Black curry? Go! Go!

You would have heard, seen or eaten Japanese curry. Usually a light brown sweet sauce, with onions and carrots inside it. However, it is not common to see black curry.

Well, dark brown. Hidden at the basement food hall in ION Orchard is Go! Go! Curry.
You can check out their website.  http://www.gogocurry.com.sg/

First good thing about this place is, dedicated seating area, so you don’t have to search and fight for one. They share seating area with the neighboring stall.
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Beside it is huhu.Udon. I really like the way they name their shops, so adorable.

Don’t bother with the individual servings if you are dining as couple or in a group. Just get the Grand Slam, which can feed 2 people.
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A normal single serving cost already $12.50.  For just $18.50 (that’s just $6 more), you get 2 servings of white rice, topped with generous amount of yummy curry sauce. There is a piece of crispy chicken and pork katsu each. One egg, 2 small sausages and one breaded prawn. Not to mention the huge mountain of shredded raw cabbage.
It puzzles me why they serve only one prawn instead of 2. But strictly speaking they didn’t mention it is for 2 people, and I suppose it is a large serving for a huge eater!

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Never fails to satisfy my palate.

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They have cute bowls for kids (and the young at heart).  Yes, I ate from this bowl.

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What spinach and Popeye taught us

In this season of Lent, I have decided to give up eating all kinds of meat (from warm-blooded animals).  This change in diet caused me to feel dizzy on many occasions.  It took me quite a while to realise this could be due to my low-iron diet.

I was researching on food with high iron content, and I vaguely remembered spinach is one of them.  If you do a little search on ‘spinach’ and ‘iron’ on Google, some very interesting things turn up.

Many people will associate spinach with… Popeye the Sailorman!

Image from Comic Book Resources

And the story goes something like this: Popeye was given his first spinach in 1932.  Rumour has it that the creator of Popeye chose spinach for its high iron content, which makes Popeye strong.  Some 60 years before Popeye was born, in 1871 a German scientist Emil Theodor von Wolff published his work claiming that spinach has 10 times more iron than other leafy vegetables.  In was not until 1937 before other scientists realised von Wolff mis-placed the decimal point.  Spinach does not have that much iron after all.

Some people pointed out this story is untrue.  While the article written by von Wolff does exist, we cannot be too sure if the inflated iron content was really due to the error in decimal point placement, or was it purely due to the experimental setup back then.  As Dr Mike Sutton pointed out, spinach was given to Popeye for its high vitamin A content.  Dr Sutton is a criminologist and he wrote an article debunking the story of Spinach, Iron and Popeye (click to read the article).

Image from Developing Diplomat

Spinach does have high iron content.  Unfortunately, it also contains some substances that inhibits the uptake of iron in the body.  Tofu, cereals, potatoes are good sources of iron, so are oysters and mussels.

Whether or not the story of Popeye is true, Popeye had brought many positive influences to society.  And the most important impact is children don’t shun spinach as much.  Recent study showed that children eat more vegetables after watching Popeye cartoon.

From scientific point of view, I think Popeye’s story taught us to be more critical in the quality of research.  Many research publications out there are terrible; mostly they don’t conduct enough experiments to support their theory.  It taught us to be critical of our work, so that we can be confident that our results are real.  Because your findings can very well be world changing.

To end this post, I bring you…

Ingredient of the Day: Chicken Egg

This was supposed to be posted similar time with the post on how to make perfect hard boiled eggs, but I never got to finishing this, till now.

I attempt to answer some mind boggling questions about chicken eggs. But not chicken or egg first.

White or brown?

The two most common colours of eggs we see in supermarkets are white and brown. In Singapore, brown eggs are the most common; we hardly see white eggs, except at atas (premium) supermarkets. I used to think that white eggs are better because they usually cost more, and partly because I always see them using white eggs in angmoh cooking shows.

However, there is actually absolutely no difference between brown and white eggs in terms of nutritional values, taste, texture etc.. They are identical except for their colour. Nutritional value of the egg is influenced by the feed the hens are fed with.

(Photo taken from http://hiporganicmama.blogspot.com/)

Colour of eggshell ranges from pink to green to blue. The pigmentation is genetically determined and deposited on the shell during egg formation in the oviduct.

Why does the egg yolk turns greenish gray when overcooked?

(Refer to my earlier post on How to make the perfect hard boiled eggs)

The short version:
The sulphur in egg white reacts with the iron in egg yolk when the egg is heated. They react with each other and *BOOM*, they form ferrous sulphide, which is a greenish black precipitate. Hence we observe the gray coloration on the egg yolk.

The (very) long version:
I actually found a research article written in 1920 on “The Formation of Ferrous Sulphide in Eggs during Cooking” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1258902/), and I was very excited when I found this article (sorry, it is part of my occupation). The experiments conducted by the researchers were so simple, and the results explained the strange phenomenon. This is why I always love classic research papers. They demonstrate how science can be so simple and elegant.

Almost a hundred years ago, scientists have noticed this strange phenomenon and it puzzled them. Quoting the part on what would know be known today as the ‘introduction’ of the article:

It is a matter of common experience that on prolonged cooking of an egg in its shell a greenish black coloration is produced on the surface of the yolk.

It is also well known that if a so-called “hard-boiled egg” be immersed in cold water immediately after cooking, the green color is either not apparent at all, or is much less marked than is the case when the egg is allowed to cool slowly.

In this article, they identified the culprit that gives the greenish black coloration – ferrous sulphide. Through a series of experiments, they discovered that some sulphur compound in the egg white decomposes when heated, producing hydrogen sulphide gas. This gas then reacts with the iron in egg yolk to form ferrous sulphide.

Interestingly, although both the egg white and yolk contain sulphur in similar amounts, only the egg white produces hydrogen sulphide.

They also found that soaking the egg in cold water immediately after cooking simply prevents the formation of ferrous sulphide, by stopping the decomposition of sulphur compound in the egg white. If your egg was overcooked to begin with, soaking in cold water is not going to help.

Best Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore

When angmohs come to Singapore, one of the local dishes they must try is the hainanese chicken rice.  And I believe most people would point them to either Boon Tong Kee or Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Their chicken rice might be good enough to fool the tourists, but both these restaurants serve trashy chicken rice. The chicken meat taste blend, tough and dry, the sauce is just salt and no fragrance from the chicken, and the rice taste like plain rice .  Not to mention miserable portion and the exorbitant price.  You are better off eating any random chicken rice at hawker centre or foodcourt; they probably taste about the same.

It wasn’t the same 10 years ago.  That was the first time I tasted Boon Tong Kee, and it was the best plate of chicken rice I ever had at that point.  One day after school, my classmate brought me to the outlet in Katong.  The chicken meat was juicy and tender, together with the sauce and rice, it was really damn good!  But their quality suffered with increasing popularity over the years. It is saddening to see the quality being compromised when the brand is established.

Another chicken rice stall that is worth discussing is Sin Kee Chicken Rice.  This stall used to be at Margaret’s Drive hawker centre, but they have moved to the building along Commonwealth Road, just 100m away from the original site.  I personally have not tasted the chicken rice at Margaret’s Drive, but I have recently eaten at the new location.  Surprisingly the chicken rice was quite decent!  But (there is always a but, if not it would be my favourite chicken rice store) what I find is the juiciness of the meat is not evenly sealed; some parts of the chicken is significantly drier than others.  According to my beau the standard now is no where near what it used to be.

The 3 important components of hainanese chicken rice is the chicken, the rice and not forgetting, the sauces.  A good plate of chicken rice is definitely not a ‘healthier choice’.  For the meat to be succulent, the chicken has to be FAT.

My all-time favourite chicken rice stall is…

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Xing Yun Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice

We love this store because all the components are balance.

Chicken:  OMG tender, every part of it.  I don’t like to eat chicken breast, but I gladly eat the chicken breast from this store.  The meat is tender, but not oily.

Rice:  Pretty decent.  Not hard or dry, not blend, not too oily.

Sauces:  The chicken sauce is a perfect balance of sweet and saltiness.  The chili sauce is violent – spicy and fragrant.  Don’t forget to ask for black sauce and ginger sauce!

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There is a permanent queue at the stall, so be prepared to wait about 15 minutes.  We always go there for lunch, not sure if there is any chicken left for dinner!

Xing Yun Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Blk 347 Jurong East Avenue 1
Yuhua Market and Hawker Center
Singapore 600347

Park Lane Wanton Noodle

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The famous Park Lane wanton mee, which is now located in Sunshine Plaza.

Honestly it does not taste fantastic. The noodle is not bouncy, the wanton has little fillings, and the charsiew is of cheap quality. But why do I still crave for it once in a (long) while?

Simply because the flavours remind me of childhood.

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Particularly the wanton, it reminds me of primary school. I used to buy wantons at 10 cents a piece from this plump canteen auntie. Her wantons have barely any fillings, but I really enjoyed eating them. My mum would always tell me not to buy them. And after which, most importantly, my mum would make home made love wantons with lots of fillings! Mushrooms, prawns, pork, carrot, spring onions etc.. Yummy yums.

So the only reason I return to this place is their wantons, plus they use black sauce for the noodle. Supposedly the ‘colourless’ sauce is cantonese style.

Park Lane Zha Yun Tun Mee House
91 Bencoolen Street,
Sunshine Plaza #01-53/85
Tel: 68359212

If you like char siew, you should try the wanton mee at Tiong Bahru Market. I am not a char siew person, but the Tiong Bahru Market stall’s char siew is freaking dope! Another wanton mee worth trying is at Lavender Food Centre; I love their noodles! Both stalls have very long queue, so be prepared to wait!

Update 7 June 2011
I realize there is Park Lane wanton mee in Biopolis. It is located in the food court in Matrix. I tried the fried pork chop noodle today. Nothing fantastic. But the noodle and sauce does taste the same as the one at Sunshine Plaza.

Chicken Pie

The best chicken pie… from Prima Deli!

Someone bought a box of pastries from Prima Deli, and there were some left overs. I spotted the one and only mini chicken pie in the box and grabbed it!

*nom nom nom* Delicious little pie, perfect for afternoon tea break in the office.

Fish Bee Hoon Soup

P51

When I used to work at Biopolis (and am returning back there soon, so excited), we used to go for fish bee hoon soup or san lou hor fun at Holland Drive. But one day we went there and they were gone!  And I have no idea where they moved to.

I remembered someone mentioned to me that they moved to Ghim Moh. But no, they moved to Dover. One of our couple friends brought us there for dinner just a couple of days back. Makan place lost and found!

It was exactly the same texture and taste, except for that night their cooking wine was like free! The soup had so much alcohol inside it was almost unbearable to drink the soup. And we ordered the soup without XO. Can you imagine what it would be like if it was with XO?

Also had their hong kong kai lan and har cheong gai. They were not bad!  Quite delicious actually.

Why I love this fish bee hoon?  Their soup is very different from normal fish bee hoon we find in food courts, where the soup is usually very thin.

There was a period of time I would eat fish bee hoon EVERYDAY – because it always smell so good, but no satisfaction when you eat it. Mostly because the texture of the soup is very thin.  Since then I have stopped eating fish bee hoon, and I am not enticed to eat it at all, because it always end with disappointment.

But this stall is different.  Their soup is so creamy and thick (kind of reminded me of the Melben Crab Bee Hoon, which is to die for), leaves a sense of satisfaction after eating. Yummy!

Though the alcohol was overpowering that night, it triggered the memory of how the soup used to taste.  It just makes me crave for more soup.

Apparently the western food at the same coffee shop is quite hype. Should try it some time.

Dover Coffee Hub
Blk 19A Dover Crescent Singapore 131019

How to make the perfect hard boiled eggs

This may look like a bit of a bo liao (nothing better to do) post.  Actually it’s just because I want to play with iMovie, heh.

You must be thinking how difficult can it be to make hard boiled eggs?  Just dump the egg in water, boil for a long long time and you get hard boiled egg!  At least that was what I use to do…

Hardboiledegg

(picture of eggs taken from http://atomiclulu.wordpress.com)

I was google-ing for images of overcooked eggs (to prove my point of making a ‘just-right’ cooked egg) and I came across this perfect illustration.

You might notice the yolk turns grey-ish on the circumference, which is not aesthetically appealing. There is a scientific reason for this, but I will explain it in another post, in case I bore those who are anxiously waiting to know just how to make a damn good pretty egg.

Laksa

Doesn’t the perfectly cooked hard boiled egg just make the bowl of laksa even more enticing?


Step 1: Put egg in a pot and fill with cold water, or room temperature (NO hot water!), till it covers the egg.  Add a pinch of salt.
Step 2: Bring the water to a boil.
Step 3: When it comes to a boil, turn off the fire.  Cover the pot for 15 minutes (Don’t cheat! Be patient and you will be rewarded).
Step 4: Prepare a bowl of ICE water.  When the 15 minutes is up, take out the egg and soak in the ice water for 1-2 minutes.

Alternatively, you can put the eggs in a kettle, fill the kettle with cold water, press the button and wait for the water to boil.  Then follow steps 3 and 4.

Came across something interesting while I was doing my research – How to make heart-shaped egg  http://gotosay.com/archives/2367