I went out for lunch with DC on a day I had a terrible craving for ramen. Added to that was the woe of my last visit to my ex-favourite Ken’s Ramen where I was served noodles reeking of ammonia. DC of course never fails to deliver. He took me to Menya Shinchan, an apparently well-known place that’s been around for a while. It has a wide selection of ramen stocks, from pork bone to dried sardine, and you can choose between a light and rich version. I went for the rich miso dried sardine one.
First, the toppings. Only the tiny slices of chashu stood out. They were tender and just the right amount of fatty, but such stingy portions! The noodles were excellent. I like them al dente with plenty of bite. These were very firm and bouncy. Excellent. The broth was intensely seafoody and a little fishy, I liked it. It wasn’t as rich as I expected and a bit saltier than I’m used to. I think “rich” here meant something like saltier and fishier, not rich in the sense of thick and almost unctuous like pork bone soup. It’s not bad, but still doesn’t qualify as the best ramen in Singapore.
I see fried rice as a way to use up leftovers yet not feel like I’m eating old stale food. When I cook rice, I always make sure to cook more so that if I ever want to make fried rice, day old rice is ready for frying. Don’t even bother trying this with fresh rice. It’ll just be soggy and spoil the texture.
Normally I like to start with some kind of rempah base, usually from a packet. A lot of times it’s tomyam or green curry. The day I made this, I ran out of my favourite green curry paste so I had to plump for some remnants of a pack of red curry paste. Other stuff languishing in the fridge were leftover tinned sardines in oil, a chunk of wong bok, a few limp red chillis, and some coriander. From the freezer came petit pois, chicken breast and kaffir lime leaves. Add to that some taupok and fresh lime and dinner is sorted.
3 tbsp oil
1 cup leftover rice
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped shallots
½ tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp red curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
4 chicken fillets, cubed
1 tinned sardine in oil, mashed
5 taupok, cubed
½ tbsp petit pois
5 red chillis, thickly sliced
fish sauce, to taste
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok and fluff the rice. Crack the eggs directly into the wok and toss in the rice. Wait a few seconds for the egg to set slightly then stir-fry the rice till it turns golden and the grains separate. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a wok and fry the garlic, shallot and ginger till fragrant. Add the red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves, keep frying till fragrant.
Add in the chicken and keep stirring. Just before the chicken is cooked, toss in the sardines, tauok, petit pois and chillis, stir for a bit more.
Finally, stir in the reserved eggy rice and season with fish sauce to taste.
Tanglin Curry Puff at Hong Lim Hawker Centre may well have the best curry puffs in the CBD area. The puffs are pretty huge. Flaky pastry, lots of potato, lovely chicken chunks and a slice of egg make this a worthwhile snack for only $1.20. My one grouse is that the pastry can be a tad oily, even though they claim to drain it very well, so well that they don’t provide paper to soak up the oil. Only plastic bags at this stall.
Here’s what it looks like the moment before entering the Jaws of Greed.
What sets this puff apart from the rest are the juicy chunks of chicken thigh in the filling. While there’s of course more potato than anything else in there, the chicken chunks are very moreish. I also liked the egg a lot, it’s a little treat, a diversion in the midst of the curry goodness.
They also do sardine and yam versions. I’m not keen on the sardine version because it’s very potato-y, I prefer the more traditional sardine, onion and tomato only filling. Even though I keep meaning to try the yam flavour, which is filled with sweet yam paste, I never get round to doing it. I always get too attracted to the chicken flavour!
By the time I got home last night, I’d almost perished of hunger. Grand plans for a laksa leaf-based chopped salad went out of the window. Even though I was so hungry I could’ve eaten my hand, I stubbornly refused to go the instant noodle route. Sticking to the laksa theme, I got this together in about 10 minutes. It’s simple, quick to prepare and incredibly tasty. (Or maybe I really was that hungry!) The proper version shall have to wait till later.
It’s a warm pasta salad of sorts, a very quick abbreviation of what I originally intended. Aesthetic considerations were tossed out of the window (see photo below). Proportions are even more approximate than usual because I mixed and tasted as I went along.
½ cup mini macaroni or any quick-cooking shape
1 fish from a tin of sardines in oil
2 tsp fish sauce
1 handful laksa leaves, roughly chopped
juice of ¼ lemon
1 red chilli, chopped
1 cake tau kwa, optional
Cook the pasta till al dente.
Mash the sardine and some oil from the tin in a serving dish, then toss in the cooked pasta.
Sprinkle the fish sauce on top and mix thoroughly, followed by the laksa leaves, lemon juice and chilli.
Stir and taste, adding more fish sauce or lemon juice as needed.
Either boil or sear the tau kwa on a grill pan, then cut into pieces and toss into pasta.