Singapore Mother Sauce


Béchamel-, Espagnole-, Hollandaise-, Tomato- and, Velouté- are just some of the important French mother sauces developed for Western cuisine. By adding ingredients to any one of these mother sauces, a chef can create a varied number of ‘secondary’ sauces to dress, enhance and flavour their dishes. e.g. Béchamel + cheese = Mornay.

Recently, Chef Daniel created a sauce that he named DK7. In essence the sauce, is a blend of 7 Asian flavours (herbs and spices) – galangal, lemongrass, onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind, candlenut etc.

Add some yellow bean, tamarind and sugar to the sauce and you could have an excellent Mee Siam gravy. Grind some cummin, peppercorns and caraway seeds into the sauce and you have the makings of satay. Such is the versatility of DK7.

After tasting a variety of dishes cooked by Chef Daniel, I realised that if you want to produce a variety of Singapore dishes, there are many ways to do it. Buy a specific spice paste; grind your own from spices and herbs, or adapt DK7 according to your tastes. And here lies the caveat – DK7, when used carelessly by student studying overseas who is pining for a local dish, might help turn out a dish tasting vaguely familiar. But give DK7 to any trained chef, or home gourmet with cooking skills and enthusiasm and it can become the magic ingredient for creating novel and exciting dishes.

DK7 could turn out to be the magic ingredient for preparing all dishes with nuances of  a flavour of Singapore. Michelin star chefs in the west who once employed  soy sauce to bring another dimension to their creations  should take note.

Super Value Wines


Cullen Estate, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

White florals, grapefruit and citrus sweet nose with a tight long finish with nuances of biscuits. Biodynamic wine from one of the leading lights of the Margaret River. From Hai Choo Wines and Spirits. Ph: + 65 6515 6538 / + 65 6515 6539

E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2009

Blend of Syrah and Grenache with a little Mouvedre, this wine sets the benchmark for some of the best Cotes du Rhone wines. Perfumed yet subtle with small red fruit, black pepper, juniper berries, currants and some florals with an elegant long finish, often associated with wines twice its price.  From Grand Vin Pte Ltd.

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Master of Spirits II

A DFS event highlighting collectible wines and spirits


Macallan Vertical collection


Silver Oak and Amuse Bouche wines


Johnny Walker Diamond Jubilee, limited to 60 crystal decanters, in a lead crystal decanter adorned with a Britannia silver collar that features a half carat diamond set by hand, and an individually numbered silver seal complete with a hand made leather bound, personalised, hand-embellished artefact book, all housed in a bespoke cabinet incorporating woods from The Queen’s Sandringham and Balmoral estates. Proceeds of profit go to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. Each whisky costs 120,000 sterling (including VAT).


Vico’s Garlic Shrimp Pasta

This was truly amazing. My regret is I forgot to sync my iphone before updating the os and I lost the pic of Vico (Russ) cooking up this fabulous dish in candlelight at our campsite in Yosemite at the end of autumn. However the is a pic of him cooking something else though









Garlic-Shrimp pasta Recipe


1)      1 head garlic –  slice cloves into thick pieces; reserve two cloves minced

2)      ¼ to ½ tsp  Red chili pepper flakes

3)      1/3  cup Olive oil

4)      ¾  cup chopped parsley (reserve a pinch for end)

5)      4 green onions – chopped into ¼ pieces (reserve some of the green part for the end)

6)      1 pound of shrimp deveined and cut in half.  Rinse and dry.  Sprinkle salt grass seasoning

7)      ½  to ¾ box of thin spaghetti noodles or corkscrew pasta

8)      ½ half cup white wine

9)      ½ half cup clam juice – optional

10)   1 juice of a lemon

11)   2 tbls  +/- butter

12)    Parmesan Cheese




1)     Pasta :  Bring pot of water to boil and cook pasta – 8 minutes

2)   Using a non stick sauté pan, on very low heat, sauté sliced garlic cloves with red pepper flakes.  Careful not to burn.  Once cooked through, remove garlic and set aside (don’t drain).

3)   Using olive oil from cooking garlic heat pan and sear shrimp on one side till just undercooked,  add lemon juice.  (Remove shrimp prior to fully cooked)

4)   Prepare sauce, using the left over oil, cook green onion and minced garlic for a minute, then add wine and clam juice (add pasta water if needed ¼ cup).  Reduce by half.   Reduce heat to low, add and melt butter, then add shrimp, sautéed  garlic and parsley, stir to heat up.  Remove heat.

6)   Drain pasta and add to sauce pan.  Add generous amount Parmesan cheese.   Mix well with sauce.

7)   Sprinkle reserved green onion, parsley and more parmesan cheese  on top to give the dish some color.

Ratatouille Moment

I had a ‘Ratatouille’ moment recently. Recall the scene when the jaded critic Anton Ego tasted the special version of ratatouille cooked by Remy and Colette? One taste of the dish and it took Anton back to his childhood, when his mother cooked?

Well, for me it happened in a HK restaurant that we went to for the first time.  My friend’s wife, Peggy ordered a range of dishes – having obtained the maitre d’ guarantee –  “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay….”.
The first dish arrived. One look and I was transported back 40 years in time, when my black and white housekeeper-cook prepared a dish exactly like what lay in front of me. The aromas and taste of the dish brought on the tears.  This was my ratatouille moment or should I say, the moment of the bitter gourd-pig liver soup.

Yoga of Eating

Was reading the Yoga of Eating – and realised the author suggests that one enjoy every morsel of food; when you bring boredom to your food, you are eating boredom. When you talk whilst eating, you are eating a conversation. Instead enjoy the very act of eating and feeding your body, and the purity of it all. So i did.

This year’s two defining gustotary moments:    1. The most delectable tomato I have ever tasted. It was succulent yet firm, sweet yet with grassy flavours that brought me back to my childhood on first bite. I don’t know what variety they were (there are over 500 in Italy alone) but it was spring, and I bought a bag of it at the Vulcaria markets in Palermo, Sicily. (Didn’t think of taking a photo so here’s one of Marsala’s salt).   2. The perfect Jamon Iberico de bellota –  This one, a reserva was not over-ripe and just perfectly aged and cured. It was not overly fruity nor was it chewy and so balanced in taste it was – you did’nt even notice the salt content. It had no strong pork taste but was subtle with nuts, allied with a velvety texture and melt in the mouth moistness. My Spanish friends, concurred and declared it perfect also. We were at the Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid.

The Length of food

They say that the finest wines have the longest aftertaste – lingering flavours long after you have swallowed the wine. This can be measured in caudalies or seconds that the wine’s flavour persists in the mouth. Recently, at  the Majestic Restaurant, I experienced the same with a dish that Chef Yong cooked. Not only that, the flavours developed in the mouth with a second and third bite.  Similar experiences – a soup Menudo (stomach and tripe) in a Mexican hole in the wall restaurant in Honolulu; the sweet and sour pork at the Dragon King restaurant in the Empire Hotel, Wan Chai, HK.

cafe Valle d’Aosta

This friendship cup, (used since the times of the Holy Grail and the Round Table) implies five friends can partake the special coffee together. What is in the special coffee – well, Cafe valle d’Aosta consists of coffee with grappa sugar and some spices.

From uncle Pierre's collection

At my last visit to another part of north Italy, the Trentino, I was offered Parampampoli at the Refugio de Crucolo. Here they had their own mix of coffee with grappa and spices too. Delicious and deadly (that is if you partake too many cups and intend to scale down the mountain after that!).