Gaita Fores cooks Hokkien Mee and Chicken Claypot Rice as the 27th Singapore Food Festival goes virtual

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IF 2020 were a normal year, the 27th Singapore Food Festival would have been like it has always been: a grand celebration of food and culture featuring many food and beverage partners showing off their dishes in front of a live audience. But 2020 is not a normal year and thus the grand food festival has migrated to a safer space — online — but still continued to dish out virtual food tours, live masterclasses, chef collaborations, food bundles, and limited edition food merchandise across two weekends in August.

“As we took the Singapore Food Festival online and virtual for the first time, we wanted foodies the world over to rediscover Singaporean cuisine from wherever they may be,” Ruby Liu, Singapore Tourism Board’s Philippines area director, said in a release before adding that this year’s programming had “something for everyone.”

While the festival is over — it ran from Aug. 21 to 23 and Aug. 28 to 30 — the various masterclasses and virtual tours can still be accessed through the festival’s website, https://www.singaporefoodfestival.sg/.

One of the masterclasses featured the Philippines’ own Margarita “Gaita” Fores and Singaporean chef Ming Tan as they prepared Hokkien Mee, a noodle dish using prawn stock; and Chicken Claypot Rice, a well-loved rice casserole, live from their respective countries.

Ms. Forés, ambassador of Filipino cuisine who was voted Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016, is the owner of restaurants Cibo, Lusso, and Grace Park, and caterer Cibo di Marghi. Chef Ming Tan, meanwhile, has over 10 years in the hospitality industry and is presently the managing partner of the Slake Collective which includes homegrown brands like KIAP and Tokidon, and is as well the consultant chef for JAM at Siri House, and is the part of Channel News Asia’s top-rating series For Food’s Sake.

The masterclass, called “2Fast, 2Delicious,” showed off Slake Collective’s Damn Easy Hokkien Mee and On-the-Spot Claypot Chicken food kits and used these to make the dishes without all the fuss in 15 minutes — but of course, each chef added their own flair to elevate the experience. (View the masterclass at https://www.singaporefoodfestival.sg/virtual-cook-along.)

Ms. Fores, for her Hokkien Mee dish, added pork belly, chicharon (pork cracklings, crispy fish, river prawn, and aligue (crab fat) for that tangy Filipino touch, while for her Claypot rice, she added Filipino chorizo for a “distinct and delectable taste,” according to a press release.

Mr. Tan’s take on Hokkien Mee featured the Filipino native lime calamansi, and added blow-torched, soy-marinated pork shabu with crispy fish. For his Clay pot rice, he added goose liver sausage, lap cheong (a type of Chinese sausage), and aged chai poh (preserved radish).

“Filipino cuisine, like Singaporean cuisine, enjoys strong flavours and we like our sour things too,” Mr. Tan noted about the similarities between Filipino and Singaporean cuisines before adding that the two cultures “have similar taste preferences, use similar ingredients like herbs and spices.”

And Ms. Fores agrees as she said “the similarities are more evident with food with strong Malay influences from the South of the Philippines like curries and rendangs,” and that “the Chinese slant in Singaporean dishes is something you can find in both countries.”





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