Singapore

Phil's Asian Feasts

Singapore

Day 1: Part 2

We finish finally at 12:45 but full of lunch already we waddle off to film some street food and market locations. Its getting very hot and humid now, I’m really sweating. After an hour we are back at Raffles to film making the famous Singapore Sling in the Long Bar. Its such a relief to be in air conditioning and my clothes dry quickly.
The room is very dark and its huge with rows odd moving fake fans in the ceiling keeping the chilled air circulating. Vicky arrives and we run through making the cocktail. He’s very quick and makes it look easy, we film it a couple of times. The tradition here is to eat monkey nuts (nuts in the long shells we had a kids) then throw the shells on the floor. I feel a little awkward as the place is spotless, but Annie assures me its okay. Next we film me making a cocktail, its quite good fun here is the recipe:-

Singapore

30ml Gin
15ml Cherry liqueur
120ml Pineapple juice
15ml Cointreau
15ml Lime juice
7.5ml Benedictine
10ml Grenadine syrup
dash Bitters
Garnish with slice pineapple and cherry plenty of ice

We film a couple of times, even the spent peanut shells landing on the camera lens. After tea we have a quick cup of tea and Annie gives us some pineapple cake form one of the Raffles shops in the arcade. Its dense, moist and really very nice.
We film a piece to camera outside the Long Bar and a couple of Australian'  s recognize me. I didn’t realise they had This Morning in Australia!!

From Raffles we set off again to meet and film with KF Seeto the main man when it comes to street food or Hawker food as its known here in Singapore. He has set up an organized area where seriously good Hawker food can be purchased and eaten right by the harbourside. It’s a very distinct type of cooking and food. Its flavours are heavily influenced by the population that Singapore has attracted over the centuries. It's quite difficult to describe as I have not really seen anything like it before. I suppose it’s a heavy mix of Malay, and Chinese with a dash of India and even Japan. Yes it sounds very complex and I suppose it is, but on the other hand it’s a very simple and straightforward. Seeto tells me that the Singapore’s national hawker dish is a simple partnership of poached chicken, Jasmine rice cooked in the poaching liquor and sliced served with cucumber, a little fresh coriander and a spicy dipping/sambal sauce. We try and he’s correct, it's so simple it's delicious. we even have to salute it ha ha. We also try a fermented pork and soya fritter, that tastes of blue cheese, but is delicious. Quickly followed by stuffed spring rolls and fried baby squid in a sweet and sour sauce. Fish and shellfish are big also on the menu, live bluey green crabs are for Singapore crab. We sip fresh sugarcane juice and a sweet dish of thick sweetened coconut custard that resembles condensed milk.

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He is clearly very passionate about the street food scene and has his own TV show here, he’s a big star. Many people stop and want photos of him; I even become the cameraman haha.
He’s also irritated about the rise of celebrity chefs and pulls no punches in ripping them apart. He explains that Singapore is a very different place to try and set up a food business and reels off a few who have failed and predicts a few more who will go under soon. There are a couple of chefs he admires. Eldwin who we cooked with earlier he is very respectful of plus Anthony Bourdain of USA Kitchen Confidential fame who is a guest speaker at his street food conference later in the year.
We end up at the end stall where the owner is going to let us film his version of Singapore crab. He starts by killing and cleaning the fresh crab. Next he places a large wok on the stove and its thunders into life, the power and heat it produces makes you stand back

He cleans really well with a bamboo brush and adds clean water. Within seconds its at a raging boil. The crab is dumped straight in he then cooks it to the halfway point then lifts out and discards the water. Back on the heat in seconds he’s adding a rich masala tomato sauce, that has a little starch added. Next a little extra sambal, then some other bit and pieces, I miss them as he’s so quick. The crab is back in and he’s swirling and coating the crab all the time. Finally the egg, for 1-2 seconds and its out on the plate, the egg still slightly undercooked but thickened the sauce nicely with the starch.

We taste again its delicious, slightly sweeter than Eldwin’s version but still with a fabulous colour and richness. I love it, I also make lots of notes as I’m going to cook my own version tomorrow, right on the quay. We all taste a few more dishes and wash down with Chinese tea. Seeto and I chat for another 20 minutes then he is off. I really warmed to him, he was funny, engaging and really knew his stuff, and I can completely see why the telly people love him. But underneath his jokey local cult status he really believes passionately in keeping Singapore food true to itself. Woe betide any chefs who think that Singapore is an easy touch, this man knows exactly what he’s talking about.

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The sun is beating down and the place is starting to fill up, by 7 it will be standing room only. We climb back into the bus now completely stuffed.
Once back at Raffles, Nigel and I take a leisurely swim, couple of drinks and bed. Will is propositioned outside the hotel by a prostitute and politely declines. She then swears at him, charming.

 

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