In the food paradise that we live in, it’s tempting to step outside of the house and eat out. After all, kopitiams and hawker centres are a dime a dozen in Singapore, popping up even in the most ulu corners of suburban estates.
But while hawker food is pretty affordable, the fact is that food prices don’t stay stagnant. According to the Department of Statistics, food prices have gone up by 2% between the start of 2016 and this year. More urgently, as the water price hike looms over hawkers, it remains to be seen if your favourite dishes will cost the same in the coming months. That makes it a good time to start picking up skills in the kitchen and learn how to whip up some of these coffeeshop favourites right at home:
1. Oyster omelette or orh luak
You have probably bought a $6 plate of orh luak for everyone at the coffeeshop table to share at least once before. Now save your money and impress your family members with this recipe that serves three to four:
- 2 tbsp of sweet potato or tapioca flour
- 2 tbsp of rice flour
- 125 ml of water
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tbsp of light soya sauce
- 2 tbsps of hua tiao wine
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 to 8 large oysters
- Sprigs of coriander for garnish
- Wash the oysters under the tap. Drain and set aside.
- Mix together the rice and tapioca flour and water to make a batter.
- Heat up oil in pan to smoking point.
- When the pan starts smoking, pour in your batter and let it cook until crispy.
- Pour your egg mixture over the batter. You can add an extra egg or two if you prefer your orh luak to have more egg than starch.
- Add your seasoning and mix everything together.
- Flip the omelette over to make sure both sides get brown and crispy.
- Push the omelette aside in the pan and stir-fry the oysters briefly for about 30 seconds.
- Mix it all together and take it off the heat.
- Garnish with coriander and serve.
2. 3-egg Spinach Soup
No need to spend money at the zi char stall to get your fix of this flavourful dish any longer. This recipe works great to serve up a soupy dish to a family of four or five:
Prepare these ingredients:
- 250 g of Chinese spinach
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- ½ cup of water
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped into slivers
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- 2 tbsp of wolfberries or gou qi zi
- 1 to 2 century eggs, cleaned and diced
- 2 salted eggs, cooked and sliced into quarters
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp of sugar (optional)
- A dash of white pepper (optional)
Thickening sauce ingredients:
- 1 tbsp of corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water
- ½ tbsp. of hua tiao or shaoxing wine
- Wash your spinach and remove fibrous layer from the stalks. Drain. Separate the stalks and leaves and set them aside.
- Saute the garlic slivers in oil in a pan until fragrant.
- Add the spinach stalks and stir-fry for a minute.
- Add chicken stock and wolfberries to the pan. Bring the mixture to the boil and let it cook for 1 minute.
- Add sugar and stir the mixture to ensure it dissolves.
- Add the diced century eggs and salted eggs, cover the pan and let the mixture boil for 2 minute.
- Take off the cover and add the remaining spinach leaves.
- Stir in the thickening sauce. Add more water if the soup is too thick or salty for your liking.
- Cover and boil for 1 minute.
- Take off the cover, add the beaten egg and stir.
- Add the sesame oil and your choice of cooking wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Add a dash of white pepper before serving.
3. Mango and pomelo sago dessert
This dish is more popularly known as a Hong Kong dessert, but you can find it in local hawker centres too! Skip the post-dinner dessert trip out and serve this to your family instead on a balmy night:
- 4 mangoes, diced
- ½ to 1 cup of mango juice or water
- 3 pomelo wedges, separated loosely into chunks of pulp
- 1 cup of ice cubes
- 3 tbsp of sago pearls
- 2 tbsp of sugar or sugar syrup to taste
- 200 ml of coconut milk
- Boil your sago pearls for 10 minutes. Stir constantly to discourage clumping.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and set aside for 10 minutes to let the remaining heat cook the pearls.
- Rinse the pearls under the tap for a minute and strain.
- Set aside a quarter of your mango cubes. Blend the rest of the diced mango with ice cubes and coconut milk into a puree. Add mango juice or water if the mixture seems too thick.
- Pour the mixture out into a serving bowl and add the cooked sago balls.
- Stir in sugar syrup or mixture to taste.
- Chill mixture for an hour or until cold. Add mango cubes and pomelo pulp and stir before serving. If your sweet tooth is raging, add a dollop of vanilla ice-cream!
In case you’re worried about the cost of groceries, don’t! You might already have the right set of credit cards for groceries in your purse to help you allay such expenses. If you’re an NTUC Plus! Member already, apply for the NTUC Plus Credit Card to earn 12% rebate when you buy groceries at NTUC FairPrice supermarkets. If your family prefers to shop at Sheng Siong, the POSB Everyday Card allows you to get cash rebate of up to 6% of purchases there!