Braised Fish

This is one of the family favourite and it’s amazingly easy to prepare, requiring little to now skill. First of all, you’ve got to heat up your Teflon-coated pot with some oil and fry a large sliced onion and garlic in it until they start to brown.

Put in the fish, fry it quickly on both sides, then add 2-3 cups of water, a dash of pepper, about 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce and a couple of cubes of sugar – for this amount of fish. Put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes. Add half a cup of Chinese cooking wine and simmer for another 5 minutes and you’re done.

Tomato Fried Egg

This is an amazingly simple but tasty dish. The secret is to fry the egg and tomato separately. First, you would want to heat up some oil and fry your beaten egg. I would normally use 3 eggs with 2 large tomatoes. Don’t use cherry tomatoes. Once you’ve got your omelette fried up, you can add in your sliced tomatoes and toss it around. You can also toss in some chopped spring onions or green chilli.

My real secret is in the seasoning. I add about 2 tablespoons of light soya sauce and tablespoon of ginger sugar or just plain sugar if you don’t have that. Once the tomatoes soften, you can turn off the heat and serve. It goes very well with rice or porridge.

Swallowing Up & Spitting Out

I don’t post much political stuff on this blog, but recent moves by the government aimed at helping our hawkers (albeit with a self-centred perspective) are really accelerating the demise of our hawker culture – an inevitable outcome in my opinion as long as our hawkers come under the purview of Big Brother and his philosophy of squeezing people down the line. The free enterprising spirit is dealt another blow by the takeover of Kopitiam by NTUC. The business has become even more centralised with little room left for our hawkers to maneuver. Never has it been more critical for us to pick up some culinary skills ourselves and stop our food heritage from dying with the hawkers.

But seriously, I doubt any attempt to take control out of Big Brother’s hands or encourage our young to go into F&B will yield positive results. The problem is actually multi-factorial and extremely challenging, especially if operating costs continue to rise and worst of all, people don’t mind having the kind of adulterated local dishes and “integrated” food courts (Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Mala hotpot etc) that we have now. Rescuing our food heritage through our young hawkers (some of whom sold their brands the moment they became famous) is to me, a lost cause. The great white shark’s jaws are right at your feet. There is no escape. Seetoh et al need to ask, do the people really mind? If at least 70% of them don’t, then we might as well channel our energies towards acquiring those skills ourselves.