Seriously I can't bring myself to call this bus interchange breakfast place it's proper name, I have always called it Jo Kwon and the name kind of stuck. And my friends know instinctively the quality of the foods there and if they want to spend their precious money there.
I love Jo Kwon's for various reasons. The family operating the business, the no nonsense home-cooked food that they prepare and the aloof friendliness of the people working there. It's cordial and not over the top friendliness. They serve an army of bus drivers who ply Singapore's busy roads to move people, these guys are always on the go, cooking, serving, feeding, and then it's back to cooking again.
The little kitchen behind is always alive with a hustle of activity and busyness, Jo himself is always whacking the wok with his old school soup ladle, working out those biceps and forearm curls with each hurl of sauce and toss of bitter gourd. It's like a free gym right where he stood. Left hand lifting up the cast iron wok and continually tossing the greens over high heat. It's a sauna in there.
Who needs the gym?! Seriously.
And occasionally you have the stray magpie wandering into the little eatery and picking off bits of chicken meat and noodle leftovers. These birds also know how to enjoy good home-cooked food.
I usually would eat their Yong Tau Foo Chilli and bitter gourd stir fry and sunny side up with a mixture of Bee Hoon and Egg Noodles. Not filling but very fulfilling. Like coming home feeling. Definitely Ho Jiaks!
There comes a time in the journey of home cook that you begin a search for your own ingredients. My food adventures has brought me to connect with many like-minded home cooks and it seems many home cooks actually make their own rice wine. Don’t be distracted by the censored image above. It is there for a purpose.
So it seems it takes about a month to complete the entire fermentation process and the rule of thumb for newbies is to start small. Don’t grab any old recipe and dive straight into a micro brewery business in your toilet. Start off with personal consumption as it is the golden rule.
If it works then you can continue to make for your friends if you like.
There are some taboos though. It seems if you are going to make this rice wine, you must not utter any noise or sound. If you do, the wine will ferment badly and you would have to throw the entire batch out and start all over again.
So I thought I would try. And see if it is that easy as they say.
Let’s try it. If it works, and after a month of fermentation, you will find a nice bottle of rice wine. Since I am Hakka, it will be Hakka Rice Wine.
2 kg Glutinous Rice
1 portion of 红 something something (bah.. I forgot the name.. The aunty that shared her recipe didn’t know what it was either and neither did I know what she was saying..)
2 pieces of 酒饼 (apparently you can get it at the Chinese medicinal shop.. Incidentally you can also get the portion of 红 something something from the same medicinal shop.. Just ask the herb concoctionist.)
1 bottle of 白酒 (this is something like a guarantee to make the magic work..)
1. Steam the glutinous rice until cook. Or you can cook it in the rice cooker. But dont forget it is 2 whopping kilograms of glutinous rice.
2. Once steamed or cooked. Spread it out on a large round plate to cool down completely. Make sure it is completely cool.
3. While that is being done, ground the 红 something something into fine powder and then mix it into the glutinous rice. Then crush the 2 pieces of 酒饼 and scatter it into the glutinous rice. Give it a good mix.
4. Put the glutinous rice mix into a container, glass is best. Corning ware has a nice glass casserole dish with cover that you could use.
5. Pour in the 白酒 and close the lid. Some people say no need the 白酒, but who knows until you try making two batches one with and one without.
6. Once you are done, wrap up the container in aluminium foil and label it so that you know when to open it up again. All the best!
If you like your soju, I am sure you will like this simple but yet very nice way of having your Korean soju. When we were on holiday in Korea, we stumbled upon a shop that had watermelon soju which was served in a glass.
I thought why not serve it in the watermelon itself! Wouldn’t that be a great conversation starter?! The only challenge would be how to get your guests to share the straw and convince them that it is totally okay to do that.
Alright, maybe your friends are not so comfortable with that idea. In any case, let them figure out the drinking part, where there is soju, there is a way. So here’s a really simple recipe to get you started on your journey to becoming a great host.
Watermelon (whole) about 7 – 7.5kg
A bottle or two of soju
1. Cut off a small section of the top of the watermelon. Then with an ice cream scoop, dig out the insides into dollops of watermelon fruit. Reserve them in a bowl and then throw the bowl into the freezer. Leave overnight. The watermelon dollops will be frozen and act as ice cubes for the soju.
2. When about to serve, dump the watermelon fruit back into the watermelon shell. Then pour the soju into the watermelon and serve. Easy.
I have always loved Tiramisu, and I like making it even more. The problem is, I rarely get a chance to do it these days, other things have become more subtly more important and I also always tend to forget how to make it. Even for this recipe, I was struggling to recall the proportions right up to the minute before I actually remembered how to make this Italian “Pick Me Up” cake.
This beautiful no-bake recipe is da bomb. Once you know how I make it, you can also do likewise. If you don’t like it the way I do it, then please feel free to mutate the recipe to whatever configuration you like. Ultimately it must make sense to you and the taste must be absolutely fantastic.
I took up a class on how to make Tiramisu recently, and the trainer said that due to the presence of unsavoury hygiene habits of some bakers, they have decided to stop using eggs in this no-bake version of the Tiramisu. I thought it could be more like an industry-wide conspiracy to boycott the use of eggs. But then I discarded that thought as there were many other recipes that still called for the use of eggs.
Anyhoo, I think eggs are perfectly fine for Tiramisu and in fact they make the taste uber yummy. But suffice to say, if you’re a parent, you might want to stop your children, especially toddlers from eating this delicious Tiramisu as the eggs are uncooked. But again, your children, you decide. But if they suffer massive LS, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Don’t know what is LS? Ask your Singaporean friends.
Some bakers will opt to whisk the eggs over a boiling pot of water when combining with the Mascarpone. Well, you can do that if you like. I personally think it is kind of silly. But again, it’s a baking technique, and I am not here to change the status quo, if it makes you happy, then do it. I am not doing it that way. In fact if you know what I do for my recipe, you might exclaim in a loud voice “Wah SO EASY ah?”
Yes, it is that easy to make Tiramisu.
Okay, just in case you think I am bragging, take a look above at the rather nondescript photo of my Tiramisu. It’s perfect don’t you think so?
For those of us that cannot visualise my instructions, I found a video on how to make Tiramisu for you to follow. There are plenty of videos with all different concoction of ingredients, but trust me, mine is the best. No alcohol, and no added flavouring. And just in case you think I sound like that on video, well I don’t. I chose the video because the video quality looks quite good. Just imagine that it is me teaching you. Disregard his ingredients and follow mine.
500 grams Mascarpone Cheese (can buy from NTUC finest or Cold Storage, any brand also can)
100 grams Castor Sugar
1 and half packets of Ladies Fingers (not the vegetable, but they are also known as sponge fingers biscuits with sugar)
Very Strong Coffee (I use Nescafe Gold Blend)
1. Firstly separate the egg whites from the yolks of the 4 eggs. Make sure the egg yolks don’t drip into the whites otherwise the egg whites won’t be able to achieve the stiff peaks. But I had some egg yolks dripped into my egg whites. Of course, if you ask me what did I do next? I continued to whip it using my super-duper KitchenAid machine. It whacked the egg whites into submission and they all stood stiff at the end of it. So don’t believe what people tell you. Take it from me.
2. Oh, you have to add the 100 grams castor sugar into the egg whites before whipping them. I know some recipes say that you are supposed to add the sugar into the egg yolks and not the egg whites. I think it is the same, so if you want to follow other people’s way of doing it, you can. Whipped it until it it stiff peaks. Then you taste the mixture. It should taste something like candy floss.
3. Next up whip the egg yolks with the Mascarpone cheese until pale yellow and creamy in texture. You generally want to incorporate as much air into your mixture as possible. Once you have done these two steps, you can combine the two together and fold them until they are one.
4. Using a large dish, you are now ready to make your Tiramisu. Make a large cup of extra strong coffee. I use Nescafe Gold Blend and I make it extra strong by adding more coffee grinds and less water. I dip the sugar coated end of the ladies fingers into the strong coffee and quickly take them out and flip them on the reverse side and then place the biscuits into the tray. Basically by doing so the biscuits don’t become soggy too quickly and you still have the basic taste of the biscuits.
5. You want to line the dish with the coffee infused ladies fingers so that it forms a bedding for the whipped Tiramisu batter. Once you have arranged a layer of the ladies fingers, you can now dump the batter into the dish and form a layer. After you have done that, you can powder a thin layer of cocoa powder. Repeat the ladies fingers dipping action and form another layer of bedding. After that, dump the remainder of the batter into the dish.
6. Once you have done all that, seal it with cling wrap and throw it into the fridge to set. Some recipes call for overnight freezing for it to set. I think if you have a good fridge, it should set in 2 hours tops. After all, it should be eaten in a soft mushy manner.
7. Once it is set, and sufficiently chilled. Dust it with cocoa powder and you can serve.
So after a brief hiatus, this drink that made its debut appearance some years back has now decided to come back and flush our quest for thirst quenchers with a little bit of punch. The Somersby Pear Cider, an alcoholic (kids don’t try this drink) drink is now readily available island wide. So what is this drink actually? Honestly, to me it is just another drink. More importantly from the video, it seems to be targeting youths who can drink legally. So ok, it looks like a cool drink. Maybe I will give it a try.
Also, there seems to be some kind of competition or promotional contest to win some money (I like!) and it seems not a very difficult thing to do. Anyway, I checked out the video for more clues and guess what? I found absolutely nothing. In conclusion, I might not be very smart.
Oh well. Maybe I will find more clues if I bought a bottle. You know how sometimes these contests usually hide their contest entry forms in the packaging. Who knows I might win something.
Starbucks have begun hiring elderly persons for their outlets. That to me is a heartening move. The elderly is a largely untapped human resource that could be harnessed for local businesses that require much needed manpower.
The elderly lady who took my order, knew exactly what it was that I wanted and she gave me the best starbucks service that was on par with any starbucks crew.
Wow. I am impressed. Kudos to the management for taking on the silver move. Employers who are able to, should consider training and investing in this resource. Elderly persons who are looking for part time or full time employment should also consider different positions like these. It is not so much about the work that one does, it is more about the meaning that the work gives to the person doing it.
Try it. Be like the 老 auntie barista. She can do it. Anyone can.
I can’t remember the last time I had a toast box coffee (kopi) or tea (teh), but I was quite taken aback that it was so cheap.
The lady at the Chinatown point outlet punched in my order and I took a quick glance at the cash register and it said $1.80 (SGD). Naturally I was happy-like-bird and gave her two dollars.
I looked at the cash register again and this time around it said $3.60 (SGD). To my embarrassment, I realized that each cup of Kopi C and Teh C was $1.80 each. Oh my. When did it become so expensive?
Of course this is still way cheaper than Starbucks, but then again this was not Starbucks but Toast Box, so it took me by surprise. If we put things into perspective, it would suggest that the drinks here are almost twice as expensive as any regular coffee shop.
I can afford the price increase, just wondering if there was a need to increase the price though. Oh well.