Living the High Life in TTDI

I’ll spend a portion of each afternoon dreaming up the evening’s meal. By 4.30pm most afternoons, before tea break, I would have sent a text to Mike with a menu for that night’s dinner. A quick run to the grocery section to gather ingredients, after work.

Arriving home, I breeze through the front door; drop all my recycle bags on the kitchen counter. I’ll head to the dining room, living and balcony. Switch on lights, fan, and open the sliding doors. Water the plants, say hello to the fishes and feed them their dinner.

Turn on the TV to an audible volume and put the kettle to boil. Fill both sinks and plunge the greens in one and dunk the frozen zip-lock bags of meat to thaw in the other.
Photo by Doris Lim

I set the onions, shallots, garlic and ginger on the cutting board. A bulb here, two to three cloves and half an inch there. To slice thinly, to smash and mince and to julienne. All set aside to be used separately.

The mint, bunched with a rubber band at their roots are rinsed of soil and grime. A swift chop of my butcher’s knife severs all the roots. A deft pinch of one hand quickly slides off the leaves into a plastic colander. This is to be rinsed again and checked for wilted and bruised leaves to be discarded.
A few sharp shakes and left to drip dry on kitchen towel.

I measure out the rice and rinse the grains twice until the cloudy water turn clear and place my palm face down in the pot to top up with water. A knotted leaf of screw pine in and the rice is set in the rice cooker to bubble merrily.
 Photo via internet

Chicken thighs have thawed sufficiently. I normally finish it off by defrosting a minute in the microwave. Take these out, pat dry, score lines into the thickest parts and season with salt and pepper, a dash of Mirin, Lea & Perrins, some minced shallots, a little oil and a massage. A squeeze of a calamansi lime to help tenderise. I set these to broil covered in foil.

Mike like his birds, sweet, black and saucy so I prepare gravy with minced sauté garlic, a crumble of chicken stock cube, tomato sauce, good BBQ sauce, oyster sauce and thick sweet soy sauce thicken with tapioca starch. Set this aside to pour over later just before serving.

When the birds are done, I’ll grill them a little to caramelise the skin, a little crisp is a good thing.
Fish Belanda. Photo by Doris Lim
In a separate wok, I knock in 4 eggs to make tiny “hor pow tan” folded over bull’s eyes omelette with the yolks soft a tad runny inside. The sauce is sour sweet Eggs Belanda a favourite appetiser. Wilt slice garlic, onion rings, red and green chilli in hot oil. Add in half a cup of tamarind juice, sugar and salt to taste, bring this brine to a boil and slide in the eggs to heat through. Remove and keep warm.
Stir Fried Bitter Gourd. Photo by Doris Lim

A good detox veg is bitter gourd. I got a fat oblong shaped one from the green grocer and halve it to remove the seeds and slice it thinly. A large pinch of salt to marinade and a quick wash will remove some of the bitter. Squeeze out the excess water. Heat some oil, add in garlic cloves and knock in a salted duck’s egg to scramble. A quick stir fry to retain the crunch and seal in the colour. The salted eggs are creamy and take off the bitter but imparts a lovely fragrance.
Fresh Mint. Photo by Doris Lim 
The soup that Mike loves is arguably the easiest to prepare. Pound a handful of “hare bee” dried shrimp with shallots. Fry minced garlic and the shrimp paste until the sand like grains pop and blister. When fragrant, pour in the hot water and simmer with a few cracks of black pepper. The mint leaves are added just before serving so that it doesn’t wilt and brown but retains that bright green hue.
Mint Soup with Egg. Photo by Doris Lim

The menu with a little Atas description:
Long grain fragrant rice infused with screw pine
Braised Japanese style Chicken thighs with gravy boat
Moneybags Eggs Belanda
Salted Eggs with Bitter Gourd
Peppered Mint Soup
At the end of which, it goes to prove that this girl loves to cook.

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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