Ayam Penyet

Ayam penyet, which means “smashed fried chicken” in Javanese, is an Indonesian dish consisting of a piece of fried chicken that is smashed on a pestle and mortar to make it softer, and served with sambal, cucumber slices, fried tofu, and tempeh. I’d dare say that ayam penyet is quite a popular dish here in Singapore, with outlets in coffeeshops, malls, and even schools (cue: NUS Science Canteen)! It will definitely be a hit for deep-fried food lovers AND those that love a good sambal.

My previous time at Ayam Penyet Ria was ages ago and it was a hit back then. Fast forward to 2017, it has since opened a number of branches – 2 in Lucky Plaza, and others at Far East Plaza, and Jurong Point.

Lucky Plaza’s Ayam Penyet Ria outlet on the 4th floor was the choice for dinner on a Friday night. Being early is important as within an hour or so, the seats were filled up really quickly – which shows that it is still a favourite!

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General Layout of the Restaurant

I’m quite a skeptical person when it comes to an original outlet having various branches throughout the island as there is a tendency for the quality of the food to deteriorate through the years. However, the food did not disappoint. The fried chicken was crispy, but the meat was a little dry but that could be changed with adjustments to the cooking time! Do take note that their sambal is quite spicy (even for me), so if you’re a moderate spice eater, beware!

To make sure the chicken is moist and juicy after a deep fry, you’ll have to poach the chicken first so that the inside is cooked through. The high heat from the deep fry process is meant to crisp up the meat as a whole, and not really meant for cooking the meat through. So if the poaching process were to be omitted, what you will get is a crispy but overcooked piece of meat. The Ayam Penyet Recipe from Bearnakedfood does this! What the chef also did was to marinate the meat overnight for more flavour and a more tender piece of meat.

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Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken) – Comes with deep fried beancurd, cucumbers, tempeh, cabbage, and a dollop of sambal

Next up was Tahu Telor aka Beancurd Omelette, also another deep fried dish. This dish is part of the street food culture in Indonesia and it involves a mixture of beaten egg and tofu that is deep fried, and served with a peanut sauce. I am quite sure that the “high tower” shape is a new addition to this dish as normal tahu telors are pretty much flat. To get this “high tower” shape, just use a mould (it has to be metal of course; used soup cans are great, but remove the labels). I am not a big advocate of deep fried eggs as somehow I find that it takes away the flavour of the eggs. Nevertheless, it was still a great dish!

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Tahu Telor/Telur – Beancurd Omelette

Address:
Lucky Plaza:
204 Orchard Road, #04-25/26 & Level 1,
Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863

Far East Plaza:
14 Scotts Road, #05-22
Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213

Jurong Point:
1 Jurong West Central 2, #B1-06,
Jurong Point, 648886

Nearest MRT:
For Lucky Plaza and Far East Plaza:
Orchard MRT Station (NS22)

For Jurong Point:
Boon Lay MRT Station (EW27)

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 11:00AM – 10:00PM

South Union Park

Hidden in the residential areas about a 7 minute walk from Kembangan MRT station, you’ll find situated in a corner a nice little bistro that sits about 50+ people comfortably. I learnt from Danielfooddiary that they opened in March last year and how the chefs were trained in fine-dining techniques and modified their dishes for a casual dining experience.

Scotch eggs are commonly part of picnic menus over in the United Kingdom and the sausage meat is normally seasoned with herbs such as sage (sage+pork are great buddies), thyme and parsley. Over here at South Union Park, it had an oriental feel to it because there were hints of lemongrass and ginger which were pretty new to me but still tasted great! (And the eggs were cooked well, with a runny centre!)

This would definitely be a recommended dish – Squid Ink Risotto ($26). Risotto cooked al dente, topped with generous portions of well-cooked squid, prawns, and clams. The slight citrus hit would be due to the grated lemon zest which does lift the whole dish. The best thing about this dish is the absence of a fishy taste. My past experiences with squid-ink related dish has been nothing but fishy, but not this time.

Another dish that is a must try would be Poutine ($12), a ducky, cheesy, potato-y bowl of goodness. Just think fries with duck gravy and melted cheese – that’ll get you drooling.

We decided to order one of each dessert – Brownie ($9), topped with a generous scoop of salted caramel ice cream, candied walnuts, and butter scotch; Passionfruit Carrot Fondant ($14), with frozen yoghurt and a carrot ginger purée; Roasted Pineapple & Coconut Parfait ($11), with butter cookies, coconut, and oat granola; Banana Chocolate Parfait ($8), with banana & chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and candied walnuts. (Photos of both parfaits are not displayed here, but it was delectable!)

The brownie is shown above, while the fondant is shown below.

Brownie was served warm with a soft interior. It was a combination of great textures – the nuts, the soft salted caramel ice cream, the warm brownie, all enveloped by gooey butterscotch.

The Passionfruit Carrot Fondant had an unique taste – an interesting amalgamation of flavours and ingredients such as a carrot ginger puree! I wouldn’t call this dish an acquired taste, but a one that plays with your tastebuds! The fondant was cooked perfectly, with a molten centre, similar in principle to that of a chocolate fondant.

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And here’s us, with our satisfied faces after a wonderful meal. Staff were all very friendly and ready to help. I’m definitely coming back because they change their menu every 6 months! So head down to South Union Park to give the dishes a try!

Check them out at instagram here!

Address:
101 Jln Kembangan,
Singapore 419139

Nearest MRT:
Kembangan MRT Station (EW6)
The bistro is a 7-8 minute walk from the station.

Opening hours:
Closed on Mondays
Tues – Thurs: 5.30PM – 10:00PM
Fri: 11:30AM – 10:00PM
Sat: 9:00AM – 10:00PM
Sun: 9:00AM – 9:00PM

90 minutes for lunch? Let’s go!

What do you do if you only had 90 minutes for lunch? You’ve got to sit down quickly and clean out the food! (Nah, just kidding. Please don’t eat too fast, and chew it well before you swallow it.)

Enough talk and let’s go straight to the food.

If you love Korean spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki) and hotpots, why not combine them into one? Dookki Restaurant is the place to go! Situated at the basement of Suntec City, it is a few units away from Ya Kun so you’ll not miss it!

Dookki restaurant is quite popular so you have to be prepared to wait for your table. Most importantly, make sure EVERYONE from your group is there and ready to enter the restaurant. Rest assured, the staff is really efficient in making sure you have a table and are seated comfortably.

Once you’re seated at your table, and when the waiters/waitresses have taught you how to handle the hotpot, off you go to the buffet section! They have 8 varieties of rice cakes, and they come in different shapes, lengths and sizes! My personal favourite? The sweet potato rice cake. Keep your eyes peeled for a purple rice cake!

When you’re done choosing the rice cakes, get yourself some sausages, seafood, spam, and vegetables (this is to make you feel less guilty when you’re gobbling down all the processed meat). Please take the mung bean sprouts as they go really well with the sauce and adds a crunchy texture to the dish.

Of course, what’s tteokbokki without its sauce? Concoct your spicy sauce with the 5 recipes displayed at the sauce corner. OR, if you’re into spicy foods like me, go all out (add more of the flame sauce).

Just behind the sauce corner are dishes of fried food. These are all meant to be put into the pot when the sauce is done so don’t forget it! My favourite would be the fried ‘kimbap’. Instead of ‘bap’ or rice, they wrap noodles with seaweed, dip it in batter and deep-fry it. An absolute joy.

Once your sauce is ready, add the stock along with the sauce and this is what you should get, as shown above. Let it bubble before adding all your ingredients in. Give it a good mix and you should get what I got below. The sauce will definitely thicken so it is up to you to pour in a little bit more stock if you find it too thick for you. Oh, before I forget, they serve “eomuk”, or commonly known as fishcakes on skewers! These are pretty reminiscent of Korean dramas – how they savour every single stick and wipe it clean.

Lastly, top up approximately $10 for a cheese ring if you’re an absolute cheese fan. I was impressed at first but I realized the ring was not attached to a heat source, thus the cheese hardened when it cooled down. So the trick is to eat it all up (i.e. wrap it in rice cakes or anything) before it hardens! It is totally fine if you skip this order. At $18.80++ per person, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go for this buffet!

 

Address:
3 Temasek Boulevard, #B1-107,
Singapore 038984

Nearest MRT:
City Hall Station (NS25/EW13)
Promenade Station (CC4/DT15)

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri
11.30AM – 10.30PM

Penne Bolognese: In less than 30 minutes!

In less than 30 minutes? Pasta bolognese? Yes it’s possible! The most important step before cooking is to prepare all your ingredients – “Mise en place”, a French term – which means “everything in its place”. You won’t have to worry about not preparing your vegetables, or taking meat out of the fridge.

Yes, bolognese sauce can be done in less than 30 minutes. I would say it’s a little like Nigella Express. With the right ingredients and proper steps, you don’t have to slave over the stove for hours and hours. There are many variety of meat sauces but of course the authentic one comes straight from Italy. Italian chefs have shown the proper way and the original recipe for the bolognese sauce and I wouldn’t dare to offend them!

My recipe is catered for convenience and families that would want a quick but really delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 600 – 800g of minced beef
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large red onions (or yellow, whichever you prefer), finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 – 3 pieces of anchovy fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of Prego® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes, reuse to add one can of freshly boiled water
  • Pasta of your choice (I used penne here. Traditionally, tagliatelle is used.)
  1. An important point to take note of when cooking minced beef, a tip I learnt from great chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, is to never put your mince in a cold pan. ALWAYS make sure your pan is really hot before adding your oil and adding the mince just before the oil starts to smoke. Also, try to use a deep-based pan for the mince.
  2. When you’ve done that, let the heat come back up and then start stirring the mince to break it up. Let all the water evaporate so that you can start searing/browning the meat.
  3. Once the meat is browned (take note of the crackling sound in the pan). Add the cumin powder, chilli powder and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and mix everything together.
  4. Add the finely chopped onions, crushed garlic, grated carrots, and continue mixing.
  5. Empty the bottle of tomato sauce as well as the tinned tomatoes, and also a can of freshly boiled water.
  6. After stirring for a couple of minutes, add the cherry tomatoes last. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. By now, you should already have a pot of salted boiling water to prep your pasta. The cooking time should be approximately 2-3 minutes less than the instructions on the packet (I will explain later).
  8. Drain the pasta when done, not before saving a cup of pasta water, and pour it into the bolognese sauce. Mix well!
  9. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, al dente or more than that, serve it from the pan or in a glass dish.
  10. Garnish with sprigs of coriander leaves/cilantro and julienned chilli.

[Notes]

A deep-based pan is important as you will be handling a substantial amount of liquid as well. For this recipe I used a wok as it IS deep and quite big as well. It is important to get it really hot as you don’t want to boil the meat. You want to caramelize the meat – gives it extra flavour.

Pasta choice is entirely up to you. I chose penne because the meat sauce can get trapped inside the holes thus making every bite a pleasure!

When cooking the pasta, you must know that there will be additional cooking time in the bolognese sauce. If the instructions on the packet says 11 minutes, and you cook it for that long, your pasta will be overcooked and might turn soggy. That is why you cook it 2-3 minutes less than the original so the pasta will be just nice when the dish is completed.

It is also not a crime to use pre-made sauces from the supermarket. They add so much flavour within a short time. However, to balance it out, I add a can of tinned tomatoes, some water, and occasionally a teaspoon of sugar to make it gentler on the palate.

In this recipe, I have added 2-3 pieces of finely chopped anchovies as it gives the dish a greater depth. People might hate anchovies, but after chopping them and simmering, they just melt away, leaving no trace. At. All.

Give this a try, and I would really, really appreciate any comments! Comments about the recipes, food, or even ways to improve my blog!

 

Changi Village Hawker Centre

So it’s my first time going to Changi Village’s Hawker Centre. When I got there, the sights and sounds were enough to trigger all the five senses. The heat and humidity, the smell of satay being cooked over red-hot charcoals, the plethora of colors in all the dishes, people ordering and orders being relayed to the respective chefs and lastly, the taste of good food.

Speaking of satay, two of us decided to go for satay before the rest of our friends arrived. Our pick was “Kam Satay” a nice little stall selling different kinds of satay such as beef, tripe, mutton and the traditional favorite, chicken. I’m a lover of offal so tripe was my first choice, followed by mutton and chicken. Both the chicken and mutton satay were well-marinated and extremely tender. Tripe was relatively okay, but a little gamey. An interesting bit was its satay sauce, which had a stronger shrimp taste as compared to the sweeter ones elsewhere.

Next up was Nasi Lemak from “Sri Sujana”. Most versions that I have tried have a chilli paste that is sweet and spicy. However, the one I tried had chilli that was a little acidic which was pretty interesting! The fried chicken wing had a nice coating of batter around it making it very crispy, which is always a hit with me. Top it off with fluffy rice, crispy ikan bilis (deep fried anchovies), and a fried egg completes this dish.

The seafood bee boon was my favorite. What made it memorable was its extremely flavorful broth, which was accompanied by generous pieces of crayfish and clams, bits of ginger, and beehoon (vermicelli). It is then littered with pieces of deep fried pork lard which further enhances the flavor by adding a nice crunch to the dish.

Changi Village Hawker Centre is definitely worth a second visit, and more!