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Miso Glazed Chicken Breast


(serves 2)
This is a great recipe that turns something healthy but boring like chicken breasts into something exciting and exotic. Miso with honey is great as a glaze and it also lets you stick on a layer of sesame seeds to provide that crispy crunch. Together they compensate for chicken breasts’ lack of skin. The recipe also comes with its own side dish which provides something wet to go with each mouthful of chicken.     
 

Ingredients Miso Glazed Chicken

  1. Chicken Breast (2 large halves)
  2. Potato (1 large)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Garlic (2 cloves)
  5. Miso
  6. White Sesame Seeds
  7. Sesame Oil
  8. Mustard
  9. Brandy
  10. Chicken Stock Cube

Preparation 

  1. Brine 2 large chicken breast halves for a minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Make a marinade out of 1T sesame oil, 2t miso, 1t honey and 1t brandy.
  3. Flush the brined breasts with water and marinate them in the marinade.
  4. Dissolve a chicken stock cube into 1 cup of hot water.
  5. Cut an onion into half rings and a large potato into 1/3 inch cubes. Pan fry the onion and potatoes in a few T of vegetable oil on low heat  until the onion begins to get translucent.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the pan together with 2t of crushed garlic,1t mustard and 0.5t of sugar. Continue to simmer on low until the pan is almost but not quite dry and drizzle on 1T of sesame oil, then turn off the fire.
  7. The simmering will take some time so in the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF)
  8. Grease a baking tray and position the chicken breasts in the centre of the tray. Spoon some left over marinade onto the chicken, carefully making sure none drips onto the tray. Sprinkle on 4T of white sesame seeds. Spoon a second round of marinade onto the chicken. Add any left over marinade into the simmering pan.
  9. Place the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. If the chicken breast is big, leave in the oven for a further 5 minutes after turning the heat off. In any case, when you notice the chicken begins to shrink, the fire must be turned off immediately.
  10. Serve the chicken breast using the onion and potatoes as a bed. Pour any drippings onto the plate as well, but not over the chicken.

Notes

  • The beauty here is that the miso marinade allows the sesame seeds to stick to the chicken while the sesame seeds allow a second round of marinade to go onto the chicken.
  • For information on brining chicken, refer to this page.
  • For information on Miso, refer to this page.
  • I cooked the carrots in the picture separately, so that’s why there is no mention of carrots in the recipe.
 
 

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Simple and Easy Lobster Thermidor, in a Ramekin


(serves 5)
My Lobster Thermidor recipe avoids the main pitfall of the traditional in-the-shell method; You can have your lobster meat nice and tender since you don’t have to cook it an extra time to first remove the meat from the shell. It is also simple and easy, you don’t have to worry about procuring whole fresh lobsters, halving them without breaking the shell, removing meat from the claw, serving an odd number of servings etc. In addition, you avoid the hassle of making a béchamel sauce. And it still tastes rich and creamy.

IngredientsLobster Thermidor

  1. Lobster Tails (2=300g)
  2. Mushrooms (100g)
  3. Onion (0.5)
  4. Mascarpone (200g)
  5. Emmental (100g)
  6. Parmesan (70g)
  7. White Wine (0.75 cups)
  8. Cooked Rice (2 cups)
  9. Garlic (3t)
  10. Butter
  11. Tarragon

Preparation 

  1. Boil 3/4 cups of long grain rice, this will become 2 cups when it is cooked.
  2. Fully defrost your raw lobster tails if they come frozen. Separate the meat from the shell. Cut the meat into bite sized morsels.
  3. In a bowl mix 20g of warm butter, 3t of crushed garlic, 0.5t of salt and 0.5t of white pepper. Add the lobster and mix well. Leave it to marinate while you do the next steps.
  4. If your cheese did not come grated, grate it now. In any case leave the cheese out to warm.
  5. Julienne half an onion into small bits and slice the mushrooms into thin slices. Pan fry the onions on low heat with a large knob of butter, adding the mushrooms once the onion begins to brown.
  6. When the mushrooms become limp turn up the heat and add 3/4 cup of white wine. I tend to use chardonnay for its woody flavour. Let the mixture boil and reduce for 1 minute.
  7. Turn off the fire. Add the Mascarpone to the pan and stir till it has melted. Next, gradually sprinkle on and stir in the grated emmental as you bring the mixture back to a low simmer. Finally sprinkle on two thirds of the parmesan. Turn off the fire as soon as the cheese has melted. Season with 0.5t salt, 0.5t sugar, 1t black pepper and 1T of tarragon.
  8. Preheat your oven to 200oC (390oF).
  9. Divide your cooked rice into 5 ramekins. Press the rice down lightly till it is flat, but do not compact it. Arrange the lobster meat on top of the rice.
  10. Spoon the cheese sauce evenly into the ramekins and sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top of each ramekin.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown spots begin to appear on the surface.

NotesThermidor in Ramekin

  • Make sure you let the emmental warm to room temperature before using it or it will separate into oily rubbery clumps.
  • You can use semi cooked orzo pasta if you are not used to cooking rice, but rice goes better with this dish. For more information on rice, refer to my White Rice Page.
  • The easiest way to separate the meat from the shell is to cut the shell in two lengthwise with a pair of scissors along the ‘spine’.
  • For alternative cheeses, refer to my Cheese Page.
  • Butter is essential to the taste of lobster thermidor, do not substitute with olive oil.
 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in French, Main Courses, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Spaghetti with Seafood in Miso Cream Sauce


(serves 3 full portions)
Spaghetti in Miso Cream is quite the quintessential Japanese pasta and is on the menu in family restaurant chains all over Japan. You will find the fusion-style dish a refreshing adaptation of the more traditional pasta sauces. This recipe is a special version of the dish with crustacean flavour infused into the miso cream. To accompany the pasta, I have used soft tender scallop slices and lightly cooked morsels of prawn.    
 

Ingredients Miso Pasta

  1. Scallops (8=150g)
  2. Large prawns (4=300g)
  3. Miso
  4. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  5. Sesame Oil (1/3 cup)
  6. Cream (100ml)
  7. Spaghetti (300g)
  8. Shredded Nori (Dried Seaweed)
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Honey
  11. Cognac

Preparation 

  1. Mix 4T of sesame oil with 0.5t salt, 1t coriander seed powder.
  2. Cut the heads off the prawns and stir fry the heads in a pot with a few dashes of oil and 2t of crushed garlic. Use a low flame and when the garlic begins to brown add 1.5 cups of water. Cut the heads up with a pair of scissors while they are in the pot and leave to simmer. You should end up with a rich red broth.
  3. Slice each scallop into 3 round slices.
  4. Shell and devein the prawns. Slice the prawns lengthwise into 2 and then into small pieces.
  5. Marinate both the scallop and prawn pieces with the salted sesame oil but in separate bowls.
  6. Mix together 2 heaped t of miso with 2t of crushed garlic. Fry this mixture in a pan with 3T of oil on low heat. After a minute, add 3T cognac and 1t honey.
  7. Slowly pour in 100 ml of cream and mash the miso till you get a nice even emulsion with no lumps. Pour in the prawn head stock through a strainer. Simmer down till you get a nice sauce and remove from heat.
  8. Put 300g of spaghetti into the pot of boiling water with 1t salt and a dash of oil.
  9. Reheat the sauce and when it is boiling add the prawn meat. When the prawn meat has curled, add the scallop slices and immediately turn off the fire. Mix well to make sure no scallop slices are stuck together and leave for a minute.
  10. By this time the pasta should be al dente. Strain and plate the spaghetti, and pour the sauce over it.
  11. Garnish with black pepper, some Nori and serve.

NotesPrawn Stock

  • If you want to go the extra mile, add Uni (raw sea urchin) together with the scallops into the pan in step 9. It is the Japanese equivalent of adding truffle shavings to a pasta.
  • The stock will not be red (see photo) or have a rich taste if you use small prawns or shrimp. The prawns have to be large, i.e. 4 per 300g. 
  • Most of the greyish stuff in the ‘spine’ of the prawn is roe. When deveining the prawn, you really only want to find and pull out the alimentary canal. 
  • You’ll notice I did not mention olive oil. The taste of miso is quite distinctive and will clash with the hint of olives. You’ll do better with a milder vegetable oil.
  • Reduce the amount of cream by half if you want a very light sauce.
  • For more information on Miso, refer to this page
 

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Oven Cooked Creole Jambalaya


(serves 12)
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish specific to the American South-east. If I’m not mistaken Jamabalay means Ham-Rice.  While some consider Jambalaya a spicy version of its cousin the Spanish Paella, I tend to think of it as a heavier meatier version, as is the way with all things American, and that’s the way I make mine, with lots of smoked or cured meat. I use a special extra ingredient, minced pork sausage filling, this flavours the rice really nicely. I also grill the chicken and seafood separately first, this flavours the fresh meats really nicely.      
 

Ingredients Jambalaya

  1. Clams in Shell (600g)
  2. Prawns (16 large)
  3. Scallops (6 Jumbo)
  4. Chicken Legs with Thigh (3)
  5. Smoked Pork Belly (400g)
  6. Breakfast Pork Sausages (400g)
  7. Chorizo Sausages (250g)
  8. Onion (2)
  9. Capsicum (2)
  10. Celery (2 cups, chopped)
  11. Chopped Tomatoes (1 can, 400g)
  12. Raw Jasmine Rice (4 cups)
  13. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  14. Whisky
  15. Cayenne Pepper
  16. Paprika
  17. Cumin
  18. Oregano
  19. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Boil 7 cups of water in a pot with one chicken stock cube. Cut the heads of your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Thrown the heads into the boiling stock pot and keep the stock simmering on a low flame.
  2. Shell and then devein the prawn bodies and cut into finger tip size pieces. Cut the scallops into similar sized pieces. Marinate together in a bowl using 0.5T paprika, 0.5T cumin, a pinch of salt and a dash of oil.
  3. In a second larger bowl rub 3 chicken legs with 1T paprika and 1T cumin and 1t of salt.
  4. Grill the chicken for 10 minutes and then the prawn and scallop for 5 minutes. Since the seafood cooks faster, you should not grill them together. Dissolve any left over marinade in hot stock and then pour the liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Dice 2 cups of celery, 2 onions and 2 capsicum (i.e. bell pepper).
  6. Soak and agitate the clams in a bucket of cold water. Strain and then throw the clams into the stock pot with 1/4 cup of whisky. Boil for a minute on high heat with the cover on before turning the fire off.
  7. Debone the cooled grilled chicken and cut it into bite-sized chunks. You can mix it with the seafood bits at this stage. The bones can go into the stock pot.4 Bowls of Pork
  8. Dice the smoked pork belly. Cut the lard portions into smaller pieces (10 o’clock) and the meat portions into larger cubes (8 o’clock). Slice the Chorizo into slices (4 o’clock). Remove the skin of the pork sausages (2 o’clock) and mix the filling with 1/2 cup of water to loosen it.
  9. Spoon 4T of vegetable oil into a large frying pan. Add the pork belly and Chorizo and fry on medium heat till the lard renders. Next, add the sausage filling as well and stir fry until the minced pork browns.
  10. Remove the meat. Reserve 4T of the flavoured oil leaving the rest in the pan. Stir fry the celery and onion in the same pan until they are limp. Then add 4 cups of jasmine rice (or another type of long grain) and stir fry for a further minute.
  11. Pour the contents of the pan into a large iron pot (i.e. Dutch oven) or large casserole dish. Add the prawn heads and clams (discard those that did not open). Add all the cooked meat and diced capsicum. Mix well.
  12. Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
  13. Reheat the stock and add 5 cups of boiling stock to the pot. Follow this with the can of diced tomatoes, 1T cayenne pepper, 1T oregano, 1T thyme, 1t salt, 1t sugar. Reheat the pot on the stove until is just begins to boil.
  14. Place the pot in the oven with cover on. After 45 minutes, check if the rice is cooked. If the jambalaya is already dry but the rice is still hard, sprinkle on 0.5 cups of boiling water and bake for a further 5-10 minutes. Check the rice deep under the surface. When the rice is perfect, allow it to rest inside the oven with the cover off.
  15. In the meanwhile, mix the reserved pork oil with the remaining stock in the same pan and boil down till it begins to thicken. Spoon this over your jambalaya and serve.

NotesJambalaya in pot

  • This is a recipe for a very large amount of food. You can halve the portions if you don’t have that many people. There shouldn’t be any scaling issues.
  • Between two pots of the same volume, use the one that is flatter. The Jambalaya will cook more evenly.
  • Why didn’t I just cook the jambalaya on the stove?
    Because there is a tendency for the bottom of the pot to burn. You can try that after you have perfected the oven method.
  • Why do we have to grill the chicken and seafood first?
    This is a great way to sear some flavour into them so they don’t taste like boiled meat. The high heat will also remove freezer taste and ensure the prawn does not get mushy, which tends to happen if it is cooked too slowly.
  • Why do we need to make the sauce at the end?
    The varieties of rice which can absorb the taste of the stock will go mushy if they are cooked with too much water. Adding the sauce after the rice is cooked is the best way to ensure the rice is fluffy and yet moist. 
  • Many recipes I have come across use equal parts of water and rice. Not sure what kind of rice they are using (instant?) but I find more water is required than rice.
  • Add more cayenne pepper if you like your jambalaya spicy.
  • I have made some substitutions. I used Chorizo as Andouille it is not easily found in many parts of the world. I also swapped scallops in for calamari as squid gets very hard when it is over cooked. If you can’t find smoked pork belly, use a brined ham hock or cubed pancetta (but not sliced bacon). 
  • I usually use capsicums of 2 different colours for a better visual impact.
 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Slow Cooked Beef Shank Kebabs


(serves 4)
This is a very unauthentic recipe for kebabs, but it is however a great way to cook stew-type cuts of beef without actually making a stew. Its actually more of a cross between shish kebab and boeuf bourguignon. I think of it more as a Provencal-style dish than Persian. We start out by making a stew in white wine and end up drying up the stew into a nice tasty glazing for the beef chunks.

Ingredients Beef Kebab

  1. Beef Shank (800g)
  2. Carrot (1 large)
  3. Eggplant (1 large)
  4. Garlic (12 cloves = 1 bulb)
  5. Mushrooms (200g)
  6. Shallots (8)
  7. White Wine (1 cup)
  8. Oxo Beef Cube
  9. Pesto
  10. Oregano
  11. Thyme
  12. flour

Preparation 

  1. Cut your beef into large cubes after removing any chunky bits of connective (white) tissue. Besides using beef shank, other appropriate cuts would be rib fingers, brisket or cheek. Lightly salt the beef.
  2. Preheat your over to 150oC (300oF). Dissolve1 Oxo beef cube in 1.25 cups of hot water.
  3. Peel an entire garlic bulb and put half the cloves through a press. Peel the shallots but keep them whole. Cut the carrots, mushrooms and egg plant into pieces of the appropriate size.
  4. Put the beef cubes into a zip loc bag with 2T(heaped) of flour. Shake the bag until all the surfaces are thoroughly coated.
  5. Heat up a pan with 3T of oil and lightly sear all the sides of the beef cubes. Do this a few pieces at a time.
  6. Place the seared beef into a large pyrex dish, followed by the cut vegetables around the meat. Sprinkle on 2T of oregano and 2T of thyme. If you really want to you can skewer everything on metal skewers first like real kebabs (except for the garlic).
  7. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of white wine. Add the beef stock. Add 2T of pesto and the crushed garlic. Cook for a minute. Pour over the beef and then cover the pyrex baking dish snugly with foil.
  8. Poke 3 small holes in the foil with a toothpick. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 40 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to dry up the liquid and give the beef a nice glaze.

Notes Kebab before oven

  • You may have noticed I did not skewer the kebabs. I usually skip this as its tedious to do the skewering and the un-skewering. 
  •  If you are having a real BBQ, you can throw your pre-cooked kebabs (skewered) over an open flame BBQ to get the charcoal flavour.  
  • If you have a Dutch oven like le Creuset you can use that instead of the pyrex dish. 
 

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Soya Sauce Braised Chicken


(serves 4)
Braising in soya sauce is one of the most basic Chinese cooking styles. My recipe is slightly modernized but its essentially the same Chicken In Soya Sauce that my mother used to cook for me when I was young. My ‘trick’ is to cook the chicken for only a short amount of time but have it soak in the braising liquid for a long time. The result is chicken that is really tender but still tasty. Its a great for to cook chicken if you don’t have an oven.   
 

Ingredients Soya Braised Chicken

  1. Chicken Leg with Thigh (4)
  2. Dark Soya Sauce (1/4 cup)
  3. Chinese Wine (1/4 cup)
  4. Onion (1)
  5. Maple Syrup
  6. Five Spice Powder
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Black Pepper

Optional Ingredients in photo

  1. Potatoes
  2. Bok Choi
  3. Egg
  4. Konnyaku Vermicelli (aka Shirataki)

Preparation 

  1. Defrost the chicken completely and pad dry with kitchen towels. Trim off any visible chunks of fat on the the thigh with a pair of scissors. The skin tends to shrink so leave any excess skin on.
  2. Marinate the chicken in 4T of maple syrup.
  3. Prepare your optional ingredients (see notes below) at this stage. If they require more than 7 minutes of cooking time, par-boil them for a while, otherwise, just cut them to the right size.
  4. Next, cut an onion into thick rings. Choose a pot which the chicken will fit snugly in a single layer. Stir fry the onions in the pot with 3T of vegetable oil over a very low flame.
  5. After the onion becomes soft and starts to caramelize, this will take some time, mix 1/4 cup dark soya sauce, 1/4 cup Chinese wine with 1 cup water and add this to the pot.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring to a strong boil. Add 1 heaped T of sugar, 1T five spice powder, 1T nutmeg and 1T black pepper.
  7. Arrange the chicken legs nicely into the boiling pot upside down and pour in all the left over maple syrup marinade. Top up with the optional ingredients to bring up the level of the liquid. Ensure the chicken is fully submerged. The vegetables don’t need to be completely covered as the liquid will be splashing about as it boils.
  8. Boil the chicken for exactly seven minutes. Leave the pot uncovered so the liquid can thicken and place the cover on only for the last 30 seconds. After turning the fire off, leave the pot covered for several hours, preferably overnight. This is the part where the flavour soaks into the chicken.
  9. You don’t want the meat to be overcooked, so remove the chicken first when reheating. When the braising liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat off before putting the chicken legs back in the pot. Give the chicken 5 min to warm up before serving.

Notes

  • You can swap in or add all kinds of other flavours to the soya sauce at step 6 depending on your preference, for example ginger slices, cinnamon, cloves.
  • There are many optional ingredients you can add to the pot with your chicken, just remember they must be of a type that does not adsorb too much flavour. For the photo I used potatoes, bok choy and shirataki, a yam based vermicelli which is already mostly water. Other possible options are chestnuts, yam and any kind of leafy vegetables.
  • If you don’t have Chinese wine, try sherry. My favourite for this recipe is actually sake. Do not skip the alcohol as it is needed to mellow out the soya sauce. It will evaporate anyway.
  • If you are using chicken breast meat, consider brining it first.
  • There will be lots of chicken-flavoured braising liquid left over. It is very useful. You can use it to braise additional vegetables that cannot be left in the braising liquid overnight, like eggplant, carrots, mushrooms. You can also use them to marinate boiled eggs (as in picture), as a BBQ marinade, to fry noodles etc. If you strain the liquid before storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge, it can easily last a fortnight (it should congeal into a gel).  
 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Singapore Chinese Pork Curry


(serves 6)
Singapore Chinese Curry is a culinary relic of the British colonial era in Singapore. Many of the British officers had previously been stationed in India and developed a taste for curry. The British Army in Singapore however had to rely on Chinese cooks who out of neccesity concocted their own curry recipes. The result was the unique Singapore Chinese Curry which contains many common items of South-east Asian cuisine. In such curries you’ll find strange ingredients such as pork, dried shrimp, bean curd and cabbage. If you are a fan of curry, this is definitely a novel curry variety you must try. 
IngredientsChinese Curry

  1. Pork Spare Ribs (1 kg)
  2. Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy (1x400ml can)
  3. Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices (1x140g can)
  4. Cabbage (1 smallish)
  5. Egg Plant (2)
  6. Fried Bean Curd Puffs (2 cups)
  7. Fishcake or Fishballs (200g)
  8. Minced Garlic (2T)
  9. Glass Vermicelli (50g dry weight)
  10. Coconut Milk (200ml)
  11. Five Spice Powder
  12. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)

Preparation

  1. Open the two cans of curry into a large pot. Add 1kg of raw pork ribs and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes in 2 cups of water and stir in 2T of minced garlic and 1t sugar. Add the stock to the pot and heat to a low simmer.
  3. Sprinkle in 1T of five spice powder and simmer for an hour. Top up with water as neccesary.
  4. While the curry is simmering, cut the egg plants into strips 2 inches long and add them to the pot. The egg plant will disintegrate eventually leaving just the skin. This is intended.
  5. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 7 minutes and then drain away the water.
  6. Cut your cabbage into quadrants and manually break the quadrants into individual leaves.
  7. About 15 minutes before serving, add the cabbage, fried bean curd pieces, fish cake, vermicelli and coconut milk.
  8. Continue to simmer until the cabbage is soft. Serve with steamed rice or egg noodles.
Ingredients

Bean Curd Puffs and Dried Vermicelli

 Notes

  • This recipe is pretty easy if you can get all the semi-prepared ingredients as they are listed. If not….
  • The spiced minced prawn is a key ingredient but unfortunately not that easy to find. You can order Yeo’s Minced Prawn in Spices from Amazon. One other option is to make your own. if you have access to a Chinese food store, buy some dried shrimp. Soak a cup of the shrimp in cold water for half an hour before mixing in half a chopped onion, 4T chili paste, 2T Oil, 1T Five Spice Powder and 1t sugar. Put the mixture in the blender for a few seconds and then finish off by frying in a pan.   
  • Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy is a bit more commonly found than their minced prawn. It too is available on Amazon if you can’t find it anywhere else. Ironically, the one place you can’t find it is in Singapore. 
  • The other uncommon ingredient is fried bean curd (aka tofu) puffs. You cannot use raw tofu because it will disintegrate completely. If you can’t find any bean curd puffs in your local supermarket, you can make some yourself. Wrap a tofu block in kitchen towels and then sandwich it between 2 hard cutting boards. Progressively add canned food on the upper board over half an hour to compress the tofu and squeeze out its water. Next, cut into small blocks and deep fry as you would french fries.
  • Take note that the vermicelli to be used is the glass type (white when raw) which doesn’t get mushy even if it is cooked for quite a while. When in doubt, the ones to get are those made in Thailand.
  • If you like your curry less spicy, increase the amount of coconut milk to 300ml.
  • For additional flavour, add a tin of smoked clams at step 3. 
  • There is another similar style of SIngapore curry known as Nonya Curry. That is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine while this is a fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisine. The two should not be confused. 
 

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