A Plateful of Red and White

Posted by Mei Ying Teh on

Put up that flag, cheer for the parade online, and celebrate in the way that Singaporeans know best: through food.

 

 

The early months of 2020 have not been the best for many of us, and its effects will be with Singaporeans foreseeably until the end of the year. Adapting to this climate of caution for everyone’s safety, we have been asked to momentarily put aside some of the things we love: bonding in large groups; mingling and meeting up with new faces; that warmth of belonging that comes with blending in a happy crowd. For this year’s National Day, it will be one with this unusual attitude of restraint.

 

We cannot pour into the streets to marvel and be merry—not yet. And still, it would not be without celebration. If anything, it would be a day of hope and cheer, and that, apart though we all may be, we are doing this together for each other’s sake, and that solidarity is something to be proud of as a country. So, for National Day, we’ll wave our flags from our windows and channel the festive spirit in our own houses. And what better way than to do it than through the life-affirming act of eating.

 

Much has been said about our favourite past time, but it goes deeper than just the satisfaction from a gustatory delight. As this country is a melting pot, the dishes that are served and eaten are an acknowledgment of the multiple cultures that have somehow cohabited with each other. The union of tastes and ingredients exhibit how, despite the differences, their solidarity was the key to their common goal: survival. Decades of reciprocity and resilience gave us beloved hybrid foods like laksa, fish head curry, and chicken rice with a heaping side of sambal. The circumstances might not be the same these days, but food is there to remind us how cooperation and adaptability have contributed to what the country is today.

 

In keeping with that spirit, here are our ideas for five Red and White fusion dishes that are festive and refreshingly innovative. The variety in this meal recognises how Singaporean cuisine has embraced the different ethnicities that have settled or passed through the island, and has come out better because of it. Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences are represented and celebrated. Perhaps this culinary adaptation will be a reminder of our strength as a country—that from solidarity comes our resilience.

 

The recipes use healthy Borges food products so you won’t feel too bad about feasting. Prep the recipes in the morning and finish cooking before dinner. Best served with the fireworks on full screen, of course.

 

 

FRIED POPIAH[1]

Golden brown and delightfully textured, these fried rolls are the perfect two-bite appetizers.

 

Makes 20 pcs.

 

20 pcs, Popiah (spring roll) skin

2 Tbsp Borges Grapeseed Oil, and more for deep frying

2 Tbsp Garlic, minced

700g Jicama, shredded

100g Carrots, shredded

7-8 pcs Shiitake mushroom, diced

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Chicken bouillon powder

½ tsp Black Pepper, ground

2 tsp Corn starch, dissolved in 2 Tbsp of water

 

In a pre-heated pan, put 2 Tbsp. of grapeseed oil and add the minced garlic. Sauté until fragrant, then add the shredded vegetables, mushroom, and seasonings, tossing until softened. Gradually pour in the corn starch slurry, keep stirring until the mixture is fairly dry. Set aside to cool.

 

Prepare the popiah skins and a bit of corn starch slurry as a glue. Place 1 ½ Tbsp of the cooked filling in the middle of the wrapper, then fold the sides and the bottom. Use the slurry to wet the edges of the wrapper before rolling upwards, ensuring a good seal. After making the rolls, heat enough grapeseed oil in a pan / deep-fryer, then fry up the rolls until they are golden brown. Set the fried popiah on a cooling rack to drain the excess oil, then serve with sweet chilli sauce.

  

MANTOU WITH CHILI CRAB DIP[2]

We love chilli crabs with a heated passion, but sometimes, we just want to skip the shelling and go to the eating part immediately. And the steamy, fluffy mantou picks up all the sauce. The addition of oil and sherry vinegar gives this classic a slight Eurasian vibe.

 

Serves 6

 

1 Tbsp Borges Classic Olive Oil

5 pcs. Garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 Shallots, finely chopped

1 pc. Ginger root, 2 inches, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Chili sauce

2 Tbsp. Soy sauce

2 Tbsp. Borges Sherry Wine Vinegar

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Sugar

4 Tbsp. Tomato paste

1 C Water

1 Tbsp. Honey

1 tsp. Fish sauce

125 g. Crab meat (Fresh, frozen, or canned)

1 egg, beaten

Chives, for garnish

 

Heat up the olive oil and sauté the garlic, shallots, and ginger until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the crab meat, egg, and chives. Bring to a boil then lower the heat. After making sure the meat is free of any cartilage and bits of shell, mix in the crab meat then bring to a simmer. Drizzle the beaten egg, wait until the whites have slightly set then mix until thickened. Check for seasoning then sprinkle with chopped chives to finish. Serve hot with steaming white mantou.

 

  

 

CURRY DEBAL[3]

Spicy, sour, and complex, the Devil’s Curry is actually a historical Eurasian dish of Portuguese and Malaccan origins, showcasing the extent of global trade centuries past, wherein Singapore played a key role. Prepare one day ahead before serving for maximum flavour.

 

Serves 4

 

20 Dried chillies

15 Shallots, peeled

2 Garlic cloves, peeled

3 Candlenuts

3 Lemongrass stalks

20 g Galangal

1 in. Turmeric, peeled

100-125 ml Borges Extra Light Olive Oil

1 tsp. Yellow mustard seeds, coarsely ground

800 g Chicken thighs

500-650 ml Water

1 ½ Tbsp. Borges Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Sugar, or to taste

Salt, to taste

 

To prepare the spice paste, soak the chillies until softened, then chop coarsely. With a blender, blitz the chillies, shallots, garlic, candlenuts, lemongrass, galangal, and turmeric until a smooth paste forms, adding a little water to help with the blending. Set aside.

 

Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Toss in the spice paste until fragrant, stirring continuously to avoid burning. Add the mustard seeds for 15 seconds before adding the chicken. Stir lightly then brown for two minutes. Add water and vinegar. Bring this to a simmer then cover and let it stew on low heat until the chicken is fork tender, around 40 mins. Cool completely before storing. Reheat before serving with piping hot white rice.

 

RED AND WHITE BEE HOON SOUP[4]

This visually stunning seafood soup is good for those who prefer lighter fare.

 

Ingredients

1 kg. Mud Crabs, scrubbed

500 g. Thick Bee Hoon, blanched

4 Tbsp. Borges Extra Light Olive Oil

2 ½ in. Ginger root, sliced

4 C Fish stock

½ C Evaporated milk

Bok Choy, rinsed and chopped

2 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine

1 Tbsp. Fermented fish sauce

Salt and white pepper, to taste

 

To prepare the crab, scrub clean then separate the upper shell from the rest of the body and set aside. Chop up the other parts into halves.

 

To a heated pan, add the light olive oil and fry the ginger slices until fragrant. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Carefully add the crab and the evaporated milk, let simmer until the crab is fully cooked. Season with the wine and fish sauce; taste before adding more salt and white pepper. Add the blanched bee hoon. Crank the heat to high and turn it off once everything reaches a boil. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

HAZELNUT TEH TARIK[5]

A hot and sweet drink to end an evening full of delicious food. The addition of hazelnut flavoured milk is unorthodox for many a Teh Tarik fan, but the fragrant nuttiness levels up the drink into dessert territory.

 

30 g Ceylon black tea

500 ml Hot water

300 ml Borges Natura Hazelnut Drink

4 Tbsp. Condensed milk

 

Steep the tea in freshly boiled water for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the hazelnut drink until steaming then remove from heat. Strain the tea into a new container and mix in the hazelnut milk and the condensed milk. Mix until the condensed milk is thoroughly incorporated. Tip the mixture between the two containers until slightly foamy. Pour into individual cups for serving.

  

Photo credits:

Marina Bay, Singapore. Bao Menglong (https://unsplash.com/photos/1mpOYQI0fgM)

Spring Rolls. Jonathan Valencia (https://pixabay.com/photos/spring-rolls-crispy-fried-appetizer-2536526/)

Spicy Curry. Sharon Ang (https://pixabay.com/photos/spices-spicy-hot-chillies-chicken-608793/)

Mug and Biscuit. Daria Nepriakhina (https://unsplash.com/photos/gm3bxHin8VA)

 

 

[1] Adapted from https://eatwhattonight.com/2016/11/fried-spring-rolls/

[2] Adapted from foodrepublic.com/recipes/chili-crab-dip-recipe/

[3] Adapted from https://www.kuali.com/recipe/portuguese-debal-curry/

[4] Adapted from lifestinymiracles.com/2015/09/le-creuset-crab-mee-hoon/

[5] Adapted from https://www.kuali.com/recipe/teh-tarik/

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