Eating Out Life Style
Eating out has become so much part of the life style of many people in both Singapore and Malaysia. Food lovers in both countries often travel the extra mile to seek out the best places for the food recommended by friends and the media. The number of TV food channels is testament to the rising interest in food in the international arena. More often than before, restaurant chains are bringing new cuisines from faraway places to Singapore.
For example, you need only go as far as the Old Turf Club Road in Bukit Timah to sample Cajun cuisine. Otherwise, you will need to fly to Louisiana for the same fare.
From Hawkers To Michelin-Starred Celebrity Chefs
Eating out in Singapore ranges from the hawker fares in food courts, both the traditional and the air-conditioned ones in the shopping malls, to the Michelin-starred establishments.
Higher disposable family incomes bring about more sophisticated eating lifestyles and overseas travel for food. Eating has become part of the Singapore culture. The existence of the two “gaming” resorts is responsible for the arrival of celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs.
Local Hawker Foods Go Upmarket
Local hawker fares have gone up-market too. Many young people, although armed with a degree, have broken new ground and ventured out into the F&B business – from cafes to up-market establishments. The third and fourth generations of hawkers are riding the trend too. For examples, you can find economical rickshaw noodles at hawker centres to the pricey $18-version at Clifford Pier; or the humble mee sua to the pricey version ‘birthday richman mee sua’ at $38 a serving – well the latter version comes with a half cheese-covered lobster.
My Apprenticeship In Cooking
The saying goes “Necessity Is The Mother Of Inventions”. I started helping my Mom to cook way back when I was a 10-year old. Why? It was due to labour shortage at the home front and there was no foreign talent to employ! Learning to cook was more like an apprenticeship scheme. I had to demonstrate that I could cook rice properly before I was allowed to try frying omelettes, stir-fry simple vegetable dishes to the big things. These big things include making kaya, fry and steam fish and seafoods and Teochew braised ducks.
How did cooking skills benefit me?
Well, I do not enjoy the long queues at popular hawker stalls (20 minutes are my acceptable cut-off times) and neither do I like to book restaurants way in advance (when the time comes, my food urge might change to something else). Well, I do make exceptions except for those overly-patronised hawkers whose rudeness is too much to stomach, pun intended!
Singapore’s renowned chilli crab dish moved a notch higher after it was listed at number 35 on the World’s 50 most delicious foods. The list was compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Hence the perennial crowds for seafood joints serving chilli crabs and other sea foods. I find it unpalatable to order crabs. Why? The establishments nearly always over-state the weight of their crabs – for example you’ll be charged for a 600 gm crab at 800 gm, and a 800 gm crab becomes a kilo.
Yes, go to the wet market and check out crab sizes and their corresponding weights – well I assume you have found your friendly and helpful crab vendor! The following photo may be used as a beginner’s lesson. Check this out below…
1. Crab Sizes, Freshness & Taste. Most of the mud crabs available in Singapore are imported from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and even from Mozambique. I usually like crabs weighing in the region of 800 gms. Heavier crabs in the region of over a kg each are more expensive and the shells are thicker and thus harder to crack. There are some friends who prefer the smaller ones of around 400 – 500 gms. These are the sizes commonly available from the NTUC supermarkets.
2. Cooking Methods – I like Them Steamed
3. Dinner Of Steamed Crabs, Steamed Fish & My Fruit Drink Concoction**
Mum’s Going To London – Who’s Looking After Us
Carolyn always make this tongue-in-cheek remark! Who’s looking after us? You are working I said, and we can have the choice of eating out – salads can suffice, Maxwell Road hawker foods are fine, Japanese ‘omakase’ would be nice. On Sunday evenings, we don’t have to sweat it out with the crowds. Dad has cooking as a life skill, and we won’t have to starve in Singapore 🙂
NB: My fruit drink concoction**. For each glass: Squeeze 2 small Sunkist oranges; Cut and loosen pulp from 1 passion fruit; mix them up and add soda water (Seven-Up or Sprite if you prefer a sweeter version.) Chilled but no ice cubes!
Dedicating this post to all who enjoys cooking, foodie friends and chefs of all genre 🙂