Wednesday, July 7, 2010

5 levels of weird: Singapore foods you know you should try

Sorry for the hiatus folks, have been so sick to my stomach, puking like mad and can barely do anything at all for the past weeks.. Now that I'm better, finally get to browse around my favourite sites and soak up all the news and happenings that I've missed! and yes, I have been that sick till I cant even surf the net. :P

Anyway, talking about puke, I found this article very very interesting or maybe a little yucky. For those of you who ummmm... can't stomach weird/odd/bizzare food (which I personally not a fan of weird food too), well, do skip this blog entry. :P

Give the fried noodles and chicken rice a rest and expand your gastronomic horizons with some 'delicacies' from the stranger side of Singapore's foodie character. We start with the plain uncommon, moving through unusual and end at the downright bizarre.

1. Kacang pool/phool or fhoul

This is the Southeast-Asian rendition of the Middle-Eastern dish ful medammas. The version here has beef mince mixed with pureed and chopped beans (primarily fava or broad beans) seasoned with local spices and bathed in a sauce that's much like satay peanut sauce. Toppings include chopped onions, sliced green chilies, and an egg, sunny side up. Squeeze some lime over it, break the egg yolk and mix. Mop it all up with warm, toasty baguette slices.

An Arab family runs Fhoul Madinah Istimewa Original Kacang Pool at 1 Geylang Serai, @02-114 Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre. Mamu's Kitchen at Block 1 Bedok Road, Stall no. 26 Bedok Food Centre, also does a mean and hearty version.

2. Fuzhou UFOs (oyster cakes)

These fritters are nicknamed UFOs because they resemble little flying saucers. Anthony Bourdain describes these as “deep-fried Foochow-style beignet of oysters, minced pork, prawns and batter” that are “pure goodness”. Best eaten fresh with some chili sauce and washed down with a cold glass of sugar cane juice. Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake has been selling these little treats for over 50 years. They proudly display Bourdain’s photo and an excerpt from his book "The Nasty Bits" describing how he enjoyed the snack. Find them at Maxwell Road, #01-05 Maxwell Food Centre (Tel: +65 9344 1296).

3. Eel skin crisps

If you didn't know what these were made of, you'd probably think they were great fish crackers. But the remarkable crunch comes from the delicate skin of eels. Some menus list them simply as “deep-fried fish skin”. They are increasingly popular in Chinese cze-char (cook and fry) restaurants as an appetiser, and they are often served with a savory soy-based dip. The skin still stays fairly crisp even when drenched in the broth. Be warned, these crisps are dangerously addictive, and the fact you’re chomping on the skin of eels will quickly be forgotten. Until you finish.

Ask for it at casual Cantonese eateries Sha Tin Kitchen, 10B Lorong 3 Geylang (Tel: +65 6747 2483) or Wo Peng at 476/478 Macpherson Road (Tel: +65 6747 9892).

4. Steamed shark head

Basically throwing anything away is a waste, so some restaurateurs made a dish out of the normally inedible gelatinous shark head. There's no meat on the cone-shaped bone, except for gelatinous shark cartilage and some fat, but that very texture is what is coveted by aficionados. A lightly sweetened soy-sesame sauce is all that's needed to season the dish, but some like it with more intense sauces.

Tian Jin Hai claims to have invented the dish in Singapore. They recently resurfaced at a stall at 70 Zion Road, Zion Riverside Food Centre #01-09 (Tel: +65 6385 7831). You can also get steamed shark head at the no-frills, retro restaurant Old Mother Hen at 136 Sims Avenue (Tel: +65 6841 8789).

5. Crocodile paws

Certainly not one for the squeamish. You really do get a whole crocodilian paw, claws, skin and all in your soup or claypot when you order this. It’s frighteningly huge. Once you summon the guts to sink your teeth into it, you’ll find the skin is soft, chewy and gelatinous like sea cucumber. But why would anyone want to eat this reptile? Well, oit is alleged that crocodile gives a whole host of health benefits like improving metabolism, vitality, immunity, and of course, the libido. And it tastes like chicken.

Cafe de Hong Kong (586 Balestier Road, #01-01 Eastpac Building. Tel: +65 6255 3865) does many familiar cze-char favorites well, but its lone exotic dish of braised crocodile paw always grabs patrons’ attention. You’ll need to give them notice at least one hour ahead for this special dish. There is also a stall called Crocodile Kingdom specializing in all dishes crocodile at Block 51 Old Airport Road #01-107 Old Airport Road Food Centre. Tel: +65 9240 0886.

Note: This article is extracted from CNNGo Singapore. :)

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