Congrats, you’ve made it through a month of Singapore’s “circuit breaker” partial lockdown.
You’ve somehow managed to stay busy, keep the mind alert, limbs somewhat limber, and hair is charmingly disheveled. You may have been cooking a lot more than usual at home as the outside world seems like a scary place right now.
To help boost those home-cooking capabilities, we’ve asked some of Singapore’s best chefs to share original recipes that can be cooked at home during isolation. No prior technical skills and professional kitchen equipment required!
Give tired recipes a break and try these certified-yummy “quarantine recipes” which are sure to bring a little pizzazz to life in confinement.
Justin Quek: chef-owner of JustIN and Chinoiserie
Justin Quek is one of Asia’s most celebrated chefs. He has cooked birthday dinners for late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.
Here are two recipes Quek has shared.
Quarantine Dish #1: Singapore chili crab
100 gm Chili crab paste
200 ml Water
2 Live crabs (400-600 g)
80 gm Ketchup
120 gm Maggi chili sauce
30 ml Cooking oil
1 Egg, beaten
10 gm Corn starch (mixed with a little water to form thickening agent)
Shredded red chili, shredded spring onion, and coriander leaves.
- Cut the crab into pieces and crack the claws. Mix Simple Chef Chili Crab Paste with the water.
- Heat the wok to medium heat with some oil and fry the crab for two minutes. Add in the chili crab sauce, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the tomato ketchup and chili sauce to taste. Extinguish the fire, add in the beaten egg mixture, relight the fire and stir gently. Next, add in the corn starch until it reaches a good consistency.
- Garnish with red chili, spring onion, and coriander leaves. Serve with deep-fried mantou or rice.
Quarantine Dish #2: Baked fish with seafood sambal
125 gm JQ Simple Chef Seafood Sambal Paste (or similar paste)
1.5 kg Fresh sea bass fillets
3 Calamansi or lime
5 Banana leaves
2 Fresh ginger flower
2 Red onions – thinly sliced
50 gm Coriander leaves
50 gm Fresh mint leaves
Shredded red chili, shredded spring onion, and coriander leaves.
- Prepare the steamer. Ensure the steamer is at boiling temperature before placing the sea bass inside.
- Coat the entire fillet of seabass with the seafood sambal paste. The fillet is now ready to steam (there is no need to pre-marinate).
- Depending on the size of the fillets, steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Use a toothpick to insert through the thickest part of the fillet. If there is no resistance, that means the seabass is cooked.
- Squeeze the calamansi or lime over the fish before serving. Garnish with red chili, spring onion, and coriander leaves. Serve with steamed rice or salad.
Alternative cooking method:
- Lightly pan-fry the fish fillets on both sides.
- Coat the fish with the seafood sambal paste.
- Bake the fish in the oven in 200C heat for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove, garnish the fish and serve.
Eric Neo: executive chef of InterContinental Singapore
Remember Chef Eric Neo teaching contestants how to make Orh Luak (oyster omelette) on Channel 5’s Wok Stars in 2014? He appeared as a guest chef on the reality show and single-handedly inspired me to try and emulate the dish. (Emphasis on “try.”)
Here are the two recipes he shared.
Quarantine Dish #3: My grandmother’s style chicken curry
1.5 kg Whole chicken cut into parts
2 Lemongrass stalks
30 gm Fresh yellow ginger
30 gm Fresh blue ginger
100 gm Shallots
50 gm Garlic
250 gm Curry powder
4 Lime leaves
2 tsp Fine salt
1 tbsp Sugar
500 ml Coconut milk
- Blend garlic, shallots, blue ginger and yellow ginger into a paste and fry with oil in a pot under a small fire until fragrant.
- Add in the bruised lemongrass, lime leaves, and 100 milliliters of water. Bring to a small boil.
- Add in the chicken and seasoning
- Add the coconut milk and serve hot.
Quarantine Dish #4: Salmon satay with pineapple raisin salsa
500 gm Fresh salmon
4 Lemongrass stalks
1 tsp Coriander powder
1 Lemongrass stalk (just the white base)
3 Garlic cloves
4 tbsp Cooking oil
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
2 tsp Sweet soy sauce
1 tsp Oyster sauce
200 gm Ripe pineapple
80 gm Black and golden raisins
1 Red onion – finely chopped
4 Tomatoes – finely chopped
1 Coriander stalk – finely chopped
- Start by making the pineapple salsa. Dice the ingredients and mix them together, then chill the salsa in the fridge for an hour before serving.
- Cut the fresh salmon into slices and set aside.
- Grind the spice paste in a food processor. Add in a little water if needed.
- Marinate the salmon pieces with the spice paste for at least an hour.
- Grill for 1- 2 minutes on each side.
- Serve warm with the chilled pineapple raisins salsa.
Jason Tan: pioneer of ‘Gastro-Botanica’
Chef Jason Tan, formerly of the Corner House, makes art on a plate and is famed for his contemporary cuisine called “Gastro-Botanica,” in which fruit and vegetables are the main stars.
It earned the restaurant its Michelin-star in 2016 and secured its spot among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2015.
Quarantine Dish #5: 3 Cheese and Truffle ‘Bikini’
8 slices White bread
120 gm Cheddar cheese
120 gm Mozzarella cheese
4 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 kg White onions
A few drops of truffle oil
Blue Cheese Truffle Mixture:
150 gm Blue cheese
100 gm Black truffle pate (can be replaced with truffle oil)
A little Evaporated milk
- Mix all the ingredients for the blue cheese truffle mixture well and set aside.
- Slice onions thinly.
- Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat and add olive oil followed by onions.
- Caramelize the onions and season with salt and black pepper.
- Add a tiny amount of water to deglaze and get the bottom of the pan “clean.” Add more flavor to the caramelized onions. Once nicely caramelized, set aside to cool down.
- Take four slices of bread and spread unsalted butter on one side and mayonnaise on the other side.
- Top the mayonnaise with the caramelized onions, mozzarella, and cheddar.
- Take the remaining four slices of bread and spread unsalted butter on one side. Spread mayonnaise on the other.
- Spread the blue cheese truffle mixture on the mayonnaise and season with black pepper and a few drops of truffle oil.
- Places the sandwiches in the chiller for an hour.
- Pan fry the sandwich on a non-stick pan on low heat until golden brown on both sides.
ArChan Chan: executive chef of LeVel33
Chef ArChan is a beer wizard who turns hops, yeast, malt and spent grains into gourmet dishes with great prowess and originality. As executive chef of the microbrewery and restaurant LeVel33, she has developed her distinct style of cuisine which she calls ContemBrewery. (Say it fast!).
If needing a red meat fix, you will love Chef ArChan’s juicy contribution.
Quarantine Dish #6: Steak with black pepper and coke sauce
250g Steak – choose your preferred cut (ArChan’s favorite is the ribeye)
3 Garlic cloves – minced
½ White onion – diced (can be replaced with shallots)
2 Red chilli (optional)
1 tsp Butter (the higher butterfat content, the better)
1 tsp Ground black pepper
1 tsp Ground white pepper
4 tbsp Red wine
½ cup Stock (any flavour)
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Coke
- Take the meat out of the chiller. For a steak that is roughly 2 centimeters thick, leave it to thaw at room temperature for roughly 20 minutes.
- Before cooking, pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Season with salt flakes on both sides.
- Heat a pan on medium to medium-high heat. Sear both sides of the meat for one minute each. Repeat this step and leave the meat to rest for about four minutes. (This cook gives a medium to medium-rare doneness.)
- While the steak is resting, use the same pan to create the sauce.
- Turn the heat low and sauté garlic, chili and onions for 4 to 5 minutes or until slightly softened.
- Add black and white pepper and cook for another minute.
- Turn the heat up high for 10 seconds, then pour in the wine to deglaze. You should hear a sizzling sound now.
- When the wine has bubbled, add the stock. Once the stock has come to a rolling boil, turn the heat down and add the soy sauce and coke.
- Simmer for five minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Serve the steak immediately with the sauce at the side, and a little salad.
Patrick Heuberger: chef-owner of Atout
Atout (“trump card” or “asset” in French) is one of my favorite French restaurants ever. Surrounded by greenery, it has a relaxed classic bistro vibe and it’s not uncommon for Chef Patrick Heuberger, as busy as he is, to come out of the kitchen and say hi to diners.
Heuberger was born in Geneva, Switzerland and trained in France before coming to Singapore in 2001.
Quarantine Dish #7: Oven-Roasted Whole Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves & Onions (Poulet Aux 40 Gousses d’Ail, for those of you who want to learn French)
2 kg Whole chicken
250-350 gm Unsalted French butter
500 gm Garlic cloves (with skin)
1.5 kg Whole brown onions
Crushed Black Peppercorn
- Warm the oven to 220C.
- Prepare the chicken: remove the wings, neck and wishbone. Tie up with a butcher string.
- Peel the onions, wash and cut into petals.
- Warm up a pot that is big enough for the chicken and the oven. Turn the oven to high heat.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Add 150 grams to 200 grams of butter in the pot and wait until it turns brown.
- Add the chicken, breast facing down, and sear for about two minutes. Turn over the chicken with a meat fork.
- Add the onion petals, garlic cloves, remaining butter and fresh herbs.
- Place it into the hot oven for an hour. Open the oven door and spoon the juice and garnish over the chicken every 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, place it on a meat rack and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut up the chicken, place it on a dish and add garnish.
- To serve at a later time: Warm up in a hot oven at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes.
Tamara Chavez Lopez, Head Chef of TONO Cevicheria
For Mexican-born Tamara Chavez Lopez, food is a passion that runs in the family. As a child, she watched her grandmother cook up a storm at their popular, family-run restaurant.
Moving half-way across the world to Singapore in 2014, Lopez, who also studied in Peru, has been on a mission to bring the flavors and dishes of Latin America to this corner of the globe.
For this list, Lopez has recommended a wonderful yet simple Peruvian dish.
Quarantine Dish #8: Arroz Chaufa (Chaufa Rice)
2 cups Cooked rice
1 Small piece of ginger – peeled
2 pcs Spring onion
1 Red onion
5 Garlic cloves
2 Chili padi
4 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp Sesame oil
2 Eggs – scrambled and then roughly chopped
2 cups Meat or seafood (use whatever is available at home or whichever you prefer: pork, chicken, prawns, octopus)
- Chop the vegetables into small pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, spring onion and garlic.
- Cook for two minutes and add the meat.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and salt.
- Stir-fry the pre-cooked rice with the vegetables and season with the sauces. Add the egg.
Andy Lim: chef-owner of Le Chasseur
Judging by the name of the restaurant, which is French for “The Hunter,” you may think Chef Andy Lim cooks French food. You’re wrong, he actually specializes in Singaporean and Teochew cuisines and is most famous for his claypot rice and pigs trotters.
Most of his recipes are written in Chinese but thankfully his son Kenneth Lim has graciously translated this classic one for us.
Quarantine Dish #9: Pork trotter in black vinegar and ginger
Chef Andy chose this dish because it’s a one-pot dish which is easy to cook at home. He also says that it will “bring back the nostalgic flavor of past generations because people associate its taste with their mother or grandmother.”
This gelatinous, collagen-rich delicacy is one of the staple dishes eaten by women during “confinement” – a practice widespread across Southeast Asia. Women stay home for about a month after childbirth and adhere to a special diet and self-care regimen.
Seeing that we are all currently undergoing a period of confinement, albeit in very different circumstances, what better dish to make?
1.2 kg Ginger
1.8 kg Pork trotters
12 Boiled eggs
2 bottles Black vinegar (preferably the Chan Kong Thye brand of black sweet rice vinegar)
2 Liters Water
0.5 kg Black sugar
0.5 – 1 Tsp Salt
5 Tsp Light soy sauce
1 Tsp Sesame oil
1 Tsp Cooking oil
- Boil the eggs in water for 10 minutes and peel the shells after the eggs are fully cooked.
- Clean the pork trotters and remove all hair, then cut into big chunks.
- Boil the clean pork trotters in hot water for five minutes, remove and soak the cooked trotters in lukewarm water for five minutes, then drain out the water.
- Wash and clean the ginger with its skin on, use a cleaver to smash it and release its flavor.
- Heat the pot, add a tablespoon of cooking oil and a tablespoon of sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and fry it until you can smell its fragrance.
- Add two bottles of black vinegar, two liters of water 500 grams of black sugar and a teaspoon of salt to cook the ginger for an hour under low to medium heat.
- Add the pork trotters and boiled egg into the pot and cook for another 30 minutes under low-medium heat.
- The dish is ready to serve! If kept overnight, refrigerate and reheat to consume the next day and it will be even more flavorful.
Jeremy Nguee: chef-owner of Preparazzi
Chef Jeremy Nguee is an advocate for both traditional and modern Singaporean cuisines. Among his multiple food-related ventures is the award-winning gourmet caterer Preparazzi.
Nguee shared a curry recipe that he said “feels like home” and is something both his mother and grandmother have made.
“Maybe because mom didn’t want to cook and we were all tired of Chinese food,” he says, “Nevertheless, it’s always something we all look forward to.”
Quarantine Dish #10: Fish curry that ‘feels like home’
600 gm Barramundi fillets
150 gm Batu Lesung Spice Company brand of BBQ marinade
200 gm Coconut milk
200 gm Milk
200 gm Eggplant – cut into ½ inch rounds
200 gm Zucchini – cut into 1 inch cubes
200 gm Tomatoes – halved
2 Tbsp Coriander – chopped
- Season the barramundi fillets with salt on all sides and marinade for 10 minutes.
- Combine the marinade with the coconut milk and milk in a medium pot. Cook on low heat until it reaches a low boil.
- Add the barramundi fillets and eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Arrange in a single layer if possible. Cover tightly with a lid.
- Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir the curry gently and continue simmering for another five minutes.
- Transfer the curry into a warm serving dish and garnish with the coriander. Serve immediately with hot rice or flat bread.
Chef Marco Fregnan: chef de cuisine of Publico Ristorante
Hailing from the northern Italian town of Treviso (known for the Prosecco wine and being the birthplace of Tiramisu), Chef Marco Fregnan brings his authentic Italian cuisine to Singapore as chef de cuisine of Publico Ristorante, a relaxed dining destination on the banks of Robertson Quay.
Chef Marco’s recipe (which serves two) is perfect for lockdown times.
Quarantine Dish #11: Rigatoni al Granchio (Rigatoni pasta with Ragout of Crab Meat in Mamma Rosa sauce)
200 gm Rigatoni pasta
140 gm Crab meat
80 gm Tomato sauce
50 gm Ricotta cheese
1 tsp Chilli flakes
½ tsp Chopped garlic
1 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
A pinch of parsley
- Warm up the olive oil over medium heat, then add the chopped garlic together with the chili flakes and stir fry.
- Add the crab meat and stir in the pan for two minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for four minutes.
- Stir in the ricotta cheese and remove from the heat.
- Prepare the pasta.
- Mix the pasta with the sauce and stir together in the pan.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve hot.
Jeremy Cheok: chef-owner of JAM & Toast Group
Chef Jeremy Cheok is the man behind multiple restaurants, including JAM at Siri House in Dempsey, Tokidon and Garang Grill.
Cheok shared with us the recipe for a “deliciously simple and versatile chicken and rice dish.”
Quarantine Dish #12: Crispy lime leaf chicken with jeweled rice
4 Boneless chicken thighs
Flour (Cheok uses rice flour for extra crisp)
5 Garlic cloves
Tip of your pinky knob of Ginger (ginger powder works fine too)
1 Sprig of coriander with stems and leaves
2 Lime leaves or lemongrass
2 tbsp Soy sauce or fish sauce
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Ground pepper
½ tsp Salt
400 gm Rice
50 gm Pearl barley
50 gm Cracked wheat
50 gm Raisins
2 tbsp Marinade
50 gm Butter
600 ml Chicken or vegetable stock
- Make the marinade by blending all the ingredients with enough oil to make a thick, emulsified paste.
- Marinate the chicken in the paste overnight for best results or a minimum of an hour.
- Saute butter and marinade in rice cooker before adding the rice. Set rice cooker to cook. Once fragrant, add in the grains and toss for a minute to coat well. Add in the stock and raisins.
- You have two choices here:
- You can either dredge the marinated chicken in flour and fry it (Cheok’s choice) in 170C oil for eight minutes (longer if the bone is in). Let it rest for a minute then cut the chicken in half to check if it’s cooked. Put it back in the oil for another two minutes if it’s not.
- You can stick it in the oven preheated at 150C for 30min.
- Pile up the rice on a plate, add some token greens and place your gloriously juicy chicken on top.
Damian Piedrahita: vegan chef at Shangri-La Hotel
Born in Uruguay, Chef Damien Piedrahita began his career in Italy 13 years ago, eight of which were dedicated to plant-based cuisine. He still hopes to help spread a creative and “sustainable plant-based gastronomic culture.”
In Singapore, he introduced his very own 100% plant-based dishes last month at Shangri-La Hotel’s Origin Grill restaurant.
Quarantine Dish #13: Spaghetti with Green Kale Pesto
160 g Spaghetti
60 g Green kale
30 g Ground roasted almonds
10 g Green olives
5 ml Lemon juice
1 tsp Nutritional yeast
A pinch Garlic powder
A pinch Salt
50 ml Water
20 ml Olive oil
- Add water and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil.
- Wash and clean the kale, including removing the central stem.
- Prepare a bowl with water and ice.
- When the water boils, immerse the kale in it for 30 seconds, remove it and immerse it in the ice water. (Do not throw the boiling water)
- Next, crush the roasted almonds in a mixer, and then add in the green kale, green olives, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and 50 ml of water. Add the olive oil last, adding it little by a little while mixing, so that the pesto emulsifies and the water and oil is blended well. The pesto should have a slightly grainy texture.
- Cook the spaghetti in the same water that we cooked the kale in. Remove the spaghetti 4 minutes before the cooking time indicated on the package so that it is not completely cooked. Keep half a glass of the pasta cooking water.
- Put the pesto in a pan and cook at low heat. Place the spaghetti in the pan with the pesto. 8. Add the half-glass of pasta cooking water and finish cooking everything in the pan over medium-high heat.
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