Super-Fresh Fish Head Curry

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Makan Kakis, Chef Shen Tan is back with another surprising and delicious recommendation this week! Chicken Rice is arguably one of the most tasty and popular local dishes and while Chef Shen loves chicken rice too, when she visits Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Restaurant, it’s not usually for their chicken rice! While theirs is very good, the dish that has captured Chef Shen’s heart is the FISH HEAD CURRY! Continue reading “Super-Fresh Fish Head Curry”

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FISH HEADS & FORBIDDEN CITIES

This week, we continue with celebrations of Singapore’s birthday month, so we’re featuring both a Uniquely Singaporean stage icon AND dish, brought to you by the one and only Broadway Beng, actor Sebastian Tan, who’s currently performing in SRT’s epic musical, Forbidden City – Portrait of an Empress. Sebastian has been Makan Kakis with Denise for a very long time, sharing their love for both theatre and food. The two really go hand and hand – rehearsals and performing on stage are such communal activities and what do you do to bond with fellow actors? You eat together! From hotpot to Hamburgers, Steaks to Soto Ayam, these Makan Kakis have eaten their way through a lot of Singapore, but surprise-surprise! Seb has been holding out on his favourite Fish Head Curry Restaurant – in his neck of the woods, no less! A Sembawang-Yishun native through and through, he maintains there’s a lot of delicious food to discover in the North. And coming from a family of food-lovers and restaurateurs (his brother runs the first Chinese Restaurant ever to open in Stoke-on-Trent in England, The Arch and a second brother also opened its sister restaurant here in Singapore for 2 years) who know their Fish Head Curry, it just might be worth following Sebastian way up North for a taste of his go-to comfort food.

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So as mentioned, when Sebastian is in need of comfort food, he goes straight for his beloved fish head curry. To him, it’s a complete, full dish – spicy, lemak, yet “healthy” (fish is healthy right? :D) and packed full of vegetables like brinjal & lady’s fingers. There’s just something very hearty and heart-warming about a curry, spiced up with just the right amount of chillies. Slathered over a steaming plate of rice, you’ve got all you need in a meal. Not far from where he lives is a place that specializes in the Chinese-style fish head curry Sebastian is describing.

Located just off Sembawang Road, Chye Lye (which means come again!) has been serving tasty fish head curry and zichar since 1970 and what Seb loves about their fish head curry is how well-balanced it is. The gravy has just the right amount of spice and coconut milk for that luscious lemak richness. Also, you’ll always get a fresh fish head that’s of a good, meaty size. Perhaps what makes it more Chinese-influenced is the addition of tau pok (deep-fried beancurd puffs), which adds another layer of texture and more surface area with which to soak up the yummy curry gravy!

At just $30 for a medium-sized fish-head that feeds 4, you also get pretty good value-for-money. Ultimately, what makes this a uniquely Singaporean dish is how it actually carries Chinese, Malay and Indian influences -everything Singapore eating is about! In fact, it’s been said that Fish Head Curry was invented in Singapore, so hooray for our delicious invention. If you want a sedap pot of fish head curry that’s truly Singaporean, you’ve got to head north to Chye Lye Curry Fish Head Restaurant – one of the best in Yishun and some say Singapore and JB!

TASTE:
CHYE LYE CURRY FISH HEAD RESTURANT
1 Jalan Legundi Singapore 759263
Open Tues – Sun: 11am – 2.30pm, 5 – 9.30pm (closed Mondays)
Tel: 6257 1396

Balestier’s Best #5: Heavenly Har Cheong Gai & Fish Head Bee Hoon

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881-xo-1Here’s the final installment in our Makan Kaki Shermay Lee‘s guide to the best eats in Balestier and she’s saved the best for last, with a no-frills zi char place that boasts some of the best Har Cheong Gai (Prawn Paste Fried Chicken) she’s tasted. Located in a corner shophouse next to Balestier Plaza along Balestier Road, 881 (XO) Fish Head Bee Hoon is a standalone restaurant that does both its signature Fish Head Bee Hoon & Crab Bee Hoon (dry & soup versions) really well. Shermay recommends you go with friends so you can order more dishes. But yes, the Fish Head Bee Hoon is a must.

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Next, definitely go for the above-mentioned Har Cheong Gai, which really is phenomenal when eaten freshly-fried and piping-hot at the table! Their style is to serve only the winglets, but that’s nothing to scoff at, especially since they are the perfect combination: tender and moist on the inside, once you crunch through the crispy, golden-fried outside. A squeeze of lime and a dip of chilli really enhances the distinctive, savoury, prawn paste flavour of these well-seasoned wings – super-yummy!881-xo-2

Another favourite of Shermay’s is the Cereal Prawns – big, juicy and fried so crispy you can eat them whole – shells, heads, tails and all! The milky-salty-sweet crispy cereal coating is extra fragrant with curry leaves and can be eaten like a snack on its own!881-xo-3

Finally, you’ve got to order the deep-fried fish skins. Salted egg yolk seems to be the trend on everything these days, but 881 Have been doing this for ages – it’s not a trend, it’s undeniably tasty! These crispy fish skins come to the table hot off the wok, having been stir-fried in a rich salted egg yolk and crispy egg white sauce, perfumed with red chillies and more curry leaves. You won’t be able to stop at one. In fact, you’ll probably want a whole portion to yourself!881-xo-4

As Shermay highly recommends, eat in a group for more tasty variety! These dishes, all small portions, fed 4 people for only $49.70. Delicious food, value-for-money, what’s not to love?

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TASTE:
HONG KONG STREET CHUN TAT KEE 881 (XO) FAMOUS SEAFOOD (FISH HEAD BEE HOON & CRAB BEE HOON)
412 Balestier Road
Singapore 329805
Open Daily: 11am – 11pm
Tel: +65 62545768

No Other Cze Char Stall Will Do

 

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Take a listen to this week’s sizzling hot cze char episode!

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This week, Chef Daniel Tay takes us to his favourite Cze Char stall in all of Singapore. Quite the Geylang institution, this greasy back alley joint evokes a bygone era of dining in Singapore. Tables are set up higgledy piggledy along a narrow alley and you eat alongside the drain and the stray cats. It’s not the cleanest of places and there’s quite a lot of (ahem) night time action – it is Geylang, after all – but the food is worth the colourful experience! Ask any foodie and they will tell you JB Ah Meng is famous for at least 2 dishes – White Pepper Crab & San Lou fried bee hoon. These 2 signatures are certainly on Chef Daniel’s must-try list, along with a few others and I have to agree and add to that list, with my own recommendations, having eaten there a few times myself!

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First up, White Pepper Crab is defintely one of JB Ah Meng’s signatures and you cannot visit without trying it. Some say it’s even tastier than black pepper crab because there is sweet-spicy kick and a tremendous wok hei that can only come from a skilled cze char master! The crabs may be on the smaller side (we’re not talking Sri Lankan monsters here), but they sure are delicious attacked barehanded and with gusto!

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Chef Daniel’s next recommendation are the clams, simply tossed in the wok with garlic, chives and chinese wine. It would seem the sweet, briny clams were made to just soak up all the delicious seasonings & sauce, which is also superb drizzled all over your white rice. Be sure to leave some white rice real estate though, for the next must-try dish.

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Chef Daniel swears by this Chinese-style Curry Fish Head. I completely agree. The meaty fish head is smothered in a rich, thick, coconutty gravy that is just so tasty! The more of it you eat, the more you’ll want, until you find yourself drinking the curry like it’s soup. It’s permeated with earthy, spicy warmth and it complements the mountain of fresh vegetables like lady’s fingers, brinjal, long beans and red chillis perfectly.

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San Lou Mifen otherwise known as chao tah bee hoon, is a beautifully fried rice vermicelli dish that’s pillowy soft on the inside, crispy-charred on the outside and packed with flavours & fragrance from the wok. It’s studded with tiny shrimp, minced meat, egg and that indulgent essential, lots of crispy lard! Look how much they gave us! OMG, Is all we can say! Each bite of the noodles, coupled with a little scoop of lard, is heart attack heaven!

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All that lard may be a bit much for the health-conscious, so how about a simple, yet satisfying soup of egg, mushroom, seaweed, cucumbers and tomato? This is very reminiscent of mum’s home cooking and has that certain comfort food factor.

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As a meal starter, you can’t go wrong crunching through a dish of the deep-fried fish skins, which come with a side of sweet and sour pickle sauce, although I’d rather do without the sauce. The fish skin is good enough on its own.

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Stir-fried snake beans with lotus root – gorgeous contrast in textures, with the spicy creamy-crunchy beans and the crispy lotus root chips playing off each other in the most delightful way.

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One final recommendation is the Deep Fried Fermented Bean with Belly Pork, with a deeply umami taste that penetrates the fatty cut of meat that is both tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

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So Makan Kakis, if you haven’t already discovered the fire-breathed, wok-hei imbued flavours of JB Ah Meng, get there this weekend for some gut-busting, party-in-your-mouth action!

TASTE:
JB AH MENG
New Good Place Eating House
2 Lorong 23 Geylang S(388353)
Tel: +65 67412418
Open Daily: 5pm – 3am

Where Sommeliers Eat: Gerri Sottile of Mykonos on the Bay

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This week, Sommelier & General Manager of Mykonos on the Bay, Gerri Sottile, shares some of his favourite places to eat in Singapore…

via https://www.facebook.com/bluelotusrestaurant/

Blue Lotus – Chinese Eating House
31 Ocean Way (Sentosa)
This neighbouring restaurant has been making a splash at Quayside Isle on Sentosa and Gerri is not the only one raving about their signature Chilli Crab. Now, he understands Chilli Crab can be a point of contention for lovers of this beloved local dish, and while he can’t cook it, he has sampled many chilli crabs at many different restaurants and The Blue Lotus’ gets his seal of approval because it is unique. This Chilli Crab is a fresh take on a classic with a slightly different taste from what you would expect, probably because the recipe has been tweaked and modern fusion elements added for a really delicious, satisfying dish that isn’t blow-your-head-off-spicy!
#01-13 Quayside Isle
Reservations: 6339 0880

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Fish head Curry

The Banana Leaf Apolo
This classic restaurant has been around for years and Gerri adores it for its traditional serving on Banana leaf, something he had never seen before in Europe, and also the wide variety of both Northern & Southern Indian dishes. He especially l;oves the different curries and Tandoori chicken.
54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564
Email : enquiry@thebananaleafapolo.com
Phone Number : +65 6293 8682

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Shinji by Kanaseka
This is possibly one of the most renowned names for Japanese cuisine in Singapore and Gerri frequents either branch for super fresh fish, excellent cuts and expertly handled. He recommends sitting at the bar and giving the chef the go ahead to take care of you. You won’t be disappointed!
Raffles Hotel
Reservations: +65 6338 6131
St Regis Hotel
T: +65 6884 8239

Curry Classic

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Click here for this week’s spicy episode!

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With the History of Singapore Part 1 on till the end of the week, our Makan Kaki has been staying away from all the spicy foods she loves to protect her voice, but oh boy, when the stage show is wrapped, Selena Tan is definitely headed for a curry in a hurry! And when it comes to curries, this Dim Sum Dolly insists on legendary local institution Samy’s. She has been eating there with her family – Mum, dad, brothers & sisters – since she was 7 and till this day, they still go there for all things delicious and spicy!

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Why? Well, in Selena’s words, there’s nothing like Samy’s Masala Chicken – she craves it, she eats it there, she takes it away and she even orders in bulk for parties – it’s that good! The secret is in the complex flavours and spices used – there are many layers to the taste and as you eat the chicken with lots of masala gravy, you get a real party of flavours in your mouth before the spice hits you. Another must-have is the addictive fish head curry with it’s thick, luscious gravy that you’ve got to scoop up with lots of crispy pappadum. The added lady’s fingers and brinjal just take this signature dish over the top for our vegetable-loving Makan Kaki! Speaking of veggies, do get the whole set meal on a banana leaf (as seen above) for longbeans, cabbage, daal, rice (or naan if you prefer) and all the different curries like Selena’s beloved Masala Chicken!

TASTE:
SAMY’S CURRY RESTAURANT
25 Dempsey Road
Tel: 6472 2080
Open:
11am – 3pm (Lunch)
6pm – 10pm (Dinner)
CLOSED every Tuesday

This Head is Steaming!

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Feeling overstuffed? Been indulging too much lately? Then how about something really lovely, light yet intensely comforting? How about some steamed fish head?

If you’re squeamish, hang on a minute – the portion served at this week’s recommendation includes much more than the head, there’s a little bit of meaty torso involved here – this is one steamed carp you’ve got to try….

But first, a word on fish heads – this is where all that delicious fishy flavour resides! And as for steaming, ask any skilled Chinese chef and he will tell you that the most difficult, challenging aspect of working in a Chinese restaurant kitchen is mastering the steaming division. Which is what makes this steamed carp so special – it is done with great care and skill.

Seetoh has been going to this zichar place since he was a child – the Mother is still there, the Father is semi-retired, but has passed on his culinary skills and techniques on to his children. One son focuses purely on steaming and his super-fresh steamed carp head is always steamed to perfection – lots of textures, ranging from soft, smooth and meaty,  to oozy, gooey and melt-in-your-mouth.

And then there’s the sauce – a lip-smacking combination of soya sauce, oil, tau cheo, sour plum, scallions, chillies and for extra umaminess, salted fish! Drizzled all over the fish, garnished with a decadent sprinkling of crispy, deep-fried lard “croutons” and accompanied with a steaming-hot bowl of fluffy white rice, this steamy dish is so comforting, so simple, so delicious, so DIE-DIE-MUST-TRY!

Sik Wai Sin Eating House

287 Geylang Road

Open daily for Lunch & Dinner: 12pm-2.30pm, 5.45pm-9pm

Tel: 67440129

LISTEN AGAIN TO THIS WEEK’S EPISODE!