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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 Minced Prawn Sambal (2 x 140g cans)
  3. Cabbage (1 small head)
  4. Firm Tofu (2 standard blocks)
  5. Fried Bean Curd Puffs (2 cups)
  6. Fishcake or Fishballs (200g)
  7. Glass Vermicelli (50g dry weight)
  8. Coconut Milk (300ml)
  9. Chinese Wine
  10. Five Spice Powder
  11. Cumin
  12. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)

Preparation

  1. Begin by pressing the tofu as explained here. You cannot use soft tofu as it will completely disintegrate and disappear.
  2. Open the two cans of minced prawn sambal into a large pot. Add 1kg of raw pork ribs and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  3. Dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes and 1 t sugar in 2 cups of hot water. Add the stock, coconut milk and fish balls/cake to the pot and heat to a low simmer.
  4. Sprinkle in 1T of five spice powder and 1T of cumin and simmer for 90 minutes. Top up with water as necessary.
  5. Cut your cabbage into quadrants and manually break the quadrants into individual leaves. Cut the pressed tofu into large cubes, about 8 per block.
  6. Add the cabbage, fried bean curd puffs and pressed tofu cubes and simmer for about 15 minutes before turning off the heat.
  7. Before serving, soak the vermicelli in cold water for 7 minutes and then drain away the water. Bring the pot of curry to a simmer again add the vermicelli and 3T Chinese wine. Simmer for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. This dish is best served 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 a.k.a. prawn sambal is a key ingredient but unfortunately its not that easy to find in some parts of the world. 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.   
  • The other uncommon ingredient is fried bean curd (aka tofu) puffs, also known as Tau Pok in some Asian countries. If you can’t find any bean curd puffs in your local supermarket, you can make some yourself. Freeze then defrost 2 blocks of silken (i.e. not firm) tofu. Next dry and cube the resulting spongy tofu and then deep fry them as you would French fries.
  • Take note that the vermicelli to be used is the glass type (white when raw and transparent when cooked) 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.
  • For additional flavour, I often add a tin of smoked clams at step 3. Sometimes I also add some baby corn. Its a very flexible dish so experiment with any extra ingredients you fancy.
  • 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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Chicken Nasi Briyani


(serves 3)
Biryani originates from India and is one of the most popular rice dishes in Singapore and Malaysia, where it is known as known as Nasi Briyani. Regardless of whether spelt ‘Bir’ or ‘Bri’, you first cook meat curry and rice separately and then again together. In this version of Nasi Briyani, I employ the Chinese fried rice method for the together part. This way the rice is moist on the outside, yet remains fluffy on the inside. The perfect comfort food.   
 

Ingredients

  1. Curry Chicken
  2. Raw Basmati Rice (1/2 cup)
  3. Coriander (1 cup, chopped)
  4. Ginger (2t, grated)
  5. Turmeric
  6. Coriander Seed Powder

Pre-Preparation (Curry) 

  1. You will first need to prepare the curry according to my Singapore Curry Chicken recipe. Do this ahead of time.
  2. Take note, you won’t need the whole amount of the curry cooked with that recipe unless you are making a double version. You will also need to make a few simple modifications to the recipe:
    1. To create more chili oil, add 3T of vegetable oil (you need an oil with a mild taste so use canola or sunflower seed oil) before you start boiling.
    2. Skip the potatoes altogether.
  3. When the curry is done, skim 4T of chili oil from the top of your chicken curry and keep this in reserve.
  4. Extract and shred 2 chicken legs (with thighs) or their equivalent from the curry. Also measure 1.25 cups of curry (inclusive of onion bits) and pour this over the shredded chicken.

Pre-Preparation (Rice)

  1. You will also need to boil some turmeric flavoured rice, also ahead of time. If you don’t know how boil rice, refer to my White Rice Page.
  2. Start with half a cup of raw rice rice. You should use Basmati rice, and if you really can’t find some at least make sure you use a long grain variety –  if you don’t want the whole thing to turn to mush.
  3. After you have rinsed the rice and before you start cooking it, add 1/2 t of turmeric to the water. This makes the rice come out yellow.
  4. After the rice is cooked, allow it to cool in the open for an hour so it dries up.

Preperation

  1. Julienne your coriander in two portions. Cut the bottom one third (i.e. the stem part) of the coriander first. Then do the rest (i.e. the leafy part) and keep them seperate.
  2. Remove the skin from a thumb sized piece of ginger and grate it. You should end up with 2t of grated ginger.
  3. In a large non-stick pan, heat up 3T of vegetable oil (again, not olive oil). Pan fry the coriander stems and grated ginger on high heat till there is a strong aroma of ginger coming from the pan.
  4. Add the (cooled) turmeric rice to the pan. Douse the lumpy rice with the chili oil you skimmed earlier and then break up the clumps by pressing down on them gently with a flat implement. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, keeping the heat on high, until you see a bit of the rice browning.
  5. Pour in the chicken and curry. Continue to stir-fry to make sure every grain of rice comes into contact with the curry. When the curry begins to dry up, add most of the leafy coriander, sprinke on 1/2 t of sugar and 1t of coriander seed powder and turn the heat down. Continue to fry for a further minute and then remove from the flame.
  6. Taste and then sprinkle on salt to your satisfaction. Plate your Nasi Briyani and then garnish with the remaining coriander.

Notes

  • This is the maximum amount you can cook at one go on a normal flat 12 inch pan. If you try to cook more, you won’t have enough of a cooking surface to dry the curry. If you want to do a double portion, use a paella pan, wok or something of similar size.
  • Alternatively the traditional way to cook Briyani is to pour the curry over three quarters of your cooked rice, top up with the rest of the rice and cook to semi-dry.
  • If you didn’t notice, the Indian version is Biryani, the Malay version is Briyani. Quirk of transliteration from a century ago.
  • Some recipes also cook raisins and/or cashew nuts in the rice. You can consider adding these.
  • You can also use curry chicken from another source. The amount however will depend on the thickness of the curry sauce.
 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Singapore Curry Chicken


(serves 4)
Singapore Curry is of the heavy meaty variety. It is medium in terms of spiciness and uses only a modest amount of coconut milk. This combination reflects the influence of Chinese cooking. My recipe is a fast way to make the curry, as it makes use of a canned curry sauce in combination with fresh meat and vegetables.
It may sound like cheating but unless you want to spend days finding and then pounding, chopping, grinding dozens of uncommon ingredients, this is the best way. Besides, curry is one of those things which doesn’t get a metallic taste from being in a can 
 
Ingredients
  1. Chicken (800g)
  2. Curry Gravy (2 x 400ml cans)
  3. Potato (2)
  4. Onion (1)
  5. Cardamon
  6. Cumin
  7. Chicken Cube

Preparation

  1. The first thing to do is pour a third of your curry gravy into a pot and place your chicken meat in. Then pour the rest of the curry sauce over the chicken and allow it to marinate for at least an hour, but overnight for best results. I normally use dark meat but white meat will do as well.
  2. This recipe has this particular Curry Gravy in mind, but you can use another brand to your liking if you wish.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, peel your potatoes. These must be of a variety that is yellow inside. Cut them into pieces the size of half a kiwi fruit. Place them in a large bowl and pour boiling water in, followed by 2 minutes of microwave on high (or you can also just boil them in a pot for 5 minutes if you want).
  4. Cut the onion into 8 equal wedges.
  5. In a cup of hot water, smash a chicken cube. Stir in 1t of cardamon, 4t of cumin and 1t of sugar.
  6. When you chicken is done marinating, put it on a low simmer uncovered and add the cup of stock, and the onions and potatoes. You won’t have to stir that much at the beginning but after the onion falls to pieces, it will tend to get stuck at the bottom of the pot, then you’ll need to stir more often.
  7. Some of the surface of the potatos will disintegrate and you should end up with a thick flavoursome curry sauce. You shouldn’t need to add water but use your judgement. Cooking time is about 45 minutes, and a tell-tale sign of when it is done is when red oil from the chicken forms on the surface.

Notes

  • This chicken curry is ideal for making Chicken Nasi Briyani which can be found in this recipe.
  • This curry in my opinion is best served with rice, which is the way it is usually served in South-East Asian (and Japan for that matter). So prepare some ahead of time if you are in the habbit of cooking rice and possess a rice cooker.  
  • As a second choice I would pick roti or naan, which is what you’d do in Indian. You can buy frozen ones at most supermarkets. 
  •  As a last resort, french loaf is also an option, this is popular in Vietnam.
 
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Posted by on August 11, 2010 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Singapore Curry Gravy


 

Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy is the best way to make a curry dish for novices to South Indian or Southeast Asian cooking.  I normally wouldn’t recommend a product by brand but in this case, I think an exception is warranted. Besides its wonderful flavour and thick wholesome texture, it has one other special culinary merit. Unlike other curries in a can, it contains no meat and very little coconut, so you can use it as a base to build your own curry dishes.  Add chicken, and its a chicken curry, add lamb and it becomes a mutton curry.  It is the de facto way to make curry for students from Singapore and Malaysia going overseas for higher education. You can use my Singapore Curry Chicken recipe as a reference for how easy cooking curry is with this curry sauce.

This curry gravy is not designed with the mass western consumer market  in mind and is as authentic as you can get without whipping up a batch from scratch. It contains all the essential ingredients like coriander seed powder, turmeric, chili, pepper but more importantly other harder to find ingredients like  aniseed and candlenut.  I would consider this a medium curry, not too spicy. You can add chillies or chilli powder to make it more spicy, or add coconut milk to make it less spicy.

Besides using it to make curries by adding adding meat and vegetables, you can also use this gravy on is own. Try it with various indian breads like Roti or Naan, on drained instant noodles without the soup, as a dip for hor d’oeuvres, or even blended into cream of vegetable soups.  

Notes

  • Yeo’s Singapore Curry Gravy is not a rare specialty product, search on Google and you’ll get over a quater million hits. It comes in 250 ml and 400ml cans and is available at Amazon. com. I understand its available in Europe too, although it comes in a red can for some reason.
 
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Posted by on July 18, 2010 in Ingredients

 

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