A Must Have ~ Condiments

It’s one of those unforgettable firsts.

When we are tall enough to reach the table, the youngest girl in my family is task with setting the dishes for dinner. Mother starts us first with the cutlery, then with the small porcelain plates that fit into the palms of small hands. These would be laid out, one for each diner.

The wonderful sauce plates!

Miss match sauce plates. Photo by Doris Lim

Oyster omelette with orange chilli dipping sauce. Photo by Doris Lim

Oh what treasures these  dainty plates would hold. Maybe it was pungent yellow mustard Mother squeezes from that yellow ochre bottle.  Or “Ah Moh Tau Eow” which is actually Lea and Perrin’s sauce with julienne red chillis and a touch of mustard.

American breakfast of back bacon, eggs and toast with big bike in background.
Photo by Doris Lim

We kids like tomato sauce or ketchup. The older boys fancy their chilli sauce. These are our condiments for an American breakfast of buttered toast, ham, sausages, “sunny side up” eggs and baked beans.

Our parents love their chilli sauce thick and full bodied and pungent with the smell of garlic. That was from a special bottle for eating baked crabs or steamed prawns in white wine. We kids eat our seafood with a dip in light soy sauce.

Dad’s daily condiment is mince raw garlic with light soy sauce. He eats this with his rice and dishes.

Firm family friends. Our bottles of Chilli Sauce. Photo by Doris Lim

Roast chicken with ginger garlic chilli dip. Photo by Doris Lim

Grandmother loves her oyster sauce condiment with her steamed chicken. The Hainanese chicken rice stalls have their dipping sauce of blended chillies, garlic and ginger to go with their steam or roast chicken.

Singapore style Roast chicken and "Sio Bak" Roast Pork Belly rice set, mustard green, "Sui Kow" with dipping chilli and sambal condiments. Photo by Doris Lim

“Xiao Long Bao” topped with prawns. Photo by Doris Lim

Eldest Uncle once took us to a Shanghainese restaurant and ordered steamed “Xiao Long Bao” or little  Shanghainese dumplings in small bamboo baskets. These “Xiao Long Bao” have pork filling with mince crab meat and roe. These are wrap in a thin skin with a little gelatine of cold soup, when steam, the soup becomes liquid.

The way to enjoy these dumplings is to carefully lift with your chopsticks and spoon, to bite a little off the top and suck out the sweet soup before eating the rest of the dumpling.

The condiment for this and is black vinegar and julienne young ginger.

"Wor Tip" with black vinegar ginger condiment. Photo by Doris Lim

Crispy "Sua Chooi" Fish with thin chille sweet sauce. Photo by Doris Lim

For fried fish, Mother sometimes prepares “Nam Soot” which is thinly sliced shallots, chilli padi, thick soy sauce, belacan powder, sugar, tamarind juice. Delightfully black and pungent with the fishy taste of belacan, this is perfect with deep fried crunchy small fish that one could eat with its bones, fins, tails and even heads.

Spring onion ginger condiment. Photo by June Lim

My favourite is spring onion and minced ginger condiment (姜蓉) which goes well with “Sio Bak” crunchy roast pork belly with crackling.

How to: You would need lots of green onions (about 2-3 bunches) and ginger (2-3 tsps. minced or freshly grated ginger). Mince or blend them finely in a food processor/blender. Add some olive oil to the green onions and ginger mixture. This lovely condiment will store well for a few days in air-tight container in the fridge.




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