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Sunday, January 15, 2017 | The Sunday Times

Girl with golden giggle returns

Goldie Hawn is among the comeback
stars this year

Actress Constance Song and other stars share
their family dishes for Chinese New Year.
Kenneth Goh reports.

Travel tips for Mexico New life Hotels aim higher Colourful Guizhou
Get insights from Ambassador Helpers start anew back Perks and more to fight Chasing rainbows and legends in
Rogelio Granguillhome Morfin home with some help off competition south-western China
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C22 | The Sunday Times | Sunday, January 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 | The Sunday Times | C23
Life Food & Drink Food & Drink Life

Festive Bonding over

chicken meat
by hand makes
for finer, more
tender meat,
says host-actor
soup preparation
Ben Yeo, who
makes a chicken,
crab and For television host-actor Ben Yeo, bonding with his

mushroom soup family over reunion dinner starts not at the dining
for Chinese New table, but in the kitchen.
Year. ST PHOTOS: One of his fondest childhood memories of Chinese
LAU FOOK KONG; New Year is helping his mother prepare the ingredients
VENUE COURTESY for sharks fin soup with chicken, crab meat and mush-
OF DE DIETRICH rooms, one of his familys reunion dinner classics.
He and his three siblings were in charge of shredding
boiled chicken meat and peeling crab meat from shells,
while his mother cooked other festive dishes, such as
braised sea cucumber and mushrooms, steamed fish

for the
and stir-fried leeks.
Yeo, 38, says: It was very tedious work, but it was
fun, like playing with play dough.
After years of observing his mother make the sharks
fin soup, the culinary arts graduate from hospitality BEN YEOS CHICKEN, CRAB
institute Shatec came up with his own version when he AND MUSHROOM SOUP
started his own family seven years ago. He has two
sons, aged eight and five, with his wife, Ms Claudia
Cheong, 38, who helps run Big Big Heart, a domestic INGREDIENTS cutting them into three equal parts

abuse shelter started by Yeo. 250g chicken breast, skin removed with a pair of scissors. Set aside.
He also runs Western restaurant Tenderfresh Clas-
1.8 to 2 litres water
sic, which has four outlets including in Our Tampines 5. In a clean pot set over high heat,
Hub and Cheong Chin Nam Road. 100g Japanese vermicelli, soaked add crab leg meat and about 500ml
His soup recipe omits sharks fin for conservation in water of water. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
reasons and also because he says it doesnt add much Drain and set aside.
400g store-bought crab leg meat
Another modification is replacing tang hoon (glass 50g corn starch 6. Dissolve 50g corn starch in
noodles) with Japanese vermicelli. Unlike tang hoon, 50ml hot water 50ml of hot water. Set aside.
Japanese vermicelli does not become too soggy when 7. In a clean pot set over high meat,
cooked and has a firmer and more chewy bite, like that 2 litres store-bought chicken stock
add 2 litres of chicken stock and
of konnyaku (Japanese jelly), he says. 200g enoki mushrooms, chop off roots
He also adds enoki mushrooms as they are a family 500ml of water. Bring the mixture
and discard
favourite. to a boil.
To reduce preparation time, he uses frozen crab leg 10 pieces fresh shiitake mushrooms,
8. Add enoki mushrooms, shiitake
meat, but insists on shredding chicken meat by hand stem removed and julienned
mushrooms, cooked crab leg meat,
instead of slicing it. 3 pieces black fungus, soaked shredded chicken and black fungus
Hand-shredded meat is finer and doesnt fall apart
With less than two weeks to Chinese New easily. And the meat is more tender, he says. It
in hot water and julienned into the mixture at high heat.
Egg whites from three eggs, beaten Mix contents well.
Year, there is still time to think about what reminds me of my childhood.
He wants his children to learn how to prepare this White pepper and vinegar to taste 9. While stirring the soup in the pot,
festive dishes to whip up to usher in the Year of dish. They are old enough to start helping out in the pour corn starch solution gradually
kitchen and this also gives them a sense of what their METHOD
the Rooster. Four celebrities share the recipes grandmother used to cook.
1. In a pot set over high heat, add
to thicken it. To check the consistency,
Besides the soup, Yeo, who hosts Little Life Hacks, an take a scoop of the soup and watch how
and stories behind their family favourites info-education series on Channel 8 on Sundays at chicken breast and 800ml to 1 litre it flows back into the pot. It should not
10am, also prepares a steamboat meal for his family water, or enough to cover the meat. be too thin or starchy. Let it cook for
with ingredients such as abalone, fish and sliced pork Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the five minutes till the mixture bubbles.
belly. water comes to a boil.
10. While stirring the soup, pour in egg
Other than feeding his family, another Chinese New 2. Drain and rinse chicken with tap
Year tradition he observes is to buy them a new set of white gradually from a bowl and let it
water to bring meat to room cook for one to two minutes.
clothes from head to toe, from inside to outside.
He says: The practice helps to spice up Chinese New temperature.
11. Turn heat off, scoop soup into a bowl
Year or else it will become just another holiday. 3. Use hands to shred meat into thin and add white pepper and vinegar to
strands. Set aside. taste.
Kenneth Goh 4. In a bowl, soak Japanese vermicelli
for 10 to 15 minutes in water before Serves 10 to 12

Noodle soup to Vegetarian take Three decades of

kick off new year on grandmas dish laksa steamboat
For more than 30 years, actress Constance Songs first Growing up, actor Nick Shen fondly remembers observ- Long before it became trendy for restaurants to use
meal on the first day of Chinese New Year is home- ing his late grandmother cook lunch while doing his laksa gravy as a steamboat stock, theatre director-
cooked mee sua soup. homework after school. actress Selena Tan, 45, has been tucking into laksa
She eats a version of the thin wheat noodle dish at an Her speciality was steamed fish in Teochew style, steamboat during Chinese New Year.
aunts house, where 15 to 20 relatives gather for a feast. that is, with ginger, salted vegetables and pickled For 30 years, laksa steamboat has been a staple in the
The noodles are served in a pork rib stock brewed plums. familys reunion dinner and open house, during which
overnight and topped with ingredients such as fishball, These memories have inspired him to come up with a 80 to 100 relatives and friends drop by throughout the
abalone and black moss (fa cai). vegetarian version of the classic Teochew dish of day.
This is the taste of childhood for the svelte steamed pomfret. The star of the laksa steamboat is the tongue-tingling
41-year-old, who is currently seen on Channel 5s The dish features slabs of tofu (beancurd) that are stock that is concocted with a blend of laksa rempah
drama series, Tanglin. arranged in the shape of a pomfret. They are laid out on (spice mix) and prawn broth.
She says: Although mee sua is soggy and doesnt a bed of dried seaweed that mimics the scaly texture More than 20 kinds of ingredients are cooked in the
have an al dente texture, I need to eat it to celebrate and taste of the fish skin. Covering the body is a blanket soup, including yong tau foo, steamed chicken wings
Chinese New Year every year. It is a family tradition. of chewy oyster mushrooms, pickled plums, salted and tau pok (fried beancurd).
The dish, which is also a symbol of longevity and vegetables and strips of Chinese mushrooms, ginger The steamboat is not complete without thick white
good fortune in Chinese culture, is also eaten on birth- and red chillies. bee hoon, cockles and a dollop of homemade fiery sam-
days. Instead of lard, fried soya bean crumbs are added for bal.
Over the years, she has perfected her own version. crunch. Laksa steamboat is the brainchild of Tans mother,
Her soup is a chicken stock spiked with hua diao jiu One of the first few times that Shen cooked vege- Daisy, 66, who runs the Peranakan restaurant, Daisys
(Chinese rice wine) and topped with seaweed, peanuts, CONSTANCE SONGS MEE SUA SOUP Homecooked tarian pomfret was for a family dinner on the first day The classic NICK SHENS VEGETARIAN POMFRET' Dream Kitchen, in West Coast Road, with her son, Roy, SELENA TANS LAKSA STEAMBOAT The laksa stock
fried ginger slices, omelette slices and chicken. mee sua soup of Chinese New Year two years ago for 12 people. Teochew dish 37. that theatre
It is the only dish that Ive learnt to cook from my is actress The five-course vegetarian meal included dishes of steamed Tan, founder and artistic director of theatre compa- director-actress
mother two years ago, so that I can enjoy it whenever I INGREDIENTS into half and let it cook for two Constance such as curry with mock chicken meat and potatoes, pomfret inspired INGREDIENTS triangle to form the tail. The ny Dream Academy, says: We like eating all sorts of INGREDIENTS rempah for two to three minutes. Selena Tans
crave it, she says. 400g chicken fillet, skin removed minutes. Flip the omelette to the side Songs first meal broccoli with mushrooms and his signature dish, actor Nick Shen 25g dried seaweed (two sheets) remaining tofu will not be needed. ingredients that can soak up the thick and lemak (rich Shells from 20 prawns family make
4. Pour prawn stock prepared earlier
Song, who is starring in home-grown composer Dick and cut into 5 by 3cm slices and let it cook for another two each Chinese lotus root soup with radish and corn. to create a 2 blocks rectangular tofu (600g each) 6. At each side of the body, tuck in Malay) laksa gravy. My siblings and I ate a lot of such 1.5 litres water for their Chinese
Lees upcoming film, Wonder Boy, opening in August, New Year. The 40-year-old recalls: It was pressurising as it was vegetarian rempah-based dishes as my mum grew up in a into the pot. Turn heat to high and New Year
5 tsp light soya sauce minutes, till it is slightly brown. Slice 2 tomatoes, sliced sliced tomatoes and two dried
does not cook often and generally steps into the ST PHOTOS: my first time cooking for so many people. I spent the version. Malay-Peranakan kampung. 160ml vegetable oil bring mixture to a boil. Stir the mixture steamboat
the omelette into thin slices. Set aside. Chinese mushrooms.
kitchen only for her lover, son and therapist, a four- 2 tsp sesame oil NIVASH JOYVIN whole day in the kitchen chopping and cooking. ST PHOTO: 100g dried Chinese mushrooms, While she would not reveal the recipe for the home- 500g store-bought laksa rempah occasionally. contains a
year-old male golden retriever, Murphy. She whips up 5. In a pan set over high heat, add It is my way of showing sincerity through the effort NIVASH JOYVIN soaked for 30 minutes 7. Cut 1/4 of a piece of dried mushroom made laksa rempah, she says it is a blend of seven ingre- (spice paste) homemade
1 tsp sugar 5. Pour in evaporated milk gradually
dishes such as steamed vegetables with beef for it. 11/2 Tbs sesame oil, chicken and sliced that I put into cooking. and use scissors to cut out a circle. Use dients, including blue ginger, lemongrass and candle- rempah.
Salt and white pepper to taste 150g oyster mushrooms 2 stalks lemongrass, remove white while stirring the mixture in the pot.
It is evident that the two share a tight bond, with the ginger, and fry the chicken for three to The actor eats vegetarian food most of the time as it is the edge of a knife to make a slight nut. ST PHOTOS:
dog prancing excitedly around Songs two-storey healthier and environmentally friendly. 2 to 3 pieces Shantou pickled plums As a healthier alternative, she uses evaporated milk portions and crush 6. Stir 5 Tbs of light soya sauce into the NIVASH JOYVIN
61/2 Tbs of sesame oil four minutes. depression on the head of the fish
terrace house in Upper Thomson Road during this inter- A self-confessed perfectionist, the founder of events (squashed) instead of coconut milk and she says the laksa tastes 400ml evaporated milk mixture.
400g ginger, shredded 6. With chicken slices still in the wok, and place the cut-out in it for the eye.
view. company Tok Tok Chiang fussed a fair deal over the 200g salted vegetables just as nice. 5 Tbs light soya sauce 7. Add tau pok into the pot and cook for
For this Chinese New Year, Song, who owns Spanish- 4 eggs, beaten pour in chicken stock and let the dishs intricate decorations from cutting cherry toma- 8. Cover the body with oyster She also squeezes lime juice into the laksa to inject
6 red dates 10 pieces tau pok (fried beancurd) five to 10 minutes.
Japanese restaurant Bam! in Tras Street, plans to whip 10 to 20g ginger, sliced thinly meat cook in the mixture till it comes toes into the shape of rabbits to crafting flowers from mushrooms, pickled plums, salted some tanginess into the stock.
up a noodle soup dish for Murphy that is inspired by to a boil. shredded carrots and Japanese cucumbers during 6 roasted almonds vegetables, strips of the remaining As part of their Chinese New Year tradition, her fami- 100g finely chopped laksa leaves 8. Use the laksa stock as a steamboat
mee sua. The dish comprises chicken and gluten-free 500ml store-bought chicken stock this interview. ly of 30 gather for a reunion dinner comprising seven base. Add ingredients of your choice,
7. Add hua diao jiu and water and stir 20g ginger, sliced dried mushrooms, red dates, almonds and sambal to garnish
bee hoon in a vegetable stock. 350ml hua diao jiu (Chinese rice wine) One reunion dinner that he starkly remembers was and 10g of ginger slices.
to eight main courses that are enough to feed an such as yong tau foo, prawns and
Since Murphy is a part of our family, it should follow continuously. the year after his mother died from cancer 10 years ago. 2 Tbs sesame oil army.
400ml water METHOD cockles.
what we eat and our traditions too, she quips. 8. Add mee sua and cook for two to She used to take charge of the festivities by cooking 2 Tbs light soya sauce 9. Drizzle 1 Tbs of sesame oil and 1 Tbs The dishes include pen cai (treasure pot filled with
Her other food highlights during the festive period 550g mee sua (seven bundles), soaked her specialities such as ngoh hiang and baking cashew of light soya sauce over the fish. seafood), ngoh hiang (five-spice prawn roll), roast 1. In a big pot set over high heat, add
three minutes in the stock. Turn heat 6 Tbs vegetable oil
are a steamboat reunion dinner with her family with for two minutes before rinsing with and almond cookies, he says. duck, chicken rice and fish maw soup all whipped up shells from 20 prawns into 1.5 litres of Serves 10
off. Use a pair of tongs to transfer 10. In a wok set over medium heat,
must-have ingredients of fiery mala stock, beef and fish water It felt so different without her and I particularly 3 Tbs store-bought soya bean crumbs by her mother and Roy. water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then
mee sua into a serving bowl. bring some water to a boil and steam
and pineapple tarts, which remind her of pineapple missed her that night. White pepper to taste Tan, who will be directing a new musical set in a turn the heat to low and simmer for
25g dried seaweed 9. Divide mee sua and chicken into four the pomfret for 10 minutes.
jam biscuits, a favourite childhood snack. These days, the bachelor continues the tradition of school called Detention Katong at Esplanade Theatre about 30 minutes. It should be
3 red chillies, thinly sliced 11. In a pan set over medium heat,
bowls. Garnish each bowl with strips of decorating the familys five-room flat in Bukit Panjang. from Feb 17 to March 5, recalls that the festive food reduced to about 1.2 litres. Drain and
METHOD fried omelette, fried shredded ginger He is also busy during the Chinese New Year season as 10g coriander to garnish add 2 Tbs of vegetable oil and fry the line-up these days pales in comparison with the astro-
set aside. Discard the prawn shells.
1. In a mixing bowl, marinate chicken and seaweed. he is hired for God of Fortune appearances and Chinese remaining 10g of sliced ginger till nomical amount of food they had when she was grow-
slices with 4 tsp light soya sauce, 2 tsp opera performances in companies and schools. METHOD ing up. 2. In a wok set over high heat, add 100ml
slightly brown for about three
sesame oil, sugar, salt and white Shen, who is starring in a Channel 8 drama as a police 1. Line a large plate with two sheets of Tan is married to John Pok, 48, who helps run Dream vegetable oil and laksa rempah and fry
Serves four minutes. Set aside on kitchen towel.
pepper. Set it aside for 30 minutes. officer in March and Zi Char, a telemovie on E City dried seaweed. Academy. They have a two-year-old son. for a minute. Turn down heat to medium
(StarHub TV Channel 111 and 825) in August, has also 12. In the same pan, add 4 Tbs of As for one of her favourite Chinese New Year Eve and continuously stir the mixture for
2. In a wok set over medium heat, add been decorating the corridor of his flat with his neigh- 2. Slice tofu blocks into half horizontally. vegetable oil and fry soya bean memories, she says: Wed eat, watch television, go about 45 minutes. Set aside.
4 Tbs sesame oil and fry shredded bours for the past four years. 3. Slice two of the four slabs of tofu crumbs for three minutes. Set aside comatose and hop into the car to Chinatown at 11pm to
ginger till golden brown. Set aside. He says: It always puts me in a festive mood. rub shoulders with other shoppers and buy goodies at 3. In a pot set over high heat, add 60ml
into half and then diagonally to get on kitchen towel.
last-minute discounts to get into the festive mood. vegetable oil and rempah. Use a
3. In another mixing bowl, stir 1 tsp eight triangles of equal size. Set aside. 13. After the pomfret is steamed,
spatula to flatten the rempah around
light soya sauce into four beaten eggs. 4. On the seaweed, arrange two drizzle 1 Tbs of light soya sauce and the pot. Once the rempah sizzles, turn
Mix well and set aside. Go to to watch Nick Shen remaining tofu rectangles next to 1 Tbs of sesame oil on it. Add white
heat down to medium, add crushed
4. In a clean wok set over medium heat, assemble his vegetarian pomfret. each other to form the fish body. pepper to taste.
lemongrass stalks and mix well with
add 1 Tbs sesame oil, pour egg mixture Stack two tofu triangles at the front as 14. Garnish with slices of fried ginger,
in gradually till it fills the pan. After two the fishhead. red chilli and coriander.
minutes, use a spatula to fold the egg 5. Place one tofu triangle on each side
of the body. Place another tofu Serves six