs - Singapore Chilli and Black Pepper. I love adding a smidge of butter and a handful of fragrant curry leaves to my black pepper dishes.
My favourite is large diced beef eye fillet pan-fried and smothered in black pepper sauce. But just as enticing is this seared scallop and sugar snap peas combo.
CRISPY BUTTER CEREAL PRAWNS
This was one of my absolute favourite tse tzar dishes in Singapore. This version is also uncanny with what they sell in Malaysia. So crispy and knock-your-socks-off fragrant with the addition of curry leaves...
|There were more cereal when we started, but I couldn't resist |
TONGPO STEWED MEAT
I could go the normal route and used the other House of Yi pack they had for dao you bak. But I wanted to try something different and more aromatic. The wonderful smells from the pressure cooker and the tasty morsels with juices oozing from the deletable dried shitake mushrooms all plumped from the gravy were all worth it. Pork was tender and seeing as I cooked over 2kg of meat, I did use a power punch of 3 packs.
CHICKEN RICE MIX
We thought how wonderful to have chicken rice as an accompaniment to the stewed pork above. We didn't cook the whole hog (pardon the pun) of labour-intensive Singapore Hainanese Chicken, but it was so quick and easy to cheat with the Chicken Rice Mix. Wash rice and mix with the sauce from House of Yi, and yay, chicken rice! The only permissible form of cheating in my book, delicieux!
FISH HEAD CURRY
I used Rockling Fish Head in the photo here but we have used this paste several times with great success with Snapper Fish Heads, which I prefer. Apparently it is no easy task sourcing for fish heads in Singapore. However, in Australia, it is still an undiscovered delicacy. Not only is it more readily available, it is also relatively cheap. Do get your fishmonger to scale the head for you as it makes life so much easier.
The Malaysian versions I have had in restaurants here are sorely lacking in the tang and the assam punch of the Singapore version. I dream of Apollo and Banana Leaf...and I am quite happy to report with about 3 packs and a huuuge head, pineapples, tomatoes, eggplant, lady fingers, that dream is fulfilled. For those who are squeamish about using fish head, using fillets on a smaller scale with 1 pack will do just fine. I did add extra assam (tamarind) juice though for the extra kick. Mum was pretty happy without it, but it's individual preference to taste.
SINGAPORE LAKSA PASTE
The elusive Katong Laksa flavour is still not within my grasp But for a quick fix, the House of Yi version is probably as boldly spicy as you can get. I added a bit too much coconut cream for health reason, but it was unctuous and rich.
FRAGRANT FRIED CHICKEN
If you can hear my lewd and bawdy wolf-whistle, good. This was a surprise hit. It lived up to its name and was crunchy to hilt. As with most deep fried food, not a daily must-have, but what a special treat!