For Chinese New Year dishes that are sure to impress guests, Nafeesa Saini looks to four society personalities known for their cooking wizardry. At the stylish showroom of German luxury kitchen appliance brand Gaggenau, she speaks to Karen Soh on their family celebrations, signature recipes and expert tips.
“A heartwarming rice porridge is a staple at home but for Chinese New Year, we make it extra special. It is also part of our workplace tradition: I’ll cook this for my staff when we go back to work during the festive period. Typically, when friends and family come over on the second or third day of Chinese New Year, they’ll look forward to the porridge. Also, this dish is something a little healthier during the festival, when we eat a lot of rich food like pineapple tarts, fried dishes and bak kwa. The recipe has evolved over time. At first it was just chicken porridge, but now we add auspicious ingredients.”
Express your creativity
“You can prepare some of the ingredients the day before, so it saves you cooking time. Add things that you like, such as fresh herbs, or if you want seafood, you can include fresh scallops or even fish. This dish is a blank canvas.”
“We are quite traditional, so even if we’re travelling, we would have to be back the day before as my mother-in-law would have a reunion dinner. I would usually be in charge of making the desserts, steaming the fish and working on the vegetables. Everyone has their own thing to take care of so that mum doesn’t have to do everything.”
Form and function
“The perfect kitchen is one with lots of space for me to do my prep work (I have that at home), and a hawker-style wok. It should also be beautiful with appliances that don’t break down and a nice wine display.”
Karen’s abalone and shredded chicken porridge
- 2 cups rice
- 1 whole chicken (keep stock to cook with rice)
- 2 dried scallops (soak in warm water for 1 hour, keep water to cook with rice)
- 1 can abalone, sliced (keep water to cook with rice)
- 1 small piece of roasted/blanched chicken breast, shredded
- 3 pieces shiitake mushroom (sliced thinly)
- Braised peanut
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- Diced spring onion, shredded ginger and fried shallots as garnish
- Wash the rice two to three times.
- Skim the oil off from chicken stock. Combine with water from the canned abalone and from soaking the dried scallops and add to rice in a pot. 3. Tear the chicken breast and scallops into
- Cook until it boils, then simmer on low heat. Add in shredded chicken, scallops, shiitake mushroom, braised peanut and ginger.
- Add water if necessary to cook until desired consistency. Stir consistently at this stage.
- Add the abalone slices.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot immediately with diced spring onion, shredded ginger and fried shallots.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALECIA NEO | ART DIRECTION: AUDREY CHAN | HAIR: SHA SHAMSI | MAKE-UP: NOOR FASEHA ISMAIL
This story first appeared in the January 2022 issue of Prestige Singapore.