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Category Archives: Singapore

Cold Hot Yin Yang

Selection of dishes last night from "Every Grain of Rice"

Selection of dishes last night from “Every Grain of Rice”

Well, it’s summer, so I shouldn’t complain. But my nose is running, my forehead sweating and my tongue burning. Nope, not sick. Just eating dinner made from recipes from my new cook book “Every Grain of Rice.”ย Second evening I’ve tried out some dishes now – last night was too good to stop.
Since living in Singapore a while back, I’ve become a believer in the idea that some foods are naturally “hot” and some are naturally “cool.”ย  Also some people run warm (me) and some people run cool. The whole yin and yang idea. And the Chinese have these elaborate rules or rather customs about what to eat when in order to keep the body in order (i guess I should be eating a lot more cucumbers and watermelon). But I think I am generally a rule breaker…and I know I would always go for the dish with the chilies rather than the one without.

Cold Sichaun Chicken

Cold Sichaun Chicken

Therefore my selection of recipes in the past couple days is more reflective of what I like to eat than it is of the weather or my general temperature/disposition: Cold Sichaun Chicken (it’s served cold…so should be fine, right? Chicken is poached in advance then allowed to cool before you shred the meat and mix it with the sauce sprinkling sichaun pepper on top and roasted sesame seeds at the end). Lotus root salad with mushrooms, chilies, dried shrimp (root = hot, mushrooms = hot, chilies = hot…hmmm), and mustard greens…which chilies and ginger and garlic. Hot Hot Hot. Oh and tonight…Ma Po Tofu (hot), and cucumbers and wood ear mushrooms (mixed).

Still…worth it. Haven’t cooked with sichaun pepper in a very long time. Lovely flavor and numb tongue feeling.

Can highly recommend the cookbook. I like it because unlike some other Chinese cookbooks I have, the list of ingredients is REALLY short – the food is home cooking and simply relies on very fast sauteing in most cases and the natural flavors of the food.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Cooking at home, Singapore

 

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Guacamole Ice Cream

Haas avocados waiting for processing

Haas avocados waiting for processing

I had two recipes I wanted to try this past weekend, both perfect foils for the hot weather that I anticipated would be deeply satisfying. The fruit bowl up there actually represents the key ingredients for both. First I wanted to try a Spanish Gazpacho with almonds and balls of melon (the melon is still waiting on my windowsill). Then I also wanted to make an avocado ice cream. I didn’t get to either over the weekend, but I finally did the ice cream yesterday morning.

And before you look twice at my blog entry title and say “oh, yuck!” you should know that it was just to catch your attention and I truly wouldn’t be tempted to make guacamole ice cream. I have had great ice cream with chili in it (chili and chocolate), delicious and refreshing lemon and lime sorbets, and certainly I could imagine messing around with some cumin in ice cream, or maybe a savory sorbet, and I know for certain that avocado ice cream is amazing. But all together? In ice cream? Nope, I don’t need to try it.

In Singapore a year ago I had some avocado ice cream and it was delicious. Super creamy from the milk/cream content but also the natural texture of the avocado. I rarely make ice cream, though, and it wasn’t until recently that I started to think about trying out some interesting flavors. I have a 12 year old ice cream maker that has been used less than a dozen times because it requires a lot of space in the freezer and advance planning. We can get the best ice cream here just a 10 minute bike ride away…so there has been little temptation.

Temptation did come in April this year, however, when I saw my parents in Paris. One night we went out for dinner and one of the desserts was a parsley ice cream. I know, you might think….”Parsley? In ice cream?” But trust me, it was delicious and it was the most amazing green color. Here’s a photo (I didn’t take this one, but someone else did at the same restaurant and posted it online):

Parsley ice cream with strawberries

Parsley ice cream with strawberries

I haven’t yet found a recipe for this, but I think I need to try experimenting soon.

Meanwhile, I came across a recipe over on Food 52ย  in my general blog scroll a few mornings back for avocado ice cream and I was immediately hooked. I bought all the ingredients on Saturday with the plan to make it on Sunday (that got quickly derailed, but that was yesterday’s story), and froze the ice cream bowl Saturday afternoon.

It didn’t all come together until yesterday morning, but when it did….wow! Very delicious. Better than the Singapore version and I can imagine adding some chocolate chunks in there to make it even better.

Avocados and custard ready for the freezer

Avocados and custard ready for the freezer

The recipe is very straightforward: you make your custard on the stove with the standard milk, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Then you cool it in the fridge, cut up your avocado and add a cup of cream and puree everything together. It will already be very thick and creamy.

Freezing it all up

Freezing it all up

Then you add everything to your ice cream maker (I have a hand-crank – I went and looked at the electric equivalent and the good ones were HUGE and stupidly expensive – 500 euros, so mine will continue to serve just fine), stir for about 20 minutes and then transfer to the freezer for the final hardening.

Eat and enjoy.It’s a little more yellow than green, I would even be tempted to add some natural food coloring the next time around…

Green and creamy - avocado gelato

Green and creamy – avocado gelato

 

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Back in Singapore, Lah

Almost There

Almost There

Almost two weeks ago now, I was surprised to find myself REALLY on a plane to Singapore. For work. In the past two months or so, it had looked more and more like it wasn’t going to happen. Client delays, questions about resourcing in Germany, the usual blah blah…all contributed. But then there I was. Looking at a monitor that showed the 12 hour flight was almost over and we would be landing soon.

Travel for work is usually a weekly affair. You take off Monday morning and head home Friday evening – worst case scenario. In this case, I have an 8 week deal. It will/would be hard to be away from home for 8 weeks, but it was a great chance to work with a new client, a new team, and a new challenge (ok, so that sounds so cliche and insincere to even my ears, but it’s true. Oh, and it would be a deluge of great food…yeah, there is that). Only thing not really new was the PLACE. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I had never worked in Singapore, only studied, so that was also new.

So here I am. The usual efficiency at Changi Airport greated me and within 25 minutes or so I was through immigration and in a taxi on my way to the apartment that the Singapore office had rented for me to meet the real estate agent and sign some papers saying the apartment looked, well, yes – JUST FINE: ๐Ÿ™‚

The Pad

The Pad

Nothing to complain about there – and an easy 5 minute walk to work, no exaggeration. I am on the 27th floor of this huge high rise, and if I poke my head outside the window and look down to the 7th floor, here’s what I see:

The View From Above

The View From Above

Yes, massive construction just outside the window (and on Sunday morning, there is no pause…the work goes on, so the windows are open right now, and the not-so-nice sound of metal clanging on metal jars a bit), but also the most massive pool…which ironically I have not yet been in. Maybe today.

I managed to stay awake the whole first day, which was a blessing because then by day 2 the jetlag was gone gone gone.

We wouldn’t be really kicking off the project for about a week – the team was assembling from around the world and everyone needed a few days to get here. So meanwhile, I dealt with moving in and picking up things like towels and a toaster, etc. not provided with the apartment as well as working on some preliminary planning and documentation.

Here’s the team. I’m not sure Jussi (Art Director from Sweden) would want me to publish this photo, and Brandon (Content Strategist from Singapore) got his face removed by the application that lets me do these panoramas, but here they are anyway. This was during our kickoff meeting.

The Singapore Team

The Singapore Team

There are about 15 of us working on the project and during the last week we’ve spent considerable time getting to know each other and learning how we can work together effectively. (Sorry, more buzz phrases, I need to think a little longer about how to make things sound less biz-speak or I might hate myself by the end of this post.)

One easy topic here that keeps conversation light and amusing is of course my favorite one: Food.

Yes, I am back in foodie paradise, and am really reveling in the fact that I can be at the Maxwell Food Centre in around 3 minutes when I walk out the door from work.

Some highlights from the past two weeks of lunches and dinners:

Foodie Paradise

Foodie Paradise

Ok, so are you dying with envy yet? No? Well, let’s see if I can change that over the next six weeks.

So of course with all this good stuff, there is the other side of the equation (pesky calories), but I am happy to say that there has been no pause in my sports regimen. I am in the gym or running outside every day. I joined a gym for the rest of the time I will be here last week. It’s a 1 kilometer walk away from the apartment, about 10 minutes at a decent walking pace. And it opens at 6 in the morning, so really there is no excuse not to get in a workout before I start the day. The gym in the condo here is ok, but half the machines don’t work properly and even in the morning at 6:30 there are other people waiting to use the machines that do work. And running outside, while not so bad, is a really wet and sweaty affair that is ok once in awhile, but not every day. The walk to the gym takes me just pass chinatown – where there are a whole range of temples and mosques. I pass this Hindu temple every day and have to stop and stare.

Hindu Temple

Hindu Temple

We kicked off the project with the client last week after a week of prep and planning. Seems almost impossible to believe that I have only been here just short of two weeks. Somehow it feels like 2 months already. But at least that is an indicator that I feel quite at home.

Just as we were about to kick off the first meeting, I glanced out the window and saw this:

Thunderstorm on its way

Thunderstorm on its way

Singapore is great for its wonderful thunderstorms. So even though I didn’t have my umbrella on me (wrong decision that day), I wasn’t too worried. And I was amused by the fact that it would likely crash and boom outside while we were introducing ourselves. (It didn’t though.)

We spent a few minutes checking out products in the store downstairs and looking at the digital interfaces…and then headed back to the office.

Checking out the Singtel Store

Checking out the Singtel Store

Friday night number two finally rolled around and I decided to take a break from computer screens and go walk around LIttle India.

I jumped on the MRT and was there in 20 minutes. Nice. Public transport that is just as good if not better than Munich’s.

After eating dinner at a little stall on the street, I decided to slowly walk to the temple of all temples in Little India: the Mustafa superstore. This place…I don’t even know how to describe this place. Look:

Mustafa

Mustafa

What you can’t see, is the fact that this place stretches down the street for like…a half a kilometer. No joke. They sell…everything in this place. I needed a few things: some cleaning supplies, a couple decent knives, a little kitchen mat. I almost cried walking through the place – you walk and walk and walk and walk and it doesn’t let up. The inventory goes on and on and on. It’s overwhelming. And it’s not just Mustafa, of course. It is everywhere. This is something I will never get used to, but anyway, I don’t have to. Here is Plaza Singapura – just one of the thousands of malls….makes you want to go running and screaming away from it all.

Mall Hell

Mall Hell

But despite the usual frustrations I always had with Singapore, there are the images and moments that delight – maybe just because they can be so amusing. This little truck rounded the corner as I was crossing the street a few days back. And you see these things and just crack up.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

And then if it weren’t for the craziness of variety offered here, I wouldn’t get to enjoy all the amazing variety that *is* here: straight from Japan come the delicious Takoyaki which I ate last weekend for lunch one day. They are little ball-shaped crepes in a way – filled with chunks of octopus. Squirted with mayo and sprinked with bonito flakes, these guys are the equivalent of french fries for me. (Reminder: gym every single day).

Octopus Balls (Takoyaki)

Octopus Balls (Takoyaki)

Sometimes the tourism here can be a bit overwhelming as well. But even in the most touristy places on the weekends, like in Chinatown here, the lights and the smells and the sounds can romance you into looking past the gaudiness and commercialism that can be Singapore and just enjoy.

Chinatown at dusk

Chinatown at dusk

Two weeks in, I *do* miss my German bread in the morning. But no worries. In Chinatown last night, I came across an Austrian man with a stall of his own set up there in between the satay and char kway teo stalls – selling sausages and breads! I bought a half a loaf of a nice dense rye bread.

So this morning I get to enjoy the best of both worlds: Chunks of fresh cold papaya squirted with these sour and intense Malaysian limes and slices of dark rye toast (spread with avocado). A cup of french-press coffee and I am good to go.

Best of Both Worlds

Best of Both Worlds

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Singapore

 

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