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Old Flavours, New Interpretations (II/II)

Even more Mod-Sin creations by Singaporeans that Singapore cuisine a modern makeover.

(… continued from Part I.)

Looking Back to Step Forward

For Damian D’Silva, the tireless champion of local heritage fare, Mod-Sin food is more than just amping up the luxe quotient of a local dish – such as throwing lobster into laksa.

“When I start to execute a Mod-Sin dish, I look into everything that makes the dish unique, and I will not even begin to try and complete the dish if it will not be better than the original.” This means he goes right back to basics, mastering the traditional techniques, perfecting the heritage recipes and familiarising himself with the original, intended flavours, so that any modification is rooted in authenticity.

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The pork is marinated in housemade sambal, then oven baked for 12 hours and served together with a wrap of bean sprouts, winged beans and serondeng.

“I find most Mod-Sin dishes have no ‘soul’ as the person executing the dishes does not understand what the right flavour should be – this destroys the dish’s originality and heritage, and does not help with upholding Singapore’s true heritage,” says D’Silva.

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This oxtail shepherd’s pie features fork-tender oxtail braised in beef stock for nine hours, then assembled in a ramekin – with three layers of mash and two layers of oxtail, and topped with crispy shallots and spring onions.

MILO MILESTONE

“I wanted to put an end to the Milo Dinosaurs and Godzillas, with a Milo Schwarzenegger or Terminator, the end-all,” says Bjorn Shen of Artichoke. Together with his team, Shen has created an “multi-milo-dimensional” ice-cream bar – or kulfi bar, rather – out of necessity. Organisers of various SG50 food events kept asking him to come up with something “Singaporean”, so he worked the beverage that generations of Singaporeans grew up drinking into a dessert – and are we glad.

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This icy treat is made from locals’ childhood drink, Milo, and sweetened with condensed milk and Milo cereal.

At the core of this confection is a Milo kulfi with marshmallow. (“The kopitiam-style Milo with condensed milk is perfect for making kulfi, which is also made with condensed milk,” reveals Shen). This is then dipped in white chocolate containing hand-crushed Milo cereal. When the shell is almost set, Milo powder is sprinkled on top. This isn’t the endgame Shen has in mind, though.

“This is just a teaser. The Schwarzenegger might be something like this, but dunked into Milo fondue, eaten steamboat style.”

Chicken Rice Martini? Yes.

This hawker-centre dish just got a makeover, in the form of Steve Leong’s chicken-rice cocktail. We dissect this drink by the award-winning mixologist who represented Asia at the finals of the Belvedere Challenge in London in June 2015.

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This hawker-centre dish just got a makeover, in the form of Steve Leong’s chicken-rice cocktail. The award-winning mixologist represented Asia at the finals of the Belvedere Challenge in London in June 2015.

Located along the Hainanese enclave of Seah Street, local watering hole and dining joint Tess Bar & Kitchen has some of Singapore’s most famous chicken-rice restaurants – such as Chin Chin and Yet Con – as neighbours. It should only be natural that the restaurant and bar’s resident mixologist, Steve Leong, take the classic local dish as an inspiration.

The Chicken Rice Martini was created as a tribute to the heritage of the area – a concoction that “embraces all the key ingredients of the well-loved dish”. This cocktail was also featured at the recent Diageo World Class Southeast Asia Competition in Bangkok, where Leong was crowned both the Singapore and South-east Asian champion.

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Read Part I of this story.