Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s swimmingly superb porridge episode!
Masterchef Singapore Judge Chef Damian D’Silva loves porridge. Specifically Teochew-style porridge – the plain, watery rice kind served steaming hot with a whole array of cooked dishes. Despite his solidly Eurasian-Peranakan roots, his heart & stomach begin and end with porridge. So much so that he says that would be his last meal because there’s just something so soul satisfying about it.
Whenever Chef Damian gets a craving for his favourite local dish, he heads to Jurong East for his Teochew porridge fix, where you’ll find him ordering at least two different types of fish. A self-proclaimed “kaypoh” (busy body) and also because the stall owner is familiar with him, Chef Damian helps himself to what he wants. He usually heads straight to the box, opens it and chooses the catch of the day that grabs his attention. Being a chef, it helps that he knows exactly which fish is in season and which fish eats best at any given time. For example, one of his favourite fishes is in season during Chinese New Year, around January/ February. Pek Tor, or Rabbit Fish is especially loved by Chef Damian because the male fish has “milk” and the female fish has roe.
Indeed, this place is renowned for their variety of species & preparation methods. Don’t let their name “Zai Shun Curry Fish Head” mislead you – besides the eponymous curry, their fish dishes are superb fried or steamed with a selection of different marinades and sauces. No wonder the place is always packed with hungry customers from breakfast through to lunch.
Besides at least 2 fish dishes, Chef Damian is partial to salted, preserved Teochew porridge staples like chye buey (salted vegetable stew – see above in red bowl) and giam her (salted fish).
Chai po nerng (preserved radish omelette) is another must-have dish, along with vegetables like lady’s fingers or bittergourd (which he adores and can eat everyday without ever tiring of it). One final accompaniment to his plain porridge has got to be hae bee hiam (spicy dried prawn) for a chewy, intensely umami kick.
So if you’re like Chef Damian and craving for a “soul-satisfying” bowl of Teochew porridge with “the works” (especially the freshest of fish prepared with great skill and maximum flavour), you’ve got to head on over to the wildly popular Zai Shun in Jurong East for a super-comforting treat. By the way, the eatery was officially given Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition in the 2017 Singapore Michelin Guide and besides porridge, you can have steamed rice along with their wide variety of Zi Char dishes.
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head 载顺咖喱鱼头
253 Jurong East Street 24, #01-205, S(600253)
Open Daily (except Wed): 7am – 2.30pm (open also on public holidays)
Tel: +65 85211584