Lau Pa Sat – Satay Street of Singapore

The hawker centre at Lau Pa Sat(old market) in the middle of Singapore’s CBD is situated in the original wet market building featuring beautiful colonial architecture. The original structure was relocated to this spot at 18 Raffles Quay from the waterfront in 1894 and a stunning clock tower which still chimes in the hour was added.

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

Now the building is home to a thriving hawker’s centre filled to the brim with stalls featuring cuisines from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Apparently at lunchtime all the local office workers flock to the centre for lunch.

Each evening the street in front of the Centre transforms hastily into what is know as Singapore’s Satay Street with stall after stall specialising in different styles of satay. The smoke from the charcoal fires fills the air with the it restive bbq aroma of satys cooking and plastic tables and chairs quickly become occupied with diners – locals and tourists alike!

A good tip is to sit towards the back of the street away from the cooking fires to avoid rhe smoke getting in your eyes and clothes. Also take wet wipes or extra napkins to avoid getting harassed by passing salespeople. We chose to eat at Stalls #7&8 which comes highly recommended. Table service is provided by waiters attached to each of the stalls. Servings are chosen by the number of sticks of satay and the mix of types you would like. We went for the mix of prawn, chicken, beef and mutton. Menus from other stalls in the hawker’s centre are also available so we ordered some rice and klankung to add a bit of green to our dinner.

Jugs of cold Tiger beer are $GD20 and the way to go if there are a few of you dining.

Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore
Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore

The satays arrive without fanfare but are some of the most delicious I have tasted. The spice mix on the prawn satays is especially good. The taste of the charcoal grilled meat With a delicious satay sauce is quintessially south-East asia.

Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the cbar coal grill with spicy satay sauce.
Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the char coal grill with spicy satay sauce.

A great way to get a quick, tasty and atmospheric dinner, in the midst of downtown Singapore, maybe before a visit to some of the amazing rooftop bars like One Altitude nearby?

Top Thai with views in Singapore

We are in Singapore visiting our son Nick who has been posted here for work since earlier this year. Now living the life of an ex-pat, Nick is being a great tour guide during our stay. Last night we went down for a walk along Boat Quay along the river. The Quay is a bustling tourist destination with a range of restaurants from Lebanese and French to Indian and Singapore Seafood. We chose Lanna Thai for dinner after drinks at the Red Spot Brewery further down the Quay.

Clean and orderly, Lanna Thai at Boat Quay in Singapore
Clean and orderly, Lanna Thai at Boat Quay in Singapore

We were greeted warmly by the waiter and given a lovely table right on the riverside with views of the stunning Marina Bay Sands building, Fullerton Hotel and passing boats in the background. After ordering drinks, which are expensive, we decided to start with some Thai standards – mix satay of chicken, beef and mutton and Thai fishcakes. The satays came with a delicious satay sauce in which you could taste the freshly roasted and crushed peanuts. The Thai fishcakes were super authentic achieving that elastic texture and lightnness that only Thai cooks seem to know how to get.

Thai green chicken curry and Roast Boneless Duck at Lanna Thai
Thai green chicken curry and Roast Boneless Duck at Lanna Thai

Succulent and tender roast boneless pork
Succulent and tender roast boneless pork

For mains we chose Butter Grilled Prawns in Claypot, Thai Green Chicken Curry and Roast Boneless Duck. I ordered Nam Prik(fresh sliced chilli in fish sauce) as a side sauce to add that extra kick of spice. The food was so surprisingly good for what looks like a tourist trap restaurant, I forgot to take photos until we were almost done. Certainly the grilled king prawns with their sweet, succulent meat deliciously enhanced with a butter sauce were demolished quickly as was the meltingly tender boneless duck.

Lanna Thai Green Chicken Curry, the chicken was thinly sliced to absorb the flavours from the delicious cocnut curry sauce. Thai basil., Apple and pea eggplant and bamboos shoots featured in curry too.
Lanna Thai Green Chicken Curry, the chicken was thinly sliced to absorb the flavours from the delicious cocnut curry sauce. Thai basil., Apple and pea eggplant and bamboos shoots featured in curry too.

imageThe Thai Green Chicken Curry was spiced exactly right with a finely balanced cocnut curry sauce and authentic vegetables such as apple and pea eggplants, bamboos shoots, and Thai basil.
Prices are calibrated for tourists so expect to pay $70-80 per head depending on how many you drinks you have! (Wine of course is as with much of Asia at silly prices for silly brands, so beer and spirits are the go!)
Not usually a fan of tourist area restaurants, I was very pleasantly surprised by the authenticity and quality of the food at Lanna Thai and would recommend a visit if you are heading to Boat Quay.

All that was left of the Sweet king prawns cooked in an indulgent butter sauce.
All that was left of the Sweet king prawns cooked in an indulgent butter sauce.

Healthy Chicken and zucchini meatballs

These chicken and zucchini meatballs are quick and easy, light, fluffy and healthy. They can be teamed up with a spicy tomato sauce, wrapped in a flatbread with salad or enjoyed as a canapé with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Prep time: 25 minutes  Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients
400g chicken mince
2 small zucchini peeled and grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp cummin powder
2 red chillies very finely diced, seeds removed
1.5 tsp ginger and garlic crushed
Handful coriander chopped
4 spring onions white and green parts finely chopped
1/2 tsp Salt

2 small zuchinni peeled and grated for chicken and zuchinni meatballs
2 small zuchinni peeled and grated for chicken and zuchinni meatballs

Method
Pre-heat oven to 150’degrees celcius
Line a baking tray with baking paper
Mix all ingredients and chill in fridge for 15 minutes
Form meatballs and place on baking tray

Chicken and zuchinni meatballs on baking paper ready for oven
Chicken and zuchinni meatballs on baking paper ready for oven

Cook until golden for 20-25?minutes
Serve with dip and wedges of lemon
Makes about 15-20 meatballs

Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger

Most Indian meals should be accompanied by a Dhal – an almost souplike side dish which can be made from a number of different types of lentils. Dhal is an absolute must to accompany South Indian vegetarian meals adding essential proteins. My version is quick and easy, using red lentils and the flavours featured are inspired by the dhals of Kerala and other parts of South India. Tarka dhal refers to the process of adding a Tarka(seasoned oil dressing with onions, tomatoes and spices) to the boiled lentils which adds flavour and depth to the sauce. Unlike most recipes I prefer to “cook” the boiled lentils in the Tarka at the end to allow the flavours to permeate the whole dish. For a richer and creamier consistency that is truly South Indian, coconut cream can be added at the end or else to make it sinfully delicious a knob of butter. Dhal keeps well in the fridge and can be successfully frozen and reheated. Leftovers are also great on toast.

Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.
Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.

Prep time:5 minutes Cooking time:25 minutes
Ingredients:
For Boiled lentils
3/4 cup red lentils
3 cups water
4-5cm knob of ginger peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
For Tarka
1/2 onion sliced finely
1/2 tomato chopped into small pieces
1 tspn fresh ginger and garlic ground into paste (2 small cloves garlic and equivalent amount ginger)
2-3 dried red chillies
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful curry leaves
1 stick cinnamon bark
2 tspns vegetable oil
Coriander chopped to garnish
Optional: knob of butter or 1/4 cup coconut cream

Method
Bring water to boil in small but deep pot or saucepan
Add knob of ginger, turmeric and salt
Add lentils stirring initially so the don’t stick to bottom
Reduce heat and cook on a low rolling boil for about 20 minutes or until lentils become soft and create a souplike consistency.
Add water in half cup measures as you go to allow for this consistency to be achieved without the mixture sticking or burning.

Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal
Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal

In a seperate deep non-stick frying pan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add cinnamon stick, dried chillies, cummin seeds and curry leaves to flavour the oil ensuring spices don’t burn.
Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent for about 5 minutes, then add black mustard seeds.
Fry mustard seeds with onions and other spices for 1 minute and then add tomatoes, ground ginger and garlic.
Cook for another 5-8 minutes stirring regularly until tomatoes have broken down and slightly caramelised. Turn off heat.
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal

When lentils have boiled, reheat Tarka on medium heat in the frying pan, and then carefully pour boiled lentils into the seasoned oil, spices and onions and bring to a simmer to allow flavours to permeate the dhal.
Add extra butter or coconut cream at this point if you are using.
Garnish with coriander and serve.

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment

Durban-style Lamb and potato curry

The smell of curry leaves frying in oil with spices and onions is one that always transports me to the kitchen of my Aunt Vimala. Even though it was a regular occurrence in our own home, there was something very special about staying over at Uncle Pat and Aunty Vim’s with all the cousins. She was a wonderful cook and inspired my love of cooking. This traditional lamb and potato curry is a staple in many South African Indian homes and now in the homes of my family and many friends in Australia.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time:1.5 hours
Ingredients
800g diced lamb, preferably lamb chump chops with fat removed and diced so that there are some small bones but plain diced lamb can be used too
3 teaspoons ginger and garlic ground together into a paste
1 large brown onion diced finely
1 tomato chopped
1/2 bunch coriander including stalks
2 pieces cinnamon bark
5 cardamom pods
Handful of curry leaves removed from stalks
1.5 teaspoons cummin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1.5-2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon fennel powder
1.5 teaspoons cummin powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium size potatoes quartered
2.5-3 cups water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
4 dried chillies(optional)

Ginger, garlic, cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, turmeric, cummin powder, fennel powder and chilli powder Ginger, garlic, cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, turmeric, cummin powder, fennel powder and chilli powder

image
Method
Heat oil in a heavy based, medium sized casserole pot
Add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, cardamom pods and curry leaves
Stir for a minute until fragrant on medium heat
Add onions lower heat and cook slowly until translucent
Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute still on low heat
Add turmeric, cummin, fennel, salt and chilli powder and stir fry for 1 minute ensuring the spices don’t burn – take off heat if necessary.

Onions cooking with curry leaves and dry spices Onions cooking with curry leaves and dry spices

Add tomatoes and chopped up coriander stalks and stir fry for a minute, then add lamb and increase heat to medium high
Cook lamb to seal it, adding 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock if sticking
Once lamb is sealed, add enough water or stock to just cover, bring to a boil and then lower heat to low and cover with lid to simmer for 35 minutes
Check lamb every ten minutes or so stirring and ensuring there is suffient liquid for the meat to stew
After 35 minutes add potatoes and 1/2 cup of water or stock if necessary so potatoes can cook in liquid for another 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender
Taste to see if extra salt needed
Take lid off and I crease heat to reduce liquid if necessary without allowing potatoes to disintegrate
(If potatoes are too tender and you want to reduce liquid, take the potatoes out, reduce liquid to a viscous gravy consistency and then add potatoes back in.)
Remove cinnamon bark and excess curry leaves when transferring to serving dish.
Garnish with coriander and serve with roti and/or basmati rice and salad and red lentil dhal.

Lamb and potato curry served with basmati rice and red lentil dhal Lamb and potato curry served with basmati rice and red lentil dhal
Lamb and potato curry garnished with coriander Lamb and potato curry garnished with coriander

Thai Chicken Soup with rice (Khao Tom Gai)

Adrian has been down and out with the flu – so this morning I promised him the fix all, hearty, spicy Thai chicken Soup with rice that is part congee, part soup. This version has helped our family through many episodes of cold and flu. Add fresh chilli as a garnish along with coriander and chopped spring onions and your sinuses will feel a lot clearer by the time you finish the first bowl. The rice and chicken add nourishment and the stock has a silky texture from the rice being cooked in it.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Ingredients
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 litre water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger finely sliced
2 chicken thigh fillets chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion finely diced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Garnish: fresh red chillies, coriander and spring onions

Method
Wash rice and rinse several times
Bring water and chicken stock to boil and then add rice
Simmer for about 20 minutes on a rolling boil until rice is of almost a porridge consistency, adding more water to ensure there is plenty of rice stock
In a seperate large pot, heat vegetable oil then add ginger, garlic and onions and stir fry over medium heat until onion is translucent and there is a bit of caramelisation starting
Add chicken, pepper and fish sauce and stir fry until chicken is cooked about 15 minutes adding some of the rice stock to stop sticking or burning if necessary
(I put the rice on about 10 minutes before cooking the chicken)
Transfer rice and rice stock into pot with chicken and simmer together for 5 minutes until flavours meld together
Garnish and serve in bowls with extra fish sauce added if needed.
Have extra chilli and tissues on hand to help really clear those sinuses.

Before garnish Thai Chicken soup with rice
Before garnish Thai Chicken soup with rice