Tag Archives: roast pork

Pasar Bella

Giant paella being cooked

Hurrah for Pasar Bella ! It’s been open for a few months now, and we finally went yesterday to our utter delight. Finally Singapore has a selection of good food purveyors, offering beautiful cuts of meat, deliciously smelly cheeses, organic vegetables, fresh seafood and yummy bites – all under one airconditioned roof.

Despite the fact that most of the produce is imported – it still gives me the same feeling as a true farmers market where everything is sourced locally. Or one of the European markets like the Mercato Central in Florence where you have the similar stall after stall of everything good to eat.

Bone-in Rib-eye Steak

We found James’ Butchery & Co where we bought a ridiculously large bone-in rib-eye steak. And after chatting with James, ended up buying lamb chops, thick rib-eye and striploin steaks, beef brisket, and osso bucco with the intent of going back next time to try the pork and chicken that he has to offer. Amazing. James also gave us advice on how long to finish the bone-in rib-eye in the oven, after searing well on the stove first (15-20 minutes for medium rare).

The Cheese Ark is a dark cavernous room where four obviously cheese-loving women will tell you anything and everything about the cheese they offer. We bought cheeses that we’ve never even heard about and enjoyed them last night after dinner.

Vibrant green and purple kale

Of course every market needs to have organic produce and at the Organic Grocer I was delighted to finally find the elusive-in-Singapore, kale ! That’s been pan-fried and served with the steak last night, been added to a soup today, and currently baking in the oven to make kale chips. Yes, I’ve been waiting eagerly for a long time to get my hands on this delicious leafy vegetable.

The AMAZING roast pork belly at Roast & Host

By this stage we had our hands literally full and we will happily make the trek to Turf City again, but an honourable mention needs to go out to Roast & Host by Keith and Kin. We’d worked up quite an appetite after all that shopping and we followed our nose to Roast & Host. Ribbons of crispy crackling greeted us. It was so popular that they couldn’t cook the pork quickly enough for demand and we had to wait a while before we went back and were rewarded with the most awesome roast pork.

Happy happy happy is all I can say – well done and THANK YOU to the organisers of Pasar Bella !

Pasar Bella
PasarBella @ The Grandstand Bukit Timah Singapore
200 Turf Club Road Singapore 287994
Tel: +65 6887 0077

Open daily from 9.30am – 7.00pm

Roasted rolled pork belly – it’s all about the crackling

I bought an enormous pork belly from the supermarket yesterday morning. Like, huge – I think it was over 2 kilos (and remember there’s just the two of us). In my mind the thinness of the cut justified a larger piece but clearly it doesn’t work that way.

The skin was not as dry as I would have liked (dry skin=good crackling) so I salted it liberally and then popped it in the fridge in the hope that it would help to dry in the few hours I had before it needed to go into the oven. When I took it out later, it still wasn’t dry enough, so I decided to improvise and roll the cut to help get the best crackling possible.

I had nothing suitable for me to roll the pork with – it would have been lovely with some chopped dates or even just some fresh thyme. Luckily the cut has those lovely layers of fat that help to keep the roast tender and juicy. It’s also the first time I’ve rolled pork myself – usually the butcher does it for me. And to be totally honest, I made enough of a mess without addditional help from trying to add stuffing. We had so much left over we had pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and have a roast pork dinner again tonight (sans crackling boo).

Roasting was quite daunting for me at the beginning, but I have found over the years that if you follow some basic rules you can’t really go wrong – it’s very forgiving, unlike a pastry, for example.

My usual gauge for roasting pork (I almost always use pork belly because I love the layers of fat) is to simply season with salt and pepper, then pop into a preheated oven at 220C for 30-40 mins to get the crackling going, and then either 1 hour for every kilo of meat at 180C or 2 hours for every kilo of meat at 160C. This has worked for me every time, but you can also always use a thermometer – the last thing you want is to have to your apartment (or house) smelling of that delicious roast and then carve it only to find it needs more time in the oven. I couldn’t bear to delay the gratification!  Let the meat rest for a good 20-30 minutes before you carve it up.

I serve my roast pork with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic (which goes all mellow and sweet after you roast for an hour).

Oh, and if the crackling is still not up to crispy par, then once you take the meat out, carefully take a knife and cut the skin off, and while the meat is resting, pop the crackling back in the oven on high or even grill it, although I find the oven gives better results – it seems to go puffy when you grill it.  Watch the crackling like a hawk, particularly when grilling – you don’t want any burned bits because they are uneatable.  And who can take that risk when crackling is such a premium??

Brunch @ the Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton

Caprioskas waiting to be mixed

I’m going to attempt writing this post while trying to sober up from a food and cocktail coma from 3 hours of indulgence at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. There for a friend’s birthday, the festive atmosphere was surely enhanced with freeflow champagne and a choice of mojitos, caipirinhas, Bloody Marys and caprioskas (most of which were doubles). Aside from the drinks, the choice of food we had available was impressive.

“Buffet hack” – chawanmushi with caviar

The best thing about buffets is that you can have a little bit of a lot.  The ability to sample as many dishes as you can want appeals to someone like me who has difficulty making her mind up on what to order and often ends up with food envy for my friends and their choices.  The birthday girl added more choice with her “buffet hacks”, my favourite was her topping chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg) with some caviar from one of the cold starters – perfect.

We all started with cold seafood.  I was focused on oysters, trying the eight varieties of freshly shucked oysters from France and New Zealand and then I spotted a tray of jamon de iberico, of which a small pile made an appearance on every plate I brought back to the table the entire meal.

The awesome roast pork with crackling

My favourite little things at the buffet were a four cheese tart with fig and walnut, the wagyu roast with the best Yorkshire puddings and gravy, the roast pork (mainly for the super good crackling I have to admit) and the very tart lemon meringue dessert.

Four cheese tart with fig and walnut

The four cheese tart came in a pastry shell that was just firm enough to not crumble and was a terrific contrast to the creamy cheese filling, which was the perfect partner to the sweet fresh fig on top.

Yorkshire pudding with wagyu roast

The wagyu roast was so tender – no matter if you sampled a more well done slice from the edge, or an almost blue slice from the middle – and the Yorkshire puddings were the perfect “mop” for the puddles of gravy that were generously ladled over them.

We finished the meal with a generous sample of the 50 cheeses on offer.  I have to admit, after a good camembert and brie, and a wonderfully tangy roquefort, the rest of the cheeses on my plate were there more for the fact that I could actually have that many varieties on one plate.

Lemon meringue

For a five-star establishment, the design and decor of the Greenhouse gives it a slight feel of a buffet in a cheap Caribbean resort – not helped by the live band playing songs like “Guantanamera” – and I think that detracts from the appeal of the whole experience, which is a slight shame, because the food is really very very good.  Perhaps I’m spoiled by the Raffles Hotel Bar & Billiard Room’s more personal serving of their food, along with the more sedate ambiance, but after all those cocktails, I’m sure no-one cared much, and also, for our boisterous birthday table, perhaps it was the best place to celebrate after all.  Happy birthday Chrissy !

The Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton Hotel
7 Raffles Ave
Tel: 6337 8888

Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m

Christmas roast

Roasted pork belly

Last year I roasted a turkey for the first and last time. Not that I didn’t like the finished product, there was just so much of it leftover, and with just D and I, turkey leftovers get a little boring, no matter how you try to dress them up.

This year, D will have to do without turkey, as I have the special present of my parents visiting, and I’m reverting to a family tradition of making roast pork for my family.

I’m lucky to live in Singapore where I have easy access to lots and lots of pork belly, my favourite cut of pork to roast.  It’s such a tasty cut of meat, due to the layers of fat between the meat that seem to almost melt once roasted, just basting the meat in tasty goodness and keeping the meat tender and moist.

A little preparation can also give you brilliantly crispy crackling.  Simply pat the meat dry and score the skin every 1 cm (you can also ask your butcher to do this for you).  A great trick is to use a stanley knife – it’s a bit rudimentary, but it works a treat in giving you evenly deep cuts into the skin without any stress at all.

Coat the entire cut of meat in oil, and then rub a liberal amount of salt into the skin, making sure you get salt into the scores.  Then pop into the fridge, uncovered, for a few hours or overnight if you can.  Both the salt and the fridge draw the moisture out of the skin to ensure a really cracking crackling.

Bring the meat out of the oven an hour or two before roasting to bring it to room temperature.

Brush off the excess salt, and then season the entire cut on all sides, above and below with salt and pepper.

Pop onto a roasting tray, and into a hot oven at 230C for 30 minutes to get the crackling going.  Then lower the temperature to 180C for an hour – an hour and a half if you’ve got a huge piece of pork belly.  Because pork belly is a thin-ish cut of meat, it doesn’t take a long time in the oven, but also because of the layers of fat, it’s a forgiving meat to leave in the oven for longer at a low temperature.

Leave out to rest for at least 30 minutes before tucking in.  This will give you time to make gravy with the juices in the tray.

Haricot vert, potatoes roasted in duck fat, honey-glazed carrots

Serve with roasted potatoes (I’m doing mine in duck fat for a more festive touch – if only I could find goose fat !), roasted onions, garlic, leeks and any other vegetables that you can find in your fridge.

Yum cha at Crystal Jade Golden Palace (Paragon)

In the seemingly never-ending search for good yum cha in Singapore, I think we finally hit the jackpot at Crystal Jade on the weekend.  When I say “good”, I have to admit that my search is to find the best replica for Sydney yum chas, so perhaps my idea of perfection is a tad skewed.

Yum cha is definitely better enjoyed with more than two people.  D and I have tried to go a few times (just the two of us) and it just means you don’t get to order the variety of food that makes yum cha so perfect for people like he and I who cannot make up their mind and basically want a bit of everything.

The restaurant is airconditioned to Arctic temperatures, which I never understand in Chinese restaurants (maybe they want you to eat faster so the turnover is high ?  Then again, this doesn’t look like the sort of place that relies on turnover, so who knows) and the menu limited, but consists of firm favourites – har gau, siu mai, carrot cake – and each one is done to Sydney-grade perfection.  My only comment was that the other yum cha staple – char siew pau – was a bit doughy and the char siew a tad too sweet.

The firm favourite for both D and I was the roast pork.  A small, delicate perfect square of 9 crispy pieces, not too fatty, not too dry.  Delicious by itself or dipped into the accompanying mustard.

All in all, I’d be happy to back there again and again each time the urge for yum cha hits me (which is pretty often, actually).  Hurrah !

#05-22, 290 Orchard Road S(238859), Paragon Shopping Centre
Tel: 6734 6866