Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FairPrice Finest: Cooking Workshop at ToTT Store.

Where do you all purchase your groceries? I do my grocery shopping at all the different supermarkets / hypermarkets in Singapore. Depending on what's on specials, or where I know only certain stores carries certain specialty goods,  I go to different stores. 

I do most of my groceries at either FairPrice Finest or Cold Storage because these two are nearest to my home. Where I live, these two competitors are like 200 metres from each other. I usually go to FairPrice Finest because it is 200 metres nearer and their things are more reasonably priced.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

How do I know when there's special offers? I receive SMS from the supermarkets. I think many of you got this too last Friday evening. It reads - FairPrice Finest: Savour Alaska King Crab Leg with RONGOPAI Pinot Noir. This fruity wine pairs well with this seafood.

Are you tempted by Alaskan King Crabs?

Guess what? Last Wednesday I attended a very hands on cooking class at ToTT Store. It was only when I got there, I was told the session was sponsored by FairPrice Finest.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

(I am going to get a litte carried away here..... )

My family and I love ToTT Store, in fact, on the first trip there not long after it opened, we were tempted and bought enough stuff, we qualify to get their members card. But I never got time to attend classes there. So when I was invited to go, I was really glad!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

So, there was I, having my first hands on cooking class at ToTT Store Cooking Studio.
It was so exciting.  I love to check out people's kitchen!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Some of you know I am a techie by vocation. I like gadgets! All kinds of it, be it IT gadgets or kitchen gadgets!

When I saw this Bosch induction hob, I was so excited. (Again, some of you also know,) I have been slow in posting these few weeks because my place is being renovated. Momo, sis and I ordered this same hob! The hob at home is yet to installed when I attended the class, so that class was a hands on training on how to use it!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

I was not the only one that was 'kepo', everyone attending the course, opened the drawers to check out what's inside. We have almost everything at home too! I can even tell you that the measuring spoon on the bottom left is magnetic and it's by Jamie Oliver. Sis bought it from ToTT few months ago!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

A peep at the cabinets below. I have similar things, but the ones I have are all much cheaper because I buy such stuff from UK/US when I am on holidays. You won't believe what I carry back from holidays in my luggage!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Chef Ming Tan was our 'facilitator' as he calls himself. We had to cook our own meals, so he was there to just facilitate. He said he won't be teaching as he thinks we all know quite a bit, he is just being humble.

Other than being a cooking instructor at ToTT, he's a personal chef that goes to your home to cook. You know, something like "Take Home Chef Curtis Stone". The only difference is that Chef Ming Tan does not spot you in supermarkets and cook dinner in your house.

If you want him to cook at your house for dinner parties, you can contact him at http://www.oooh-jam.com/ or visit their Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/oooh.jam

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Anyway, back to the cooking class. Some of the ingredients needed for the session.

I will share with you two recipes here that can be paired with different wines.

(You should know where you can get these fresh ingredients, FairPrice Finest! I was just at Finest earlier for my weekly grocery shopping, and the Blue Pumpkin from Australia that you see in the photo above costs $5.90/kg. Today's price! I do groceries you know!)

King Crab and Asparagus Salad

Ingredients A
  • 6 large asparagus stalks
  • 500 gm pumpkin
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Ingredients B
  • 5 lime leaves (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper 
Ingredients C
  • 250g crab meat
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven first around 160 degrees Celsius as you do the following steps.

Preparing the things to bake with Ingredients A:
Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Use a peeler to get rid of the rough outer layer of the asparagus. Then cut them around 2 inch long. You can see I did not do a very good job at peeling off the outer layer.  (I was taking photos and cooking at the same time!)

Tip from Chef Ming, keep rolling your asparagus as you cut them so they look this way. Doesn't it look better than all being in the same length and shape?

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

The original recipe that we received used 4 avocadoes instead of pumpkin. I think they could not get riped avocadoes, so they substituted avos with pumpkin instead. I think these are Blue Pumpkin from Australia that I see sold in Finest. These pumpkin are really nice!

Cut them into chunks like above. They should not be too big and should be about the same size so that they cook evenly in the oven.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Mix the pumpkin, asparagus, garlic, olive oil into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Make sure it's all coated with enough oil. Transfer the ingredients into a baking dish or aluminum foil on your baking tray. Baked for around 9 minutes or till they are tender.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

You guessed it! The similar oven I have at home!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

The asparagus and pumpkin was ready. It was cooling in the oven while we work on other things.

Preparing the dressing with Ingredients B:

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

It's so obvious I have used more garlic than in the recipe. I love garlic!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Kiffir Lime leaves (daun limau purut) are so fragrant, 5 of these leaves chopped up finely gave the dish a wonderful fragrance.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Mix the lime leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and the dressing is ready!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Just look at the Alaskan King Crab claws! We each used 3 claws for your dishes in the class.
It's really easy to take the meat out, use a scissors to cut the joints, then cut the 'tube' open and the crab meat comes out!

Do you know Alaska Crabs are high in protein, low in fat and calories and are a good source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids? And because Alaska Crab is precooked, you can heat and serve it in a hurry. Just boil, steam, broil, bake or grill for 8 to 10 minutes for frozen crab or 3-4 minutes for thawed crab or until the internal temperature of the crab reaches 145'F (use on instant-read thermometer and test crab in the shoulder section).

It's on sale at FairPrice Finest now. The usual price is $7.50 per 100 gm, it's now on sale at $5.90 per 100 gm. I went to Finest store near home to see if there's still stock because a fellow participant said the Finest near her place has run out! A pack is around 700 grams or so, so you pay around $40 plus for it.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

There you go, mix everything up in a bowl and plate it!
Looks good? Well, it tasted really good!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Now for some explanation provided by the experts:

Rongopai Marlborough Pinot Noir.

Packed with dark cherry, earth and spice. The palate is full and very evenly layered with dark fruits, spice and leather, finishing with fine tannins and a hint of cedar. A very drinkable wine upon release that should age gracefully.

Why best paired together?

Pinot Noir is light and fruity, often acidic, and generally lacking in tannic structure. The light body of the varietal pairs well with the lighter mouth feel of seafood, such as Crab.

Seared Mahi-mahi with Hollandaise and Sundried Tomato Coulis

Here's the second dish that we learned at the class.
Oh, I should tell you, this was equally easy peasy like the recipe above!

Here are the ingredients for the dish:

Ingredients A
  • 4 x 150 g Mahi-mahi fillets
Ingredients B
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • A mix of star anise, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon stick.
Ingredients C
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 80g salted butter (chilled)
Ingredients D
  • 100g sundried tomatoes (soaked in water and blended) (if from jar with oil, skip soaking step)
  • 1/2 cup warm beef stock

Making the Coulis from Ingredients D

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

I never knew making sundried tomato coulis was so so so easy! If you are using the dried (and not those in oil) version of sundried tomatoes, just wash them gently and then soak them.

I first heard of the word coulis when I was watching Masterchef on TV! Coulis is a thick French sauce.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Blend them and add in the warm beef stock. Depending on how wet your rehydrated sundried tomatoes are, add the stock in slowly. You don't want it too wet.  Zap them till they are smooth.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Now the magic! When you get the consistency you want, add in the cold salted butter and give it a final blend!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

See how smooth and glossy it becomes now? The cold butter mixed with the warm mix just glows!

It was also very tasty! You can add in a tiny bit of salt if you want, but I did not.
There you go, Sundried Tomato Coulis!

Making the Spiced Butter with Ingredients B

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Chef Ming's version of Hollandaise sauce has an Asian fragrance to it.
He infuses the oil with star anise, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks. What a brilliant idea!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Warm them gently on low heat for 10 minutes. It's that easy!
The aroma was just wonderful!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Strain it after 10 minutes and let it cool.

Making the Hollandaise with Ingredients C

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Making the Hollandaise sauce was also very easy.
Egg yolks, butter and lemon juice!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Chef Ming taught us the easiest way to separate egg white and egg yolks. Use two bowls and a spoon!

Some of you, like me, use egg shells to separate them. That way is more accident prone. The sharp ends of the shell usually prick the egg yolks. Using a spoon is the easiest. This is especially so if you are baking and need to separate say 20 eggs!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

What a nice egg yolk.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

4 egg yolks. Gently whisk them.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Then add in the butter that has been infused with the aromatics.
Drip in the butter bit by bit. You might not need it all.
Next, add in the lemon juice, some salt.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

Continue to whisk it till it looks something like the above. It's hard work if you do it by hand like how we did it!  The easiest way is to put everything in a blender and blend for around 15 seconds. ;-)

Add in some chopped parsley and there you have, Hollandaise Sauce.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

The thawed mahi-mahi that the whole class was going to cook!
If you can't get mahi-mahi, you can substitute it with other fish like mackarel.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

To get nice colour when you fry your fish, and also to prevent oil from splashing, pat dry the fish fillet before frying!

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

As it cooks, lightly season it with salt and pepper.

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

There you go, the dish after being plated!
Looks good?

Fairprice Finest Cooking Workshop @ ToTT Store

The kind folks at FairPrice Finest provided Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 2006. I heard it's not cheap and the other participants who was at the cooking class said it was really good.

If you want to find out what's going on at FairPrice Finest and what's on offer, here's a good website to visit. http://www.WhatsUpAtFairprice.com.sg

It lists out the current offers and you can see "Heavenly Pairings Of Wine And Seafood" that is available from 12 - 25 May 2011.

Do you know that there are now 6 FairPrice Finest now in Singapore?
You can find them at Bukit Timah Plaza, Marine Parade Central, Triple One Somerset (Singapore Power Building behind Orchard Road), Serangoon Garden Village, Century Square - Tampines  and Thomson Plaza.

Do you also know that 70% of the items in FairPrice Finest are staples found in all FairPrice outlets at the SAME prices? The remaining 30% are cosmopolitan selection of premium and gourmet products sourced from all over the world.

[This post is brought to you courtesy of FairPrice Finest. The experience and thoughts are all Keropokman's.]

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Clementi Ave 5

This place was where we used to visit for some zi char food when the stall was still located in a coffee shop in Ghim Moh. It shifted away and we never knew where it went.

It was quite a coincidence when my uncle stopped for coffee at the coffee shop in Clementi Ave 5 (beside the Police Station) and recognise the zhi char lady. Around the same time, I got an email from the owner it had moved after it found them self on one of my previous blog post.

So, it looks like it's time to go back there for dinner. We has since gone back a few times and this was the most recent photos.

Here was what we ate:

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Flat Chicken with Fish Paste

Flat Chicken! They had the whole chicken de-boned, meat taken out and replaced with fish paste!

It's fish paste with chicken skin deep fried and served flattened. It looks like it requires quite a bit of work! How was the taste? We kind of like it! You imagine it to be roast/fried chicken and when you bite it, it's fish!

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Lotus Root Soup

We ordered two big servings of soup. Here's the lotus root and pork rib soup.
Decent but slightly salty soup.

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Veg dish

Our obligatory veggie dish. Kind of like the veggies of the day.
Simple and good, and it provided us our fibre.

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Fish Dish

The nyonya style curry fish head. The sauce was tasty and the fish was fresh.
Perfect for walloping up with hot rice!

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Fried Crayfish

This was the dish that we missed! Their cereal crayfish. (Mai Pian Hay Po).
Chunks of crayfish yanked out of the shell and deep fried and topped and mixed with cereal.

The perfect dish for lazy folks like us, the best way to eat crayfish! It is also so good! Beats prawns anytime!

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant - Yam Ring

The ladies at home love yam ring. The outer yam ring was light and fluffy. The inner part of the ring was moist but too oily too. Nice crunch on the outside and soft yam texture inside.

Oh yes, we love to pick on the 'treasures' inside. I like the fried cashews!
Their prices are quite reasonable and portions big too.

It gets a bit busy on weekends, so you got to wait a while, but week nights are OK if you need to meet up with friends or relatives for a zhi-char makan.

Ban Tong Seafood Restaurant
(At the coffeeshop beside the Clementi Police Station)
Blk 378 Clementi Ave 5
Singapore 120378

Reservations: Ah Hioh at 9047 9428
(We realise if you want to make reservations, call before 6PM, when they get busy, they have no time to pick up the phone!)

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paradise Seafood @ Senja-Cashew Community Centre

This was a family dinner in celebration of a member's birthday.

Our relatives invited us for dinner and it was quite a nice dinner at the newly opened Paradise Seafood @ Senja-Cashew Community Centre.

We were just there to enjoy the food and company. ;-) So I did not take notes of the name of the dishes, pardon me.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

This sambal-ish sotong dish was quite delicious. It was done just nice, it was not rubbery but just nice and the sauce and the okra, brinjals and tomato with it makes it quite addictive especially with fragrant white rice.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

Since it's a birthday, we had some birthday noodles. The dish was nicely executed, noodles were nice, not overcooked.

Due to some logistical issue, instead of the noodles, we remembered something else. The noodles were taken to the side to be portioned and served to us. Somehow, someone miscounted the people on the table and 1 person did not get served. Hmmm... It was then a mess when they wanted to collect back a few bowls to re-portion it. Oh well... But everyone on the table volunteered to share theirs anyway, so it was kind of solved.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

This was the black chicken soup. The soup had this nice colour and it was tasty. It must had been boiled long enough too.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

The soup was portioned at the side for us as well and the ingredients served to us on a plate.

Oh, another service lapse. We knew they just opened probably a week or so when we went there, so teething problems was expected. What happened? They got our orders wrong. We ordered black chicken soup, but we were served watercress soup. As the soup was served without ingredients, we only knew it was wrong when we tasted it. We told them and they were apologetic and took back the soup.

A few minutes later, a lady came to tell us the black chicken soup was sold out and if we would like watercress soup.  Our aunt sense something fishy. You know aunties have this sixth sense. She said are you sure? We placed our orders quite early. We all probably knew it can't be the kitchen's fault, this chain has been quite organise. We knew it's probably the person who took the order, which is you know who, the lady talking to us. Since it's sold out, we said no, we won't have the soup.

Guess what? Another lady came out from the kitchen and said they have our black chicken soup ready. Oh man, the lady was pawned by her colleague. LOL. We wanted to laugh, but held our laughter. See, aunties sixth sense is accurate right?

Anyway, the delicious and fragrant black chicken soup saved the day, we tried to forget about the incident and continue to enjoy our food.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

These prawn balls were very good too. Deep fried whole prawns coated with (I think it was) delicious salted yolk sauce. Really good, it was really good.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

This was an interesting dish. It's one of their tofu creation, but all of us nicknamed it the chinese tofu goreng. Fried tofu, with fried crispy 'you tiao' over tangy thai salad and sauce.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

This was our only vegetable dish. Claypot xiao bai cai with inoki mushrooms and other mushrooms. Our family are veggies people, so we loved the taste of it.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

We had a fish dish too. It's braised in soy sauce and it was quite OK.

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

Oh, they serve live oyster here too. We remember it being reasonably priced and the birthday girl wanted to have it. So it was ordered. Oyster anyone? ;-)

Paradise Seafood - Senja-Cashew Community Centre

I think everyone in the restaurant ordered this dish. Creamy butter crabs. It's on the big banner outside the restaurant, advertising their signature dish. Nice! The sauce was creamy and buttery. It was a change to the usual black pepper or chilli crabs. We all think they used quite of mayo in the sauce. It's kinda addictive.

Overall, we had a good meal, except for the service staff that was still quite new having served up some boo boos. They would have brushed up their service now since it's 2 or 3 weeks after.

Another reason we tried the place is because we got a flyer in our mailbox a few times before we visited and when you present the flyer, you get a discount. 

Paradise Seafood
Senja-Cashew Community Centre 
101 Bukit Panjang Road
Singapore 679910

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