I am still mildly amused when people in the other parts of the world ask me about the winter weather in Singapore. So I guess, as well known as we would think this little red dot on the world map is, there is still very little understanding about the country... at least nobody will wonder about winter in Hawaii, for example. (however, we do have many proud attributes that have been associated with us... I can roll out the list in a heartbeat but that's for another occassion.)
We do not have the priviledge to experience the wonders of changing seasons. Day in day out, we are bathed in warm summery humidity with spurts of showers and rain storm thrown in for a good tropical measure. Compared to our friends living in temperate zones with distinct seasonal weather changes, we really ought to have less wardrobe woes. However, most of us will still have a section in our wardrobe where we have our fair share of sweaters, throw-overs, shawls and jackets...technically irrelevant garment pieces for our weather where temperature averages around 30 degrees celsius and rarely dips below 25 degrees celsius. Ironically, these apparently irrelevant pieces of warm clothing have become indispensable in our tropical climate- not to protect us against natural weather conditions but against air-conditioned interiors such as offices, department stores, cars, trains and of course our own bedrooms - (where I use a down feather quilt blanket... whatever for? you may ask... well....) where temperature can be a chilly 17 degrees celsius.
The weather in Singapore has been scorchingly hot for the last 2 weeks. Interspersing this with sudden quick showers and running in and out of chilly air-conditioned rooms, I fell ill with a stubborn cough and sore throat that just refused to heal.
It is during these times, that I yearn for something comforting and warm for my meals. For 3 consecutive nights, I had white rice porridge for dinner. The soft soupy rice is easy to swallow and easy to digest. Paired with slightly salty savoury dishes, this has traditionally been the most economical and homely way to serve a meal. The dishes that are served with white rice porridge are traditionally very humble food like preserved salted eggs, pickled vegetables, fried tofu with bean sprouts and fried omelette with pickled radish.
The steamed minced pork patty is possibly one of the more luxurious accompaniments to white rice porridge in my parents' time. I believe every family has their own steamed minced pork patty recipe. This recipe featured in Singapore celebrity chef, Sam Leong's A Taste Of Home, is titled 'My Grandmother's Steamed Minced Pork Petites with Salted Egg Yolk'. Compared to my mother's version, Sam Leong's Grandmother's patty has more depth and dimension - thanks to the addition of minced coriander stems which gives the dish a subtle punch. The chopped water chestnuts also gave this otherwise meaty patty a refreshing crunch. Served with the homemade soy sauce, this becomes an addictive dish perfect with rice or porridge.
Recipe (From Sam Leong's A Taste Of Home)
Minced Pork shoulder 400g ( do not use lean minced pork as this would yield a tough and dry patty)
Minced Pork fat 1 tbsp
Coriander stems 30g minced
Water chestnuts 3 peeled and minced
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Light soya sauce 2 tsp
Egg white 1
Ground pepper Pinch
Sesame oil dash
Corn oil to coat cups/bowl
Salted egg yolk 4
Homemade soya sauce 200ml
Spring onion 1 minced
1. Combine all ingredietns except for corn oil and salted egg yolks, homemade soya sauce and spring onions, in a mixing bowl and mix well.
2. Apply some corn oil on the inside of 4 small ramekins or pudding molds. Put a salted egg yolk inside each mold/ramekin. Fill the mold with minced meat mixture from (1).
3. Steam the minced meat in a steammer for 40mins or until minced pork is cooked.
4. Turn molds over into a serving plate and the meat will slide out. Serve with homemade soya sauce and garnish with chopped spring onion.
Homemade Soya Sauce
Cooking oil 1/2 tbsp
Ginger 2 slices
Spring Onion 1 cut into short lengths
Coriander leaves 2 sprigs
Chicken stock 100ml
Light soya sauce 1 tbsp
Dark soya sauce dash
Rock sugar 10g
1. Heat the cooking oil in a hot wok.
2. Fry ginger and spring onion until fragrant.
3. Add the rest of the ingredient and cook until sugar is all melted and mixture just begins to boil.
4. Cool down and store in fridge.