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Archive for May, 2007

Roast Chicken

Interesting – I’ve never come across any instructions on roasting chicken that involve covering the chicken in a cloth soaked in oil. Also, most standard directions for testing doneness simply tell you to check if the juices run clear, rather than what is stated below.

Roast Chicken

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The use of cheese makes this an interesting recipe for the 1950s; even today, many Asians are lactose-intolerant. Even more interesting are the variations: one using cornflakes – a modern, processed, consumer food product, and the other using curry powder. I wonder if the curry style version was a Singapore invention? Then again, curry was already something familiar to the British via the colonial experience [See Collingham, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors]. The question is: was the original recipe British or American? In the Singapore YWCA of the 1930s, there were prominent and active members who were American, such as Mrs Armstuz, from whom my grandmother learnt to enjoy dishes such as waffles with sausages :).

Fried Chicken Superb

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Oven-easy Chicken

Oven-cooking was probably something my grandmother first learn in YWCA cooking classes in the 1930s. Chinese, Peranakan and Malay cooking didn’t (and still doesn’t) make use of the technology of the oven. Perhaps because of this early influence on grandmother’s cooking, which even pre-dates the nonya dishes learnt from her mother-in-law, we’ve always had a well-used oven in our home. It was only a few years ago, when chatting with a university friend from Hong Kong, that I realised many Chinese households don’t have ovens. My recent fetish with computerised electric rice cookers which include a cake function also made me realise that rice cookers may be the only way for oven-less Japanese households to bake cakes. My hypothesis is supported by the results of google-searching, which throws up very few rice cooker cake recipes/stories in English (except from gaijin in Japan), but quite a lot in Chinese.

Oven easy chicken

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‘Timpra’ is also spelt ‘tempra’, and in The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook Vol. 2: Straits Heritage Cuisine, the sourness in the dish comes from lime juice rather than vinegar.

Timpra

Chicken Timpra

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After that long series of poh piah postings, let’s move on to some chicken recipes.

This one seems straightforward enough, but there’s probably some skill involved in doing good fried chicken – probably to do with getting the correct temperature of the oil.
Chicken Fried

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These days, we’re most likely to buy our sweet flour sauce, bee cheo, ready-made from the shops. As an essential ingredient for poh piah, my grandmother would always insist on getting Buddha brand, which isn’t that easily available in all supermarkets – try the wet market provision store.

Anyway to make your own bee cheo from scratch:
(NB: we tend to refer to coconut sugar more commonly as gula melaka, also known as palm sugar.)

Bee Cheo

Do check out my other poh piah entries here.

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I have finally conclusively identified the mysterious sak luk ingredient. My hunch proved to be correct.

This is what I’ve put up on the ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page:

sak luk (Cantonese) – solved: 18.5.07
= candlenut/buah keras
= 石栗果 (Cantonese: sek6 leot6 gwo2/ Mandarin: shi2 li4 guo3)
= also known as 石古仔 [used in Patsie Cheong’s bilingual English/Chinese Malaysian recipe books]
My Cantonese relatives said the recipes looked very nonya and didn’t know the answer. My Peranakan relatives said it was a Cantonese word and didn’t know the answer. My koo koo had a strong feeling it was candlenut as she had heard the word before, and guessed from the context of the recipes as I did. Then I went to look at the Chinese translation of Shermay Lee’s ‘The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook’, and found the Chinese characters for buah keras. Coincidentally, a woman also browsing at the shelf was talking on her handphone in Cantonese, so I cornered her and asked her how to pronounce the Chinese characters in Cantonese :). Double-checked the pronunciation at CantoDict.

Click on the category ‘candlenut (buah keras/sak luk) in the right-hand column to read the history of my sak luk trail :).

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