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Foodie Mama: What to Eat, Cook, and Snack on this May

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Want to find the freshest ingredients or need some snack inspiration? Check out Foodie Mama’s monthly catch up for May!

This month’s foodie news covers fishy facts, popcorn makers and tempting tonics for a Friday night in…

Foodie Mama’s Favourite Fishy Finds

With the WWF recently calling for the ‘public’ to be to be more active in stemming the increase of unsustainable fish being sold in Singapore, it’s good to be reminded of where you can buy sustainably sourced fish and which fish to avoid, due to them being endangered. The WWF have put together the Singapore Seafood Guide, which is a great resource to help choose which fish to buy and which to avoid.

Be brave! It’s good to be flexible when buying fish in Singapore. Try new types and remember to ask the fishmonger where the fish came from and whether it is sustainably caught (or take the above guide with you!). Most fishmongers are very happy to fillet and clean fish for you as well.

Look for firm fish with shiny skin and bright eyes and scales. I love visiting the wet market fish stalls at Tiong Bharu (NB currently closed for renovations, but scheduled to re-open on 19 May. Hurray!). An early Saturday morning wander is both exciting and excellent value! But you do need to be aware that it’s less easy to ascertain if the fish are on the safe list, so ask before you buy!

For assured safe buys try one of the following:

For a family favouriteSasha’s Fine Foods sell New Zealand Blue Cod fillets, which are line or pot caught. A great healthy option and versatile enough to simply cook and serve with veggies, make into fish cakes or transform into a creamy fish pie.

For house-smoked fish Greenwood Fish Market sells cold and hot smoked fish. The salmon is sustainably caught and is smoked on the premises. They also sell sea lavender and samphire – two salty costal grown greens that are perfect for sautéing and serving with your fish.

For something different – Ever heard of Toothfish? As well as some of the tastiest salmon in Singapore, The Fishwives also sell less well-known Patagonian Toothfish fillets and they are absolutely delicious! All they need is baking in the oven with some butter, salt and pepper as the flavour is fabulous.

For local – Straits Market deliver Friends of the Sea Certified sustainably farmed, hormone and antibiotic free barramundi and snapper, available whole or as fillets, and farmed in Singapore. Their ocean farm creates clean salt water through natural filtration.

Healthier Popcorn

My kids are crazy about traditions in our home — from Sunday ‘grown up supper’ (which always has to feature a roast, a pudding and candles), to Friday night ‘movie night’ with the obligatory bowl of popcorn.

In a bid to avoid additives, we make our own. A lidded pan is one way but it’s not the safest when the children are all desperate to witness the popping as closely as possible. I have just found a lidded popcorn-making bowl that pops away in the microwave. My 7- and 9-year-old love that they can finally make popcorn themselves! Try the recipe below from my cookbook Grains are Good (Kyle Books, available in Singapore, photographs by Jonathan Gregson).

It’s not the healthiest, but a small bowl in front of a film is the perfect Friday night treat! Tag me on instagram (@ghillie.james); posting a photograph of your movie night popcorn party and the winner can take home a copy of my book.

Sticky Salted Caramel Popcorn

  • Makes 4 generous cups of popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 4 tablespoons (50g) yellow popping corn
  • 4 tablespoons (75g) caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 3 pinches of sea salt or 1 tablespoon salted peanuts, roughly crushed (optional)
  • First, make the popcorn. Heat the oil in a lidded saucepan, add the corn and put on the lid.
  • Heat, shaking the pan every so often, and wait for the popping to begin.
  • Keep the lid on and shake until nearly all the corn has popped, then set to one side.
  • Put the sugar into a saucepan and gently heat with 1 tablespoonful of water until the sugar
  • has melted (do not stir, just swirl the pan if you need to combine the mixture).
  • Raise the heat, bring up to the boil and bubble for 2 minutes or until the syrup has turned a pale golden colour.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • To make the caramel, add the butter and salt (if using peanuts, add these to the popcorn just before you pour in the caramel) and beat for a minute or until the butter has combined with the syrup and thickened a little.
  • Pour the caramel over the popcorn and quickly stir together using two spoons until it is all spread onto a tray and break up the clumps, then cool for a few minutes until hardened and ready to serve.Variation: Banana and peanut popcorn sundaes:
  • Make the popcorn as above, but stir in a handful of roughly crushed peanuts or pecans to the popcorn, just before tipping in the caramel sauce. Scoop ice cream into bowls or glasses, layering with sliced banana and topping with a pile of the popcorn. Serve.

New Foodie Find

Check out the new shop within COMO’s growing empire in Dempsey. After a quick whistle-stop tour of the sauces, snacks and condiments aisles I found myself buying a beautiful box of honey biscuits to give a friend, a high quality bottle of sesame oil and a jar of chilli jam. A great stop off to take visiting guests who want to take a few bits home, or to stock up your store cupboard. Don’t forget to sneak in a refreshing cocktail at the Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar on your way out – all that shopping can make a mama thirsty! 

Cookbook Challenge

This month I’m cooking from..

Malaysia – Recipes from a Family Kitchen by Ping Coombes (published by Weldon Owen).

This is an essential if you live in Singapore and love local food, plus it’s a beautiful book with a fuschia pink fabric cover. From Prawn Char Kway Teow to congee to Chilli Crab, it’s got all the recipes that you need to recreate your favourite hawker dishes at home. We made Captains Chicken Curry the other night, with a couple of amends as I didn’t have the dried chillies (used chilli powder) or the macadamias (used cashews), and it really was one of the best curries I’ve tasted in a long time.

Who Knew Tonics Could Taste So Different?

I’ve always been a Schweppes girl, but working closely with the dynamic Providore drinks team, they soon showed me that the mixer is as important as the spirit it’s going with (and not forgetting plenty of ice!).

Now my Friday night gin is mixed with a bottle of Burmese East Imperial tonic, which not only looks a whole load more classy, but tastes incredible and really does take your weekend up a notch! All I need then is a bowl of cashew nuts and I’m in heaven! I know…easy to please! East Imperial is $2.00 a bottle from The Providore or Redmart. They also sell grapefruit-infused tonic, too!

Lessons We Love – Yum Cha!

Head chef Jimmy Wong of legendary China Town restaurant Yum Cha is now offering 3-hour dim sum master classes to show you the secret of Siew Mai, Prawn Wantons and more. You can sign up for May classes on Eventbrite.

Lead image sourced via The Fishwives Fine Food Emporium courtesy of Not Quite Nigella

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