Nourishing, palate-cleansing Teochew fish porridge

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After weeks of excessive eating, my stomach was protesting. I have to admit I was ready to throw in the fork, spoon and chopsticks. Imagine the relief to hear from my Makan Kaki, Chef Heman Tan of Moonbow at Dempsey, who suggested I reset my body with something pristine and nourishing. As a chef of Modern European cuisine, this stall in Bukit Timah Food Centre is his first stop when he’s in need of a respite from the rich foods he usually whips up in his restaurant. So in times of overindulgence, pay penance at Quan Xiang Fish Porridge with a bowl of their palate-cleansing Teochew-style signature.

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Under the stall’s name, a menu board with the words “lao zi hao” (老字号) printed in large Chinese characters greets you. Roughly translated to “renowned old brand or established enterprise”, both are true for Quan Xiang, a proudly Teochew family business that had its beginnings in 1966 as a roadside pushcart. Stall owner Mr Loh Chee Song told me that his father first began selling his signature fish porridge at the now-defunct Beauty World Market, until frequent fires encouraged the move to their current location in Bukit Timah Food Centre in 1976.

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The business, along with their closely-guarded family recipe, was passed down to Mr Loh in 1999 and for over two decades, he has been perfecting his father’s legacy. When it comes to traditional Teochew-style fish porridge, the emphasis is on retaining the fresh taste of fish, without any overt seasonings or extra ingredients to sully its purity. Unlike other types of Asian fish soup or porridge, no tofu, tomato, seaweed or lard is added. It needs to be very clean and unadulterated, so as to let the main ingredient shine. In Quan Xiang’s case, they use either batang (Spanish mackerel) or the less common wild red garoupa. The freshest they can find.

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Chef Damian D’Silva Loves Fish with this Teochew Porridge

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s swimmingly superb porridge episode!

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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.

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Kway Chap: Year of the Pig with a Little Duck Thrown In!

Greetings & Salutations, Greedies! Happy New Year and we’re back after a teensy hiatus, just in time to welcome a returning Foodie Friend who can always be counted on to bring us new & unusual makan recommendations. Since we last talked food with Chef Shen Tan, she has embarked on a wildly popular private home dining supper series, cheekily called OWNSELF MAKE CHEF, featuring quality ingredients and ingenious riffs on familiar, local dishes. What you get is South East Asian flavours you’ll recognise, but elevated and no less delicious – sop buntut with Wagyu beef or twice steamed Nasi Lemak with grilled King prawn and lard sambal, anyone? With 13 (and counting) specially curated themed menus, Chef Shen’s culinary creativity is on the up and up! She even offers cooking classes now (fully booked till March, but hey, book now and you can get a class in April!), so that you can eat and learn how to make her bold style of food.

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And of course when Chef Shen isn’t busy cooking up a storm for her guests, she’s out and about discovering new makan obsessions to share with us, one of which is a Teochew braised duck that she absolutely adores. Melvin is a second generation hawker who is carrying on his father’s legacy with this stall at Chinatown Complex. His mother still helps him and business is brisk because they serve really delicious food!

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Late Night Porridge Supper

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Click here to listen/ download podcast of this week’s tasty Teochewness!

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Hey Makan Kakis, if you’re in search of a soul-satisfying bowl of late-night goodness, our foodie friend, Chef-Owner of Le Binchotan, Jeremmy Chiam has just the place to recommend! Like most chefs, he finds himself hungry and looking for a supper joint after he’s done with a long, hard day of service at his restaurant. By the time he gets to eat, it’s usually past 1am. Enter this Old Havelock Road institution, whose food reminds Chef Jeremmy of his Grandma’s home-cooking. If it’s a steaming bowl of Teochew porridge with hearty side dishes that you’re craving, remember Lim Joo Hin!

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Teochew Heritage Food

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Greetings, Greedies! Our Makan Kaki Chef Daniel Tay really does adore his Teochew Cuisine and this week, he returns with another one of his favourite restaurants in the East of Singapore. It’s a heritage family restaurant with over 40 years of history, so rest assured that you’ll get high quality, authentic, tasty Teochew dishes here at Chin Lee.

Chef Daniel’s must-try recommendation is the classic Steamed Pomfret, with shitake mushroom, tofu, sour plum and ginger in a clear, fragrant broth.

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VIDEO: FISHBALL/ HERH KEOW MEE

File_000 (1)You heard it first on radio, now catch Gold 905’s popular good food guide on video! We’ve upsized your Makan Kakis experience with this new series featuring themed episodes in which Denise from the Lunchtime Jukebox gives you two choices for a specific local favourite. In this first episode, she takes you from Little India to Newton and offers up two delicious options for Teochew Fish Ball/ Her Keow (fish dumpling) Noodles in Singapore, as recommended by her Makan Kakis Chef Anthony Yeoh & KF Seetoh

CLICK to watch the full video!

You can also read more about these two stalls:
Try THIS: Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee
Or THAT: Soon Wah Fish Ball Noodle

TeoCHEW on this!

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This week sees the return of our beloved cookbook author, restaurateur & Makan Kaki, Violet Oon, who’s been keeping very busy with the launch of her third and latest restaurant, Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay. Lucky for us, she’s taken some time off her very full plate to share with us a few more of her current favourites to dine at in Singapore, so let’s start with this famous, classic Teochew institution that has seen many location changes, but thankfully the quality of food has remained largely unchanged! Violet has been eating at Huat Kee since the 1980s, but this authentic Teochew Restaurant has been around since the late 1960s, first operating out of Wayang Street, before moving to the old Ellenborough Market (present day Swisshotel Merchant Court), then Happy World in Katong, followed by a longish stint along Amoy Street, before finally settling at the RELC Building along Orange Grove Road. But what about the food? Here’s what Violet really enjoyed at her last visit:

The suckling pig is excellent with a shatteringly crisp, fragrant skin.

Also try their Teochew Fried Kway Teow with kailan, which has a tremendous “wok hei” and lovely depth of flavour because theu use two types of chye por (preserevd radish) – the sweet and salty kind.

If it’s crispy, typically Teochew snacks you crave, they have it all – Hae Cho (Prawn Rolls) and the Liver Rolls too.

Another stand-out dish which Violet raves about is their Seared Sea Cucumber, which is first braised for hours in a rich pork broth, before it is seared in a hot pan for an extra smoky flavour. Now in itself, sea cucmber is tasteless and is usually eaten for its texture, but in this dish, you get the best of both worlds – delicious flavour from the arduous cooking process and amazing crunchy texture from the spongy, collagen-y meat!

To round off your feast at Huat Kee, you simply can’t go wrong with the classic Orh Nee (steamed, mashed yam cooked in oil, with hand-peeled ginko nuts).

If you prefer, the labour-intensive traditional Tau Suan is also good, as is the Teochew-style Cheng Tng, a cooling, nutritious brew of longan, white fungus and other herbs. Best thing about it is the hint of persimmon perfuming this dessert!

Violet loves Huat Kee for several reasons. Firstly, it continues to serve up wonderful Teochew cuisine after all these years in the business. Secondly, it’s a family business that has been passed on from generation to generation and continues to do well with the passing on of traditional recipes. Also, they’ve gone into food production, sourcing good quality, all-natural seafood like abalone and sea cucumber from countries like New Zealand, before distrubuting far and wide to places like China.The abalone, in particular, is unbleached, which means you get a natural, less processed product, free from bleach and other nasty chemicals. That’s why their abalone has a greyer hue. As for the sea cucumber, they semi-dry it for good texture and it is available to buy and take-home for your own future cooking endeavours. But why take home when you can let them cook it for you? And finally, location location location! It’s current RELC venue is big enough to seat 200 diners comfortably and there is ample parking.

So there you have it, the many reasons why Huat Kee remains Violet’s Teochew favourite – if you want quality produce cooked the proper way, maintaining the original taste and traditions, look no furthur than this family-run restaurant!

TASTE:
Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee
30 Orange Grove Road
#02-01 RELC Building
Singapore 258352
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm; 6 – 10pm
Tel : 6423 4747

Teochew-style Fish Porridge

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Click HERE to listen to this week’s tasty Teochew episode!

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This week, our ever-reliable, down-to-earth Makan Kaki Chef Daniel Tay waxes lyrical about his Teochew roots (his mother is) and recommends one of his favourite restaurants for tasty Teochew delicacies. This is a restaurant that has been recommended before, but has since moved from its original location at Beach Road to larger premises at Phillips Street.

Chao Shan Cuisine is a classic restaurant that has been serving up yummy Teochew classics for years and Chef Daniel has gotten to know its boss, Ah Liang, well enough to ask for fresh recommendations each time he visits for a meal. Certainly, from Pomfret to Threadfin, Ah Liang is the man to tell you which fish of the day is the freshest. Business is brisk at Chao Shan, which sees customers returning for Chef Daniel’s favourites like steamed fish,  Jellied Pork Trotters and crispy-fluffy oyster omelette.

48919cb0b079923b270775fbfb671a45But of all the dishes you can find at Chao Shan, this is, hands down, Chef Daniel’s ultimate comfort food: fresh fish slice porridge. There’s just something so wholesome, virtuous, pure, simple and yes, comforting about the watery rice delicacy. Chef Daniel swears by the basic ingredients – fresh fish slices, rice, stock, salt, ginger, coriander and spring onions – that come together in one steaming bowl of heart-warming simplicity. Don’t go to Chao Shan without trying this dish!

TASTE:
CHAO SHAN CUISINE 潮山林
17 Phillip Street
#01-01
Grand Building
Singapore 048695
Open Daily: 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10PM
Tel: 63362390

For more pictures, descriptions and our other Makan Kaki Willin Low‘s review of Chao Shan from 2 years ago when it was still located at Beach Road, click here!