Beef Hor Fun

Beef hor fun is probably one of the hardest dishes to satisfy me with. The other day, when I was at Kovan, rude and indifferent staff at a few of the outlets at Heartland Mall sent me to Xin Wang, just next to the mall. The staff was very friendly, so I decided to order my favourite test dish, beef hor fun.

They were so nice that I didn’t even wait to taste the hor fun before I signed up for membership. I figured that if Hock Lam Beef Noodles have deteriorated so badly and the folks at Heartland Mall act like they can do without my business, this place would be my regular haunt.

OK, the hor fun was very well-done. Not too oily, not scattered all over. The egg was a little overcooked for this sort of hor fun. I expected something almost raw. Taste wise, the noodles were also great. The gravy was sweet and fragrant. However, the major disappointment came from the beef!

It’s tough and not even hot. It tasted like they have been pre-fried, refrigerated and then just used like a garnish over the noodles. Yao mo gao chor ah? Major failure. Makes me wonder if I should just put up with a bit of “humble pie” and go to the rude people.

Fisherman’s Stew

Got this recipe from a Farang friend residing in Thailand. Takes a lot of trouble to get the ingredients together, but it’s well worth it.

Seafood Hot Pot

This is a melting pot of classic fisherman’s stews: cioppino, bouillabaisse, gumbo, jambalaya, and paella — all opportunistic dishes born from the unpredictability of the day’s catch. My whole life I’ve fished in camp houses up and down the Gulf Coast, and every day our focus is to catch that night’s dinner. A dish like this works well no matter what fish you get — in the wild or at your seafood market. It’s a one-pot dish that works year-round.

The Base
• 6 tbsp unsalted butter
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 3/4 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick medaillons
Mix 1:
• 1/2 head celery, minced
• 1 medium onion, minced
• 1 small fennel bulb, diced
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 Thai (red) chiles, minced
Mix 2:
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp coarse salt
Mix 3:
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1/2 cup carrot juice
Mix 4:
• 14.5-oz can whole tomatoes drained of juices
• 4 cups clam juice
• 2 cups chicken stock
• large bunch thyme, tied with kitchen twine

In a large pot over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp butter until foamy. Stir in mixes 1 and 2, cooking until vegetables are translucent with slightly browned edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, add remaining 2 tbsp butter.

Lower heat and stir in tomato paste. Mix well and cook until paste begins to brown (not burn), about 5 minutes. Add mix 3 and stir to loosen browned bits stuck to bottom of pot. Simmer to reduce by half, about 6 minutes. Stir in mix 4, plus potatoes, and raise heat to bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat and cover.

The Seafood
• Coarse salt
• Cayenne pepper
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 8 clams in shells, scrubbed
• 8 mussels in shells, scrubbed and debearded
• 8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 8 large sea scallops
• 8 oz (skinless) snapper
• or other white fish
• 4 shallots, minced
• 1 cup dry vermouth

Season the seafood with salt and cayenne. In a jumbo pasta pot or dutch oven (wide cooking surface, high sides), warm the olive oil. Add clams and mussels, sautéing about 11/2 minutes.
Add shrimp, scallops, fish, and shallots, cooking until opaque on one side, about 1 minute. (Don’t flip.) Add vermouth, cover, and let the mixture steam until seafood is cooked through, 90 seconds or so.
Add hot base and bring to low boil, simmering 11/2 minutes. Remove thyme and discard. Serves 4.

Japanese Buffet

This has to be one of my favourite Japanese buffet places. It’s the Kiseki Japanese Restaurant located at the basement of the Heeren, Orchard Road (opposite Mandarin Gallery). There’s a huge sumo wrestler at the entrance. Luckily it’s not real. It’s self service, but plenty of good stuff here. I focus mainly on the seafood and sashimi, but the other stuff are very good as well.

I won’t be going for the weekday lunch which is only $19.80 per pax. Weekday dinner $29.80++ per pax. Worked out to be $30+ per person, but still pretty worthwhile.