Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Bringing traditional Chinese cooking to your home in a fun and easy way!
Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! marks my cooking debut on television, showcasing my take on signature dishes from different Chinese dialects. When I was presented with the idea of having my own cooking show last year, I stared at my manager in bewilderment, “What? Me? Are you sure?” I cook once in a while but definitely not as good as chefs and housewives. But when the food for life tv team suggested that I cook easy dishes from different Chinese dialect groups, I absolutely loved the idea and agreed to take on the challenge.
What is food for life tv? It is an online channel catered to Singaporeans who enjoy cooking at home, promoting family values and togetherness.
My dad is a Hainanese, so our gathering involves eating classic Hainanese cuisine like chicken rice, mutton curry, chap chye etc. I lived with my maternal grandfather and was raised in a traditional family where our meals evolved around the classic dishes from the Hokkien province such as pumpkin rice. During Chinese New Year, my gu ma (who was married to a Hakka) whips up a whole table of Hakka dishes such as abacus seeds and yellow ginger chicken. On my own, I would sometimes have lunch at Teochew restaurants with my friends.
My life evolves around food and I love to explore the flavours from different dialect groups. I have been experimenting some of these classic dishes at home, hoping to still able to preserve the heritage and to show you that traditional Chinese dishes that can be cooked quickly and simply at home. For my cooking show, the first task was to create a list of classic dishes from 8 different Chinese dialect groups. From the list, I picked the dishes which I think can be done easily.
The aim: Cooking traditional dishes in a fun and easy way!
Yes that’s my aim. I ain’t a chef and definitely not an expert in the kitchen. Before anyone criticize me for not cooking the proper way or fault me for cutting steps, I hope through this cooking show, it can motivate busy working adults to attempt cooking these dishes for the family.
The fun of shooting a programme food for life tv is to have a makeup artist to stay with me throughout my filming and cracking her brains as she has to do 8 different hairstyles for me. It was definitely not easy for her and to make things more difficult, I cut my hair the day before filming!
Here are some of the dishes I have done for my cooking show.
‘My Food Story’ is a section in the channel where the host interviews celebrities about their relationship with food and the said celebrity would also demonstrate a dish close to his/her heart. In ‘My Food Story’ episode, I was asked to reminisce about my favourite foods from childhood. This recipe for steamed egg cake is close to my heart because it was my late grandmother’s specialty. Here’s me with the charming host, Magdalene See, as we chat about my blog whilst I show you how to prepare this beautiful egg cake recipe.
The second picture is how I steam at home but I know many new homes do not have such a huge wok, so I tried to recreate it in a steamer. The decoration in the end is done with a special tool that we still keep! Find out what it is and watch the video now.
In another episode, I whipped up my favourite Hainanese Pork Chops. I initially wanted to do chicken rice but the procedure was too long. So this recipe works better. At home, we make our own bread crumbs by toasting the bread and pressing it with milk cans to get the crumbs. Also, I use HP sauce in my pork chops. But these steps were reduced and replaced with just tomato sauce, hope it makes it easier for you to try at home. For recipe, click here.
The filming was done within 2 days, I brought 8 sets of clothes to change. If you are too busy at work but still wish to cook dinner for your family, perhaps a one-pot meal will work for you. Here’s my grandfather’s favourite recipe – Pumpkin Rice!
Some of the other dishes I have prepared including a comforting bowl of lotus root soup, tofu with olives and minced meat, yellow ginger chicken, Stir-Fry Chinese Sticky Rice Cakes, Teowchew Taro Paste and heng hwa lor mee.
Because it’s for the TV, some of the steps have to be repeated for different camera angle, so the camera crew was eating overly salty or overly watery dishes. But it was a fun experience and I get to know what really happens behind the scenes.
Watch me cook all these Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka and Teowchew dishes right on this page. You can watch the channel for free by simple keying in www.foodforlifetv.sg in the browsers of their connected devices such as mobile phones, tablets, computers and Smart TVs.
1. My Food Story – Steamed Egg Cake
2. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 1 – Hainanese Pork Chops
3. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 2 – Teowchew Taro Paste
4. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 3 – Hokkien Pumpkin Rice
5. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 4 – Cantonese Lotus Root Soup
6. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 5 – Heng Hwa Lor Mee
7. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 6 – Fuqing Tofu
8. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 7 – Hockchew Stir Fry Chinese Sticky Rice Cakes
9. Miss Tam Chiak Cooks! Episode 8 – Hakka Yellow Ginger Chicken
You can find the links here
The programmes consist of free recipe videos, exclusive tips by celebrity chefs, both international and local, as well as useful kitchen hacks that every wannabe chef needs to know.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Try out any of my dishes at home for your mom this week and send over the photo of the outcome. Click here to submit and 3 winners will get $100 FairPrice shopping vouchers each! Closing date: 15 May 2015. Good luck!