Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grumpy Stephanie, Masterchef Singapore 2013, shares her recipe for braised pig's trotter with hair seaweed

(Pixs of models for illustration purpose only)

My mobile phone rings and I pick it up. It’s from an unknown caller.

“Hello, Ewe? This is Miss Sung, Stephanie’s niece. Remember, the MasterChef of Singapore 2013?”

“Yes, of course. Her recipe’s on my blog and response is good, got many hits.”

“That’s great! Tomorrow, my aunt wants to cook braised pig's trotter with hair seaweed for lunch -- 1 pm. Please come join us.”

“Sheesh! Last time, she almost clobbered me with a frying pan. I’m not too sure I want to come.”

“Not to worry, I’ll be around to make sure she doesn’t harm you.”

“Okay then, bye.”


I ring the door bell and Miss Sung swings open the door. "Hi, Ewe!"

"Good afternoon!" I say, stepping inside.

"Come, let’s go into the kitchen so that you can watch my aunt cook,” says Miss Sung.

We enter the kitchen to find Stephanie, her hair in curlers, sitting at a marble counter near the sink and writing on a note pad.

She gets up from the wooden stool and hands me a piece of paper. “Hello again, Ewe, here’s the recipe. Please, take a seat and watch me cook.”

I settle down on the stool vacated by her and put my heavy duffel bag on the floor.

Stephanie goes to the fridge and starts to pour some milk into a glass. “Come, boy, drink some cow’s milk, it’s good for you.” She smiles to reveal yellow teeth.

“Sorry, I’m allergic to cow’s milk.”

“Are you sure?” Stephanie replaces the plastic container of milk back in the fridge. “You’re such a wet blanket. A Sikh cowherd from Kampung Kutty brings the cow milk here every -- "

Miss Sung cuts in, “How about a nice cup of tea, then?”

“That’s better.”

A smiling Miss Sung (pix below) makes me a mug of tea and I sit at the kitchen counter and run through the recipe.

1 pig’s trotter (singed skin, break bones without breaking skin)
¼ oz (7 g) fatt choy (hair seaweed) (rinsed)
2 teaspoon salted yellow bean paste
1 piece fermented bean curd
2 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 cloves anise
1 tablespoonful dry sherry
Water to cover
¼ teaspoon cornstarch blended with 2 tablespoons water
1 ½ tablespoons oil

Seasoning ingredients:
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ teaspoon black soy sauce
A pinch of monosodium glutamate

1. Saute garlic and shallots in heated earthen pot until fragrant
2. Add blended bean paste and trotters. Saute for some time.
3. Pour in water to cover half the trotters. Add aniseed and sherry. Simmer for two hours until tender.
4. Add the fatt choy and seasoning ingredients. Braise for a while.
5. Transfer trotters onto a plate. Thicken remaining gravy with blended cornstarch. Pour sufficient gravy over the trotters and serve hot.

Two hours later, I’m at the kitchen table with a plate of the Chinese New Year specialty in front of me.

Stephanie gestures with her palm at the dish. “Try!”

{Pix of braised pig trotter courtesy of Peter Tan]

From my duffel bag, I take out my Iron Man helmet and wear it. "I ain't scared of your frying pan, Stephanie!"

Miss Sung starts to giggle and Stephanie rushes to the kitchen. She comes back with a rifle in her hands. “Don’t move!”

“Don’t shoot! It’s delicious! It’s delicious!” I say, raising my hands in the air.

Stephanie takes aim at a spot behind me and pulls the trigger. BANG! “Got the critter!” She walks calmly to a cupboard and stoops to lift up a rat by its tail. “I bought this air rifle from Hatyai to kill rats. It can also kill birds and squirrels."

My eyes bulge. The rat is as big as a cat.

“Good work, auntie,” says Miss Sung. “Ewe, can I try your Iron Man helmet?”




ISBN (Paperback): 978-981-4423-84-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-981-4423-85-4
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Monsoon Books, Singapore

Available in Malaysia and Singapore from Popular Bookstore, Kinokuniya, MPH (both store and online) and Select Books Singapore (

The book is sold in Europe, Japan and Australia by the following e-retailers: (UK) (France) (The Netherlands) (Germany) (Denmark) (Norway) (Romania) (Czechoslovakia) (Japan) (Australia)

ebook version will be available soon.


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