It had been quite some time since I last cooked at home. Previously, due to work commitments and irregular off days, cooking at home just doesn’t seem to make sense.
After I changed my job from fine-dining chef to becoming a ramen guy, my work-life balance is more like regular Joe next-door. ‘A Noodle Story’ is located in the Central Business District meaning my working hours is not crazy like those of a chef. I still put in long hours, but my hours are pegged more to office hours with weekends and public holidays off.
My wife had been nagging, saying she did not get much chance to sample my cooking.
I love to cook for leisure and was thinking, “Why not I stay home and cook this weekend.”
Wet Market – An Introduction
Most people, especially youngster would prefer to make their purchases at supermarket for convenience and cleanliness. However, I prefer shopping for my ingredients in the neighbourhood wet market for numerous reasons. Besides the impeccable freshness of ingredients, there’s an amazing array of choices to choose – from live bull frogs, fresh meat, to a myriad of seasonal vegetables, eggs, dried goods, noodles and beans products.
At the wet market, I can purchase just the quantity I need; a small knob of old ginger, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of coriander, a bunch of scallions all for less than a dollar. If I were to buy from the supermarket, I would probably return home with standard pre-packed packages costing me at least several dollars more.
Another advantage in the wet market is the butchery services. You can ask the vendor to cut the meat into the size you want, or to gut and fillet the fish for you. And if you’re unsure which cut of meat is best for your dish, ask the butcher for some expert advice.
The best part of buying food from the wet market must be the fun of bargaining with the market vendors. It is also a good way to practise your negotiating skills. Any slight blemish on the goods is an excuse to lower the price. Another good time to haggle is when the vendors are about to close for the day and wouldn’t mind selling slightly cheaper to clear stock.
Wet Market – My Dishes
Here are some of the dishes I cooked on Saturday for my family. Only the ‘Imperial Herbal Chicken’ was left out as I forgot to take a photo of it.
Wok-fried french beans with minced pork in XO sauce.
Steamed egg custard with minced pork and spring onions.
Sautéed broccoli with sliced pork and shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce.
Home-style braised sesame oil chicken.
Steamed red coral garoupa in superior light soy sauce with Chinese wolfberries.
Wet Market – My Bonus Recipe for Steam Fish
If you spent a huge amount of money buying a very fresh high-quality fish, all you need to do is to cook it as simple as possible. Just simply steam it accompanied with some light soy. So long as you do not overcook the fish, the end result will be gorgeous.
Steam Fish Recipe
1 medium size fish 600 – 800 grams, scaled and gutted
1 tablespoon cooking oil
10 grams coriander root, finely chopped
10 grams garlic, finely chopped
2 slices ginger
100 grams water
45 grams superior light soy sauce
3 teaspoons fine sugar
2 drops dark soy sauce
2 drops sesame oil
Coriander leaves and sliced scallions for garnish
- Steam fish for 6 – 8 minutes depending on size until just barely cooked through.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat up 1 tablespoon cooking oil and sauté chopped coriander root, chopped garlic, and ginger slices until fragrant.
- Add water, light soy, sugar and dark soy and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain the sauce and add the sesame oil.
- Pour the sauce over steamed fish and garnish with coriander and scallions.
- Serve immediately.
Go on and shop at the wet market as it is a trove of treasure waiting to be discovered.