Saturday, April 29, 2006

my american broiler

someone wanted to see pictures of an american broiler (I'm not sure what makes it american) but here is my humble broiler.

Friday, April 28, 2006

nasi lemak

more backlog posts, this one is obligatory of all singapore food blogs, nasi lemak or rice with coconut milk. i paired it with spicy deviled eggs, tomato salad and homemade beef rendang (next time i'm putting the spices into a bag or something they make the rendang too crunchy; but it looks ok i s'ppose). yes that is a real banana leaf.

chillo isleƱo: red snapper with island (ie puerto rico) sauce

got quite a backlog of posts to make, this one is from my wife. islander snapper. mmmmm. delicioso.

Review of mad about food: the cookbook by sylvia tan

Sometimes change is good. i just received my copy of singapore journalist Sylvia Tan's newest cookbook, arguably her first cookbook (more on this later), and my interest is certainly piqued.

For those of you unfamiliar with her works, Ms. Tan is a senior editor at the national English daily in Singapore, the Straits Times. For many years, she has written a column called Mad About Food, from whence she dispenses culinary tips to housewives across the island nation and diaspora (no I'm not one of these housewives, more on this later). In the mid nineties, various more interesting entries were collated into 3 cooking booklets appropriately titled Mad about Food, Madder about Food, and Maddest about Food. These cookbooks sold very well locally, because of her intimate, self-depracating, sympathico style and because the advice was generally sound and pragmatic, for example, roasting belachan fermented prawn paste is certainly much easier in a microwave oven than over an open fire. All was quiet for a few years, as Ms. Sylvia lived out the good life with her Hollywood actor husband Lim Kay Tong (as seen in the movie Anna and the King).

Then in 2004, Ms. Sylvia Tan ignited interest with her Singapore Heritage Foods, an opus of Singapore food history tracing the island nation's humble itinerant street vendor foods to the modern deconstructed asian cooking found in the high tech financial capitol city today. Readers the world over, praised her careful and thoughtful analysis of the evolution of food in Singapore, driven by changing tastes, availability and affluence of the populace. Some remark that the recipes were almost an afterthought, but traditional recipes from the chinese, malay, indian and european communities were duly collected and compiled by Ms. Tan.

This book published in 11/2005 in Singapore by Marshall Cavendish Cuisine (a subsdiary of the newspaper holding company Times International), is meant to stead Ms. Tan as a cookbook author in her own right. The kitchen tips are minimal (even though many of the recipes were reiterated from the Mad about Food series hence the title), the old-time stories are minimal, and there are NO traditional singapore recipes collected and recorded here, NOT one.

Well what does it have? It has 100% Sylvia Tan cuisine. A gutsy combination of asian ingredients and flavorings in western european preparations and presentation. The book itself is divided into categories cleverly targeting the demographics of her hip audience; they are family (read good parent), one-dish (read busy parent), quick (make that a really busy parent), low fat (health conscious parent) and occasion (ambitious parent). Under the categories are dishes like tom yam bouillabase, coconut bread pudding, spaghetti with chinese dried fish, fish satay, and rendang roast beef.

Each recipe comes with a paragraph of Sylvia's thoughts (eg, this is really the best way to prepare crab!), the ingredients, the methods, and a gorgeous accompanying photo of the finished dish. Once in a while, Ms Tan will suggest ready made sauces and even helpfully name brands that she finds are the better ones (a look through the book yields no sponsor information).

The recipes themselves look simple enough, often consisting of 5 steps or so. And they seem to make sense. Although I have yet to kitchen test any of them.

Do I like it? I honestly don't know. I'm not much of a fusion food fan, but then again, Sylvia Tan's cuisine may use entirely asian ingredients so maybe it isn't even fusion food. If you're looking for a introduction into Singapore cooking, look somewhere else, it is likely that no one else other than Sylvia tan (and her multitudes of fans of course) prepare anything even remotely like this.

Yet its impossible to dislike this book (am I saying this just because I've already paid?) no really this is one attractive book, even the photo of Sylvia is attractive. I am fortunate enough to be able to get authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice within a block of me, and I work in Brooklyn! So my taste buds are clearly ready for change from the traditional nonya this and hainanese that of Singapore cooking, and with the courage and fortitude of such unlikely and taboo combinations in the shape of Sylvia's unique concoctions perhaps change is good after all.

Now if I could just find the guts to actually try a recipe.

brave enough? take the Sylvia Tan challenge here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

eat fish, live longer

toasted artisan wholewheat, arugula greens, pan grilled tilapia, french mustard. in that order.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

home on the range

oh give me a home where the buffaloes roam ... and the ribeyes end up on my plate. seriously though i thought i'd post a pic from my cast iron adventures. grilled ribeye marinated with EVOO, kosher salt, black pepper, and chinese rice wine (hua tiao from shao xing province). mmmm perfection. the only thing was it was a large piece of meat and the pan juices made the other side less crisp, i think here is where elevated grills would have been helpful but i opted for flat bottom for better heat transfer and easy cleanup.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

cast iron, usa

here is my new lodge cast iron dutch oven and skillet set. damn they make me proud to be an american.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


been making these for many years, these are beef and chives filling with the recipe from

Monday, December 05, 2005

gina's singapore claypot chicken rice

gina from in all her infinite wisdom decided to share her heirloom recipes with pictures and forum and everything. followed her recipes as best as we could. turned out simply amazing, better than any i've tasted. recipe here

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