beginning to feel there is no way to photograph this flatteringly

fried bee hoon served with chicken curry (possibly the worst photograph ever taken of a meal)

Did you know that vermicelli is an Italian word that means ‘little worms’?  Thank goodness for us, we always call this noodle Bee Hoon instead.

In Singapore, and probably Malaysia too, we call this thin white noodle bee hoon or sometimes mee hoon, depending on who you’re talking to.  It’s bought dried in clear plastic packaging at any supermarket, the most popular brand seemingly being Chilli Brand with two red chillies pictured on its front.  Before you cook with it, you have to soak it in either hot or cold water.  Cold water takes longer, my mother has said, even an hour, but she says it will never be over soaked or soggy.  Noodles need to be springy!  Soggy noodles are not on.  Hot water is faster, 10 mins at the most, and anything more you’d end up with noodles that break too easily when you fry it later.  You get ricey looking noodles (although I know some families who do fry their bee hoon deliberately chopping it up as they go so that it resembles rice).

Fried bee hoon has so many permutations, it’s hard to pinpoint any recipe as being The One. Read More →

Cottage pieThe first time I ever ate cottage pie was in my teens, when my sister was living in her University dorm.  She’d make cottage pie often, inspired by her cooking-with-a-microwave cookbook.  Thinking back now, I can’t fathom why she couldn’t have just bought regular mince, but instead chose to use burger meat.  I didn’t complain then, I thought it was the bees knees.  But now, ramly burger meat for cottage pie..?  I remember vividly the use of a cast iron wok, and lots of stabbing with a heavy metal spatula to break up the burgers into ‘mince’, as it thawed and cooked from frozen.  And then throwing in lots of frozen mixed vegetables.  The topping would be mashed potato with cheese to cheat getting the potato to brown.

For years after, cottage pie , and shepherd’s pie sunk into the recesses of my memory.  Until. Read More →

I thought it most appropriate to start off with something that I consider covers the basics of Malay cooking technique, something I learned from my Mom, chicken curry, and something that started off the repetition of the mantra, onion garlic ginger.  And yes, chicken curry really is easy.

In Singapore, it seems everyone has their own version of chicken curry.  I’ve tasted it cooked by a Chinese, an Indian and of course the Melayu.  All taste the same but different.  Anybody would eat it with plain white rice, or bread (traditionally, the kind you get at HDB estates where they call it ‘french loaf’ though flavour and texture wise, it doesn’t resemble a baguette very much).  The Chinese, I’ve very recently discovered, apart from eating it with rice or bread, came up with the idea of eating it with fried rice vermicelli or, as we know it, fried bee hoon which would include all of its own ingredients like vegetables, soy sauce or oyster sauce.  I did think it a strange combination at first, but somehow, it works.  I personally prefer it with white rice, or better still with roti prata.  My mother’s version is very savoury, with only a little sugar to round out the flavour but not sweeten it.  And oily.  And salty.  And spicy.  Very Malay. Read More →