Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marutama's Chicken Broth Ramen

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After sashimi/sushi, ramen is possibly the most popular Japanese food type around our corner of the world. We don't have to look too hard to find a shop or other with a large らーめん sign showing its' dedication to the Japanese noodle soup - so when the ramen hunger kicks in it's easy to satisfy our cravings!

Anyway that's sort of how we find ourselves seated in Marutama Ramen over at Suntec City. An immediate downside is that it's situated in a shopping mall directly above that "open area," so if there's an event or fair happening it can be quite noisy. We're also somewhat amused by the menu having only one choice of soup - and instead of the typical shio, shoyu, miso or tonkotsu base, Marutama's soup is based on chicken broth.

The Marutama Ramen (SGD12.00) comes with lots of noodles and a single measly slice of yakibuta (the half-boiled egg is a $1 add-on), which in my humble opinion, is way overpriced. I mean, consider that if you fly to Tokyo you can get this bowl of noodles with way more pork for less than $10!

Back to Singapore though! Taste-wise I was also disappointed. The noodles were too soft for my liking, and the broth while being thick and quite flavorful, brought memories of Maggi's chicken flavor instant noodles. Don't get me wrong, I'm not equating Marutama's broth to a 2-minute instant soup base, but the association is there =[

The Ebi Ramen (SGD15.00) was a little better. It still has the same base chicken broth but with a pretty strong prawn flavor infused into the soup. And the prawns were pretty fresh, too!

Gyoza for SGD5 - nothing much that I can say about this, to be honest. It wasn't bad, but neither was it noteworthy.

Overall, the darling and I come away rather disappointed. If you're a lover of all things chicken and don't eat any other instant noodle flavor then Marutama is worth a try. Otherwise, it's only a five-minute walk to Shin Sapporo Ramen which is better and has much more variety.

Our Ramen Rankings:
Superb!: Ippudo & Santouka
Delicious!: Nantsuttei, Tampopo & Keisuke Tonkotsu King
Solid: Shin-Sapporo, Keisuke, Gantetsu, Gensuke, Riki, Ikkousha & Bario
Below Average: Marutama, Menya Musashi & Menya Iroha

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cooking Exploration ::: Longevity Noodles 长寿面 (Chang Shou Mian) - Minced Pork with HK Style Noodles

Some traditions should be kept, some probably can be ignored. I choose to keep this as I see there is a meaningful purpose to have this still running in the family line. Many families have given up this tradition and followed the western style just blow a candle, have a cake, and sing a birthday song. Some still keep to have 2 hard boiled eggs will do. I love to start every lucky love ones birthday with 2 hard Boiled Eggs and Noodles.

Longevity Noodles - Minced Pork with HK Style Noodles

Why suddenly I am blogging about this? It's because it's deary birthday today!
Happy Birthday to deary!!!

I woke up extremely early this morning to fix these cupcakes up! **smiles**
Are they pretty enough to be marketed and sold?
Darling's Birthday Cupcakes

Let's get back to topic!

My grandparents and my parents used to tell me that birthday boy/girl must have noodles as a blessing to have Long Life, Good Luck, Prosperity, Happiness and Abundance. I know it sound superstitious, but it's a good wishes so why not let's follow? Also, it reminds me of my ancestors teaching. Even in Chinese restaurants they serve this noodles too! Probably different restaurants serve different types depending on their chef style. This is one of mine style. The one i cooked for dear when we was in Mauritius, too bad there is no pictures of it if not i would have shared the recipe here.

Click here to read about some hidden meaning of food to Chinese cultures. That I do find it interesting!

First, you need to prepare this early to flavor the minced pork.

200g of Minced Pork

Minced Pork Marinate:
1 teaspoon of Sugar
1 teaspoon of Cornflour
1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil
Dash of White Pepper

Mixed well and let it sit to marinate for at least 30minutes!

1 tablespoon of Cooking Oil
2 diced Shallots
3 cloves of Garlic
2 tablespoons of Xiao Xing Chinese Wine
Dash of Soy Sauce

Heat the pan along with the cooking oil and put in the Shallots and stir fry till it's semi-transparent, immediately add in the Garlic and continue to saute till the garlic is slightly browned. Place the Marinated Minced Pork in and use the spatula to chunk it up. Add in the Xiao Xing Chinese Wine and Soy Sauce, and continue to saute till the pork are all cooked. Dish in a small plate and set aside for later use.

Using back the same pan. Heat up the Noodles Mixture.

Noodle Mixture:
1.5 tablespoons of Shallot Oil
1 tablespoon of Pork Lard
1.5 tablespoons of Light Soy Sauce
1.5 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce

When done pour it in the bowl. The reason i would like to separately measure this later is to ensure that the noodles are not overly seasoned.

Leave the empty pot there to toss the noodles later, so there will be less things to wash at the end of the day.

3 rolls of HK Style Fresh Egg Noodles

Fill a pot small enough to stand your sift (so you won't need to hold it) with water 3/4 full. Keep a big tub of cold water beside this pot.

Take the water to a boil. Place the loosen noodles in the sift and let it cook till the noodles seems averagely cook. Remember you have to use your chopsticks to on off loosen up the noodles so it will cook evenly. When 1min is done, remove the sift from the boiling water and shake it off. Dunk it in the cold or room temperature water and loosen it to cool all down, then again! put it back in the boiling water for a while more to warm the noodles up. Drain it and put in the other pan. Continue with the next bunch of loosen noodles till you're done.

I like to do it one by one for this step as I was taught from my previous restaurant "master chef" of wan tan mee, how to handle this correctly. He made me eat all my noodles and he tries it too. Guess how many bowls I need to make till he was satisfied with my handling of noodles? (answer will be right below of this post.)

Here are some pointers:
**different type of noodles takes different timing to cook.
**don't be afraid to test out and throw one away when it's over cook.
**learn how to see with your naked eyes when your noodles are ready. (this is hard)

2 tablespoons of chopped Spring Onion
3 sliced Cherry Tomatoes for refreshing bites

After all your noodles are in the pot, measure the Noodle Mixture by tablespoons. 2 tablespoons of it for 1 roll of noodles used. Toss it to mix well then add in the Minced Pork, Spring Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and toss again.

Then dish to serve!

Longevity Noodles - Minced Pork with HK Style Noodles

You might notice there are 2 hard boiled eggs served along with the Longevity Noodles. This is another Chinese good wishes for the birthday boy/girl. However, I do not remember what meaning it actually brings. Please do tell me if you know.

Haha! Here is the answer you've been waiting for!
I only was able to succeed after making 10 bowls that I have to eat myself for my meals. =.=

There are still more tricks that i learn back there. Hope I will be able to share it here.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chili Crab and More at the Seafood International Market & Restaurant.

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Chinese-style set dinners are awesome. One dinner, 8-10 different dishes to tease the palate and stuff the stomach, it's a shame that I don't have nine other regular dining partners with whom I can go eat more of these set dinners with. Or a blessing in disguise, depending on whether I'm thinking of satisfying my stomach or taking care of my wallet :) Anyways, the darling and I needed to plan a family dinner so we decided on the Peking Duck & Abalone Seafood Set at The Seafood International Market & Restaurant.

The nine-dish set comes with a "complimentary" bottle of Elderton Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - "complimentary" being another word for "included into the price we pay," of course!

First dish - the Special Deluxe Four Hot Dishes. Presentation-wise it's perhaps a bit lacking in color, but taste-wise it's decent. The four dishes are scallops with veges, deep fried crispy baby squid, soft shell crab, and some sort of clam that we couldn't identify :)

Moving on to the Braised Special Shark’s Fin with Enoki Mushroom & Crabmeat in Supreme Pumpkin Stock, a candidate for the longest name for a dish record, perhaps? I found the soup nice-tasting but a tad bit too starchy. Oh, and apologies if you're of the "save the sharks" persuasion ...

One reason we chose this particular set (other than budget) was because my mum likes Traditional Sliced Peking Duck. As is standard with Peking Duck servings, the skin is carved out & wrapped in pancakes, and the meat is then taken back to the kitchen to be cooked with some other dish to come later.

What isn't so standard is that the waitress wrapped the crispy duck skin with the spring onions, cucumber and pancake for us. Which is both good and bad, in my opinion - good because it's convenient, bad because you can't customize the amount of sauce, or duck skin, etc. Not everyone likes spring onion, for instance.

Tonight was also the first time I've sampled Singapore's "iconic" dish - Chili Crab! Named Lion City Chilli Crab in this restaurant, it was actually pretty good! The crab was quite fresh, and the sauce was just the right blend of tangy and spicy to make it a very "refreshing" dish to eat. My favorite crab style is still fried with salted egg though.

After that's done we move on to a fish dish that frankly needed lots more work on presentation - the Baked Garoupa with Whole Garlic in Opeh Leaf. The fish was pretty fresh, but tasted a bit ... hmm, ordinary.

Oh and before I forget, somewhere around here we had the Baked King Prawn with Trio Pepper Sauce which was also decently good. I forgot to take a photograph of it, though, possibly because my fingers were all dirty from manhandling the chili crab :)

I did manage to snap the Braised Sliced Abalone with Sea Cucumber (Sand Fish) & Greens! I think by this time most of us were close to throwing in the towel, so perhaps we couldn't really appreciate the dish. That, and I don't really dig the (lack of) taste of abalone or sea cucumber.

The last dish is almost always a stomach-filler fried rice or noodles, and tonight's dinner was no exception - the meat from the peking duck being used in the Tossed Eggs Noodles with Shredded Duck. I thought that the noodles were nicely done - they were not at all "heavy" tasting which is a good thing when you've already had seven courses of food in the tummy.

Finally, some Mango Pomelo with Twin Thai Kueh to round up the night. Thought that it was a nice touch that the desserts were served in individual bowls. The dessert was sweet and had some nice strong mango-ey taste, but the pomelo was a bit bitter and so ruined the experience a bit for me.

Overall, we found the food very solid and, at slightly over $60 per person after service charge and GST, pretty good value for money as well. Ambience wasn't too bad - we had a private room which has a $500 minimum charge - although this being a Chinese restaurant, you can't expect peace and quiet.

Service was a bit of a mixed bag, though. The sweet-young-thing Vietnamese waitress assigned to our table was very 'proactive' in wrapping our peking duck pancakes, cutting & splitting up the fish & serving to all ten people individually, etc. But we also had to keep on asking for chinese tea refills. In the end she redeemed her shortcomings by taking this awesome group photo! Was pleasantly surprising because most waiters/waitresses botch up these things :)

The Seafood International Market & Restaurant is in the Big Splash compound in the East Coast Park. There isn't much in the way of bus or MRT transport here, though, so if you don't have a car you'd probably need to take a taxi.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Travelling to the Airport ... for dinner? Awesome とんかつ (tonkatsu) at Saboten, Changi T1!

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"Let's go to the airport for some dinner" are words that you probably don't hear every day. Unless, like us, you live only a couple of stations away on the MRT. Which is a shame, though, because especially in a high volume, busy airport like Changi International, there's bound to be a couple of solid restaurants. Case in point - Saboten on the first floor of Terminal 1, which serves some of the best とんかつ (tonkatsu) we've ever had!

Perfectly situated on the first floor overlooking the check in counters, it's a perfect chill-out joint where you can relax and do some people watching. Yes, there are some drawbacks: for example it's pretty noisy with frequent announcements over the P.A. and other random airport noises, but I'm willing to overlook many comforts as long as the food's good!

The darling and I place our orders and sit back to wait. First off, the shredded lettuce. It's served with two dressings - a citrusy orange soy sauce dressing and a sesame one. I'm pleasantly surprised that the bowls were all pre-refrigerated to keep the lettuce cold as you eat. Definitely a very neat touch that more restaurants should emulate.

The tonkatsu sauce doesn't come completely pre-made: you have to grind your own sesame seeds with the provided mortar-and-pestle (kind of), for maximum fresh sesame taste.

On to the main courses then! I have the Saboten Special Set (SGD25.00) which comes with a prawn, mini pork loin cutlet, mini pork tenderloin cutlet and potato salad croquette. The cutlets are superb! Light, crispy and flaky breadcrumb/flaked battered, To nitpick I'd say that the pork could perhaps be slightly more moist and tender, but that's a very, very small nitpick.

Since the special set already has pretty much everything, our second choice is the Loin Katsu Curry (SGD19.50). It's the same awesome flaky crispy battered pork loin cutlet, drenched with Japanese-style curry. The curry is solid but not spectacular though, and it pretty quickly soaks into the katsu's batter, so I'd recommend just sticking to the normal, un-currie'd stuff.

Both sets come with free flow miso soup and rice, refilled as many times as you want - which I again thought was a nice touch. Oh, and a scoop of green tea ice cream at the end, too.

So in conclusion, an awesome tonkatsu joint with very reasonable prices - highly recommended! If you live along the eastern half of the green line, it is totally worth a SGD1.50 MRT trip down to Changi T1 just for dinner. The only downside, perhaps, is that Saboten doesn't really serve anything else other than various types of deep fried meats, so it won't work out for you if your dining partner(s) are in the mood for sushi.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Korean Exploration ::: How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage with radish

Homemade KimChi Soup / 홈메이드 김치 국물

Walking into a dozen of korean shops, you will definately see KimChi 김치 it's like must have dish in Korea! With this basic homemade in hand you won't be worried about the prices you are pay for your KimChi used for your recipes.

Total cost is approx S$50 for 7kgs of KimChi. That's a lot of KimChi...!!!

Let's start with your shopping list:

3 fresh Chinese Cabbage
4 1/2 cups or 990g of FINE Salt
2 litres of Water
3 heaped tablespoons of Glutinous Rice Starch
2 cup or 256g Korean Chili Powder
1 1/2 cup Fish Sauce
6 tablespoons of White Sugar
18 Spring Onions
15 cloves of Crushed Garlic
3 knobs / 1cm of Ginger
3/4 Brown Onion
700g White Chinese Radish

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Chop the Chinese Cabbage into half then slice from the bottom twice to make it 3 slices. This will make 6 slices for each cabbage. Remember not to slice all as this way it will fasten your salting and KimChi Paste spreading later.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Soak them in slight salted water, while grating the White Chinese Radish and slicing the Spring Onion.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Drain and remove the washed cabbage into a tub.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Lightly salt the leaves. Outside - in between - Inside. After salting all of the cabbage, set it inside the tub for 2 hours, then rotate the bottom cabbage with the top ones halfway through leaving it for another 2 hours.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Kimchi Sauce
Now you can put these ingredients from the Korean shop in use!
How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Place the Garlics, Ginger, Brown Onion in the food processor, to make it into a paste.

Can either use grated White Chinese Radish or put it in the food processor with the rest of the above.

Put the water and sugar in a pot to boil till the sugar totally dissolve, turn off the fire and add in Glutinous Rice Starch and stir till mixture is smooth. Place a side to cool.

Scoop out all the paste into big pot or bowl add in the cool mixture then add in the Korean Chili Powder.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

If you're mixing with hands like me, remember to wear a glove! Don't be a hero, your hands will be hurt by the spicy level of this KimChi Paste.

Mix well then add in the white radish and spring onion into the paste, if the paste is too dry, add more water little by little to loosen it up a little bit. Taste the mixture and make sure it is saltier, spicy, and somewhat refreshing and sweet because of the White Radish.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Rub the paste all over the cabbage in the similar way as the Chinese Cabbage is salted, make sure this delicious & spicy KimChi paste is in between every leaf. Be generous!

Store in a big plastic containers.

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Now, just store and leave it out at room temperature for 9hours minimum or 24hours maximum for it to ferment then it can be refrigerated.

I took some pictures!

Fermenting after 2hours.......

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Fermenting after 4hours.......see the juices!

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish
How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

Fermenting after 6hours.......

How to make KimChi / 김치 ? - Spicy fermented cabbage and radish

I'm pretty tired so i went to sleep... =P

i stopped after letting it ferment for 12hours.

My suggestion is to cut the KimChi into bite sized pieces, keep in containers. In the below picture the container can store about 500gram. Why bother storing in this way? It's because you would wanna bless your friends. Whenever your friends pop by you can just grab one tub for them to bring home! They will leave your house with a BIG smile.

Homemade KimChi Soup / 홈메이드 김치 국물

A must try and learn this "very high skill" recipe which can save a whole lot of money by making this Homemade Kimchi by yourself. Along with dozens of happy faces that you will be blessing!

Remember to keep a lot for yourself too coz i'll be doing a few recipe with this basic dish!

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~