ChaoZhou Porridge – Bringing back the traditional Teochew flavours
ChaoZhou Porridge restaurant is home to a gamut of Teochew-style cuisines. To learn the ins and outs of Teochew cuisines, the head chef has connected with and picked the brains of diners and chefs in Chaoshan. During his travels, he also picked up authentic local recipes that he is now sharing with epicureans in Singaporeans.
At ChaoZhou Porridge, you can discover seven types of dishes: Cold; Steam; Braised; Deep-fried; Boiled Vegetables as well as Chaozhou signature and ChaoZhou porridge. The marquee dishes include the following:
The ChaoZhou Porridge (70 cents per bowl) is prepared by immersing rice into boiling water, and then cooked under high heat. Such a process splits and separates the rice grains. Each rice grain then becomes softened. The water also turns into a light porridge base.
In Chinese, “半山半水” is a phrase used to describe the porridge. When presented, the bowl of porridge reflects the divide between 山, the mountain and 水, the sea. This was how working men in the past would cook their staple as it allowed them to save money and still have a gratifying meal. This porridge follows an authentic Teochew recipe.
A variation of the ChaoZhou Porridge is the Steamed Meat Ball with Porridge Water ($5.50/pc). The meatballs are a medley of different ingredients such as pork and vegetables. The slightly salty pork and bright vegetable lend an extra dimension to the subtle taste of the porridge.
A great appetiser here is the Big Sotong ($6.90) with Homemade Sauce. This has got to be my favourite for that night. Fresh and pillowy squids are first steamed and then chilled, making this a cold appetiser. It is served alongside with an artisanal sweet-sour sauce tinged with a spicy note.
In the Chaozhou Steamed Fish (seasonal price), the Mullet is chosen for its meatiness. The whole fish is steamed in the pot first before having its gut removed. This step retains the juicy and original taste of the fish oil. Vegetables are then added for a crunchy bite. I thought the fish was a little tough and dry that night. But the salted vegetables certainly helped a little.
For me, I really like to pair my teochew porridge with Steamed Minced Meat with Salted Fish ($4.50). We also The simplicity of the Fried Omelette with Radish ($2.50 small, $4.50 large) belies its wonderful flavours. The egg is artfully fried to a resplendent golden. Fillings of radishes add a crunchy bite.
The recipe of the Braised Duck dish is the culmination of 30 years of experimentation. The braised duck is a must-have dish during Chinese New Year. The duck meat is braised for a rich taste, before being repeatedly soaked in brine to lock in the fragrance. Besides the duck, you can also try the Braised Pork in Soy Sauce. Boasting the right proportion of fat and lean pork meat, the pork promises juicy tenderness. The process of marinating and cooking the meat over a small fire takes more than a day. Go for the Braised Delights Platter ($16.90) which includes duck, pork belly, large intestines, egg, bean cur and tau pok. Not a fan of their braised intestines though.
For someone who cannot live without carb (like me), Chao Zhou Fried Kway Teow ($8) is a good choice. Despite its Hokkien name, the stir-fried noodle dish is believed to have originated from Chaozhou in China’s Guangdong province. It is a simple meal for the ordinary man, and a hot fire gives a wok hei is essential to this dish. That night, our fried kway teow was pretty impressive. Each stand of kway teow, although pale, brings a smoky flavour and the crunchy prawns simply up the game. Pairing with the noodles is the Stir-fried Green Beans ($8) which was enlivened by radishes. I prefer the Dried Shrimps stir fried with Water Spinach ($8).
To end the meals, the Crisp-fried Taro Rolls ($2.30 per pc, minimum 3 pcs) dish is a creative take on the usual orh nee. Each roll has a crispy exterior, which encases cotton-ball, soft taro. And each bite into its piping hot luscious flesh is thrilling. ChaoZhou’s cuisines hark back to a simpler time. Juxtaposing this is the restaurant’s modern vibe and air-conditioned setting. Happy to know that the place opens till late for supper!
Address: 221 River Valley Road, Singapore 238279
Telephone: +65 6268 6763
Opening Hours: 10.30am to 5am daily
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