Saturday, August 16, 2014
MasterChef Stephanie of Singapore treats me to stuffed duck’s feet and reveals its recipe
My cell phone rings and the caller ID shows Chow Kah.
“What’s up, buddy?”
“Hey, Ewe, you want to feature a chef called Stephanie Sung in your blog? She’s a Singaporean and is coming to visit her relatives in Cheras this weekend. She wants to share her Hong Kong-style stuffed duck's feet recipe with your readers. I’m going to email her photo to you now. You can put it on your blog. Please check your inbox shortly.”
Five minutes later, after a few clicks of the mouse, I see Stephanie’s photo (below right) on my computer screen and call Chow Kah. “Yes, I got her pix. She's gorgeous. But how did you know her?”
“Her niece in KL is my wife’s friend of another friend. When you want to go over?”
“Saturday, eleven o’clock in the morning will be fine.”
“Great! I’ll email you the address. Thanks.”
At ten minutes before eleven, I jab the doorbell button of Stephanie’s condo and the door swings open inward to reveal a girl (pix below), not more than mid-twenties, standing in the doorway. “Ah, you must be the blogger, Ewe." She steps aside. “Please come in. It’s safe to leave your shoes outside.”
(Pixs of models for illustration purpose only)
I catch a whiff of citrus and blueberry from perfume as I step in and go past her. “You’re a relative of Stephanie?”
“Yes." She closes the door and starts to patter away on dainty feet. "This way, please. She's waiting."
We cross the living room to the dining room. A silver-haired woman (below right) seated at the dining table smiles at me. “Welcome, I’m Stephanie Sung.” Her voice is like that of an old mother hen's.
My jaw loosens; my heart drops to my toes. “But — but, Chow Kah sent me your photo earlier and -– "
Flashing a toothless grin, Stephanie waves a gnarled hand to dismiss the matter. “Oh, never mind! That photo was taken forty years ago. My niece attached it by mistake and clicked it to your friend's wife. It was only later that she realized it but I told her it doesn't matter.” She extends her hand across the table. “Come, please sit down.”
She pumps my hand, gripping it like an iron vice until I wrench it away. Ouch! Her hand feels like a bag of nuts and bolts! I sit down across from her, pull out my MP4 player from my hip pocket and place it on the table. “Would you like to tell me something about yourself, Miss Sung?”
“Please call me Stephanie. I’ll be delighted to. I’m the 2013 winner of MasterChef Singapore. I'm single, in fact, I’ve been widowed twice. Both husbands died of obesity. That's sad. ” She shakes her head. “I suppose I’m too good at cooking.”
“Which part of Singapore are you from?”
"Oh, I see." I suppress a snigger.
Stephanie wags her forefinger at me. “Now, don’t think I’m an O-K-P. I’ve a restaurant in Geylang and I also live there. Have been living there for almost 30 years.”
I knit my eyebrows. “What’s O-K-P?”
“Ore kooi poh. Lady pimp, just in case your don’t know Hokkien.”
The girl who let me in earlier lets out a short giggle and I turn to look at her. She is now sitting with her legs in the lotus position on a chair ranged against one wall (pix below). I smile at her and she smiles back.
I hear Stephanie rapping the table with her knuckles. “Look here, please!”
I tear my gaze away from the bombshell with great difficulty.
“Now let me get to the ingredients.
Twelve duck’s feet. Cleaned, washed and boiled until soft. Put them aside.
Twelve fingers of Chinese roast pork, each 6 cm.
Twelve strips of pork fat, each strip 6 cm.
Twelve fingers of Chinese turnip, each 6 cm. All parboiled and drained.
Several lengths of duck’s intestines. They should be washed and cut into 10-cm lengths for tying.” She clears her throat. “Now, for the seasoning ingredients.
1 ½ tablespoonful of cooking wine
2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon of monosodium glutamate
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water.
Method of of preparation.
Season the pork fat, turnips and roast pork in seasoning ingredients for 20 minutes.
Wrap a piece of roast pork, pork fat and turnip to the hollow of each duck’s feet and secure by tying with duck’s intestine.
Place all the stuffed duck feet on a roasting tray and roast for them for 15 minutes in an oven.
Baste them with the drippings.
Serve with drippings poured over it.”
“One question. Duck’s intestine is difficult to get. Any substitute?”
“Sausage skin can be substituted.”
“Thank you, Stephanie.” I switch off my MP4 player.
The sweet old lady sniffs her nose and rises to her feet. “Ah, my stuffed duck's feet are ready.” She starts to waddle to the kitchen. “You can try them.”
She returns with a plate of the Hong Kong delicacy and puts it on the table.
Using a fork, I spear a piece, bring it to my mouth and start to chew on it.
“Sheesh! It’s tough, like leather! The duck's feet should have been boiled longer.”
Stephanie suddenly grabs a frying pan lying on the dining table with both hands and raises it, ready to use it as a club. “What did you say?” Her glinting gaze spears into my eyes. "Tough?" Her voice now resembles a tiger's growl.
My heart skips a beat. “Er, it’s excellent, crispy -– that’s what I meant. Full of flavour.”
The frying pan goes back to being a frying pan.
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Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Monsoon Books, Singapore
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