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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kranji Countryside Farmer's Market



I've heard a lot of good things about this farmer's market, but have never been able to make it because it somehow always happens when I'm not in Singapore. I finally made it to this one and although we arrived at 2pm on the dot, there were already tons of people and almost no parking. I was again thankful for my Mini's small size as I squeezed into a lot that had a tree in the middle, too small for most cars. Note to self, next time, go earlier.

There were stalls set up by farmers, bakers, food sellers and jam makers. We zoned in on the raw materials. First we tried some sunflower sprouts, which were interesting but I wasn't sure if I was making salad that night so I wanted to wait before I buy, because the whole point of buying local and fresh is if you could have it fresh.


Next we came upon a mushroom stall. They were handing out samples of mushrooms stir fried with pea shoots in oyster sauce. They had your regular run of the mills shiitake and wood ears but I was drawn to the pretty golden and pink mushrooms. Being a mushroom fan, I didn't need a lot of convincing. And at $5 a huge pack, it was a steal.

Next to the mushroom was a fish monger. Their sample was steamed mussels, another favourite. They also had some really fresh looking pomfret, snapper and moulet. We settled on the pomfret ($10) because J was missing a dish he used to eat as a child in Shanghai. So the plan was to ask his mom to recreate it. We also bought two huge bags of mussels at $5 each and asked the fish monger how they made their sample dish, because it was so delicious.

At this point J was ready to call it quits because there is nothing he hates more than crowds, but I made him go to the other section of the market too. There we sampled a batter fried frog leg skewer but decided against buying the frog legs as I hate deep frying things at home, even with the separate wet kitchen. We also tried some crocodile meat, which actually tasted kind of nice. A stall selling crackling pork belly caught my eye, but there was a huge line of people waiting and J was impatient to leave.

Before calling it a day I bough a refreshing ginger basil drink, where the seller pounded fresh basil leaves in a mortar for each glass.

Once home I quickly set to work and realized that two bags of mussels turned out to be a huge amount (filled my big wok all the way to the rim), but better have more than not enough, right? Especially since these mussels are the juiciest and plumpest I've ever bought. I've had nice ones in seaside restaurants, but the ones I buy from supermarkets are never this nice. I was a little skeptical when the fish monger told me to not add any seasoning or any other liquid, but he was right, the mussels had enough briny flavors to stand on their own.



The mushrooms were also incredibly delicious. The golden oyster mushrooms are smaller than the usual ones sold in the supermarket but they had intense flavors. I couldn't stop eating it and wished I had bought more.



The pomfret turned out pretty nice too. I've never had it this way before and even J said this is not how he remembered from his childhood, but his mom made it, so either his memory is failing or his mom couldn't remember how she used to cook it =oP



Needless to say, it was a very satisfying dinner and J kept on saying he wouldn't mind eating like this everyday. There are two problems with this: 1. the market only happens every three months. 2. The selection is not huge, so even if there was one every week we would run out of things to buy. I am hopeful, however, that with time and increasing popularity the market will grow in scale and frequency. I'm just kicking myself for not getting a name card from the fish monger or the mushroom farmer because, even if there's no market, I'm sure if I showed up on their farm they wouldn't refuse to sell me some mushrooms or mussels...

Mussels with Onions and Chili


2 huge bags of mussels (enough to fill 1 big Chinese wok)
2 lg onions
a couple of small red chili pepper
Chinese wine

- wash and scrub the mussels
- chop onions and chili
- Heat wok and add about 2 tbsp of cooking oil. Add onion and chili and stir fry until golden and fragrant. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
- Add all the mussels and a splash of Chinese cooking wine. Cover wok and let it steam on high heat for a few minutes
- Cook until mussels are open

*Note: do not add water or any other liquid. The mussels release a briny liquid as they cook, which has all the flavors you will need

Stir Fried Oyster Mushroom and Pea Shoot in Oyster Sauce

1 packet of golden oyster mushroom (or regular), estimated to be 1 lb
1 packet of pea shoots, estimated to be 1/2 lb
oyster sauce (use vegetarian version to make this a vegetarian dish)
corn starch

- Wash pea shoots and spin dry
- Cut off bottom of mushroom and separate them. Do not wash
- Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in wok, add mushroom and stir, until coated. (mushrooms absorb a lot of oil, so the wok will dry up, do not add water)
- Add pea shoot and season with a little bit of salt (don't add too much because you'll be adding oyster sauce later)
- Stir fry until pea shoot is slightly wilted
- Add oyster sauce to taste (1-2 tbsp) and stir fry until pea shoot is completely wilted, add a little bit of water if needed.
- Dissolve 1 tsp corn starch in some water, add to the wok stir to thicken sauce.

Pan Fried Pomfret with Spring Onion

My MIL made this so I'm relaying what she told me

1 pomfret, gutted and cleaned
1 bunch of spring onion, chopped small
1 knob of ginger, chopped small
dark soy sauce
salt and pepper


- cut a few slits on each side of the fish, rub some salt and pepper into the skin and sprinkle with a little bit of soy sauce to color
- Heat oil in wok until very hot, slide fish into wok and fry until golden, flip and fry the other side until golden and fish is cooked.
- Remove fish and clean wok
- Heat some more oil until hot but not smoking. Add spring onion and stir until fragrant but still green in color
- Pour oil and spring onion on fish