So London and most of the western world recently seems gripped by the uberfashionable nose to tail eating. Suddenly pork belly, cod cheeks, and pig head is as fashionable as the carrying the next IT Bag (any bag that saves my life in a post apocalyptic universe gets my vote. Trust the Japanese to think of this one).
Heck, they even thought it was cool and phenomenony enough to give it a name – “NOSE TO TAIL EATING“.
We in Singapore (and most of Southeast Asia.. and Japan.. and Korea.. and possibly most of India… Carribean Islands… Africa…) just call it “EATING”. Sheesh.
I reckon its borne outta necessity really. Singapore was never a rich country those very many eons ago when we were just a teeny little fishing village and being surrounded by water and a heck of a lotta fishing boats, it seemed natural that we tend to eat a lotta fish, according to the History of Singapore According to Goz, recalls my poor recollection of history class (not helped by the incredibly fugly history teacher we had in skool). Most of our grandparents / great grandparents came over from various provinces of China on a junk, landed in Singapore and tried to look for a better life and had to work super hard to eke a living, send money home to the missus/ family, feed themselves or their family in Singapore. So accordingly, food wastage was never on the agenda. In fact, there probably wasnt even a word in the language at that time for it. You had to be a real pompous brat with no friends to be flagrantly throwing away pork bones or chicken wings because they had bones in it.
O-M-G sidetrack: (Whilst we are talking about all things nautical, on a little sidenote (although nautical related i guess), did anyone see Turkey’s entry in Eurovision 2012? PLEASE tell me someone else thought it was a Sacha Baron Cohen stunt as well? ITS A HUMAN FRIGGIN BOAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! LOOK!!!!! A HUMAN BOAT MADE WITH CAPES! AND THEIR HEADS ARE BOPPING! AAAAAAaaaAAAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaAAAH! THE LUDICROUSNESS METER OF THE WORLD EXPLODES!!!!!)
And my grandparents stayed in a tiny little room with their three kids. All huddled in one little rented room together with mattresses on the floor which they rolled up in the day and convert that room into a little study area. (God knows how they managed the creation of three kids in the confines of zero privacy) In the rare occasion, my grand dad could afford to bring home a fresh whole fish, grandma will steam or fry it up good and tasty. And when everyone sat down to dinner, unless someone wanted a real OG style grandaddy high five to the face, no way in hell anyone was gonna go, “OMG! THE HEAD IS STILL ATTACHED! AAAAH!!! EWW! Im only going to eat it IF SOMEONE FILLETS IT FOR ME OK! I dont like BONES! EWW! AAURGH! UUERGH! BONES!AND OMG! THE HEAD IS STILL ATTACHED! WWWWAAARRGRH!” In fact, from what mom tells me, they used to fight over the fish belly and the cheeks because those were the most tender and silky parts of the fish.
I guess I also always had a real penchant for all things sea related, like sun, seafood, jessica gomes, spongebob, jessica gomes, scantily clad women on beaches, jessica gomes and fish. And since general common sense talked me out of doing a Bikini Party Jessica Gomes/Spongebob lookalike in my house (mostly because for whatever reason no one wanted to see me in one), I thought why not do a fish themed meal.
And also with every supperclub, ever since the start, I’ve always wanted to generally challenge the way people perceive Singaporean food like how we dont actually eat Singapore Fried Noodles. And beyond that to featuring Peranakan Food and traditional home cooked meals and generally food you will NOT be able to obtain easily here – well maybe you can but it sure wont be as awe-bloody-some as this. And also challenge their notions of what can and cannot be eaten and what is or is not delicious.
So we came up with a menu which served everything fish related, including:
Deep fried fish crackling and fish bones (this must win all awards for zero food waste. These were the bones left over after a fish was filleted, the bones then salted and sundried and then deep fried and served with a zesty kaffir lime leave creme fraiche)
Sardine Puffs (little filo pastry puffs of mashed sardines, chilli and tomato sauce)
Overnight stewed fish head curry with skate (this was the Main Event. What everyone came for. And how it was advertised. I was pleasantly stunned by the crowd that turned up, I was thinking it might predominantly be Singaporeans or Southeast Asians (and looks like I wasnt the only one who expected so) but nope, in fact most of them were adventurous Brits who showed up ready for anything! Good on you kids! For this, I stewed it overnight so that the salmon fish head dissolved and disintegrated into the curry, infusing the curry with a much deeper and intense flavour. And i threw in skate meat as well for bite and also because skate meat soaks up the curry juices really well. Also because I didnt want to serve the whole head for fear of freaking some if y’all out)
Fish Otak (a Peranakan steamed fish paste, creamy from the rich coconut cream and perfumed with the galanggal lemongrass and spices blended into the fish. Served on toast.)
Cereal prawns (Classic Singaporean dish you find at any half decent seafood restaurant. Prawns fried in an instant cereal mix of curry leaves and chilli. Crunchy, savoury, spicy prawns. How could this ever go wrong. By the way, for all those who thought there was actual OATS in cereal prawns. Sorry. I though that too. Until James Lowe came along and read the ingredients of the packet out loud…)
We also featured the lovely ShuHan of the equally lovely blog mummyicancook and she made her classic Sambal Egg Dish which went down such a storm that a guest asked if she could give lessons!Well enough rambling from me, if you wanna read more and hear from these kind folks who actually took the time to write up a review, go check them out:
“This was such an amazing meal. The food was fantastic. The company was also great…particularly my date ;) but I loved meeting all the other guests too. So much to eat and such interesting dishes that were clearly made with a love of Singapore and a desire to share that love with us! I highly recommend you try to get yourself a place at the next one.” [kitchen conversations]
“Many regard Goz to be one of the pioneers of what is now a growing movement of South-East Asian supperclubs in London. He’s been churning out compilation after compilation of local Singaporean delicacies and Straits Chinese favourites since 2011… all from the modest open-plan kitchen of his cozy Old Street flat.”[theboywhoatetheworld]!THANKS KIDS!
IN OUR NEXT INSTALMENT (if you have read all the way down here and we still have half of your attention… gosh u must be bored huh?)….…. …. HOW WE CELEBRATED OUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY BIRTHDAY! YEAH! ……. ….AND*flashflashflash* !DETAILS OF OUR NEXT SUPPERCLUB COMING UP SOON! *flashflashflash*