Buying and handling fish tips


  • Eyes are slightly protruded, bright and clear
  • Gills are red or pink
  • Note that stale fish has pink sunken eye that is cloudy and the gills are grey.

Cooking tip (either of the following)

  • Bermudian ‘salt and sour’ trick is to squeeze lime/lemon juice over fish and season it with salt and pepper, stand at room temperature, 1 hour
  • Soak fish in 1/4 cup vinegar, lemon juice (or wine) and water
  • Thaw frozen fish in milk

Cooking method

  • To rid of odour, add vinegar to water and simmer fish in s small saucepan until cooked
  • To bake, add thinly sliced onions, parsley, lettuce leaves as base. Bake at 180 Celsius, 10 min per inch thickness. Fish can be wrapped in well-oiled cheesecloth

Rid odour off your hands

  • Rub hands with a wedge of fresh lemon
  • Alternatively, wash with vinegar and water (or salt and water)

Cherry rum preserves


  • 4 pounds (2 kg) dark sweet cherries
  • 1 pound (450 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • Jars to contain the cherry rum preserves later


  1. Wash, stem, and pit cherries
  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine cherries and sugar and cook over low heat for 1.5 hours.
  3. Stir carefully to prevent scorching
  4. Remove from heat, cool 5 min and mix with rum
  5. Pack the cherries into the jars
  6. Cover and seal



Fried fish stuffed with sambal (rempah fish) recipe


  • 2 hardtail mackerel (ikan cincaru, Megalaspic cordyla)
  • Spice paste
    • 3 fresh red chilies
    • 5 dried chilies
    • 10-12 shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1 tbsp belacan
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tbsp tamarind (asam jawa, Tamarindus indica) pulp, soaked in 1/4 cup water, extract the juice and discard the pulps
    • Limau kasturi (Key lime, Citrus aurantifolia) leaves, cut to small strips
    • 1/4 cup oil


  1. Clean and rinse fish with water. With a sharp knife, cut a deep slit from the back of the fish along the bone. Repeat on the other side of fish.
  2. Blend or pound spice paste ingredients to make paste
  3. Heat wok with 3 tbsp oil, add the spice paste and stir fry with low heat until aromatic.
  4. Add tamarind juice and continue to stir-fry until paste is smooth and somewhat moist, but not overly runny. Season to taste with salt and sugar.
  5. Dish out and let cool.
  6. Stuff the paste into the fish via the slits and inside fish stomach
  7. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in wok
  8. Deep fry fish until cooked.



  • 1 kg meat
  • Marinate
    • 3 tbsp peanut oil (or other oil)
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped (base region)
    • 2 cloves garlic (cf., head or bulb)
    • 6 small shallots, peeled
    • 2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp ginger powder
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tbsp salt to taste (or soy sauce)
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • You can experiment with other herbs or spices


  1. Blend all marinade ingredients (add water to facilitate).
  2. Add meat slices or cubes to the blend and mix
  3. Marinate meat for at least 6 hoiurs in low temperature (fridge)
  4. Run the meat through the bamboo sticks (soaked in water)
  5. BBQ (barbecue) on charcoal grill

Peanut sauce preparation

  • Ingredients
    • 1 cup roasted peanuts
    • 1 tbsp tamarind pulps (assam)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
    • 2 tbsp sugar (or palm sugar)
      • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
    • 8 dried red chilies, seeded and soaked in warm water
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 4 cloves small shallots, peeled
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut to strips (use base region)
    • 1/2 inch galangal, peeled
  • Steps
    • Ground peanuts
    • In a bowl, add both tamarind and water, sit for 15 min. Extract the tamarind juice from pulp into water. Use the juice.
    • Chop chilies, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, and galangal into smaller pieces. Add into food processor (or mortar), add little water to blend. This is spice paste.
    • In saucepan, heat oil, add spice paste, cook until aromatic or fragrant.
    • Add in all other ingredients.
    • Stir to combine. Adjust the heat to medium-low.
    • Stir continuously until peanut sauce thickens to desired consistency (where oil and sauce separates)
    • Cool to room temperature and serve with satay meat.


  1. Chicken satay (
  2. Singapore satay (
  3. Satay peanut sauce (
  4. Satay peanut sauce (

Pricing prevents miscommunication while build trust in F&B

Cai png is economic rice

Cai Png is a dish of economic rice. The term “economic” refers to the affordable dish of rice with several selection of veggies and/or meat.

Unfortunately, there is no price label on the varieties of veggies or meat (aka dishes). Regulation is lax. Hence, regular customers are accustomed to becoming smarter, i.e., they are able to identify expensive dishes (in order to avoid them).

Bait or trap?

Sometimes, meat fried with a batter (aka fritter) can make it difficult to identify the dish. It is thus prudent to ask the stall owner or helper for the identity of the meat, else you will be charged higher for fish, prawn, squid or other seafood. In addition, any veggies fried with anchovies, small shrimps, or other seafood may also be charged as meat or “seafood”, and you end up paying higher price for the dish than normal veggies.

It is unfortunate that you are misled to think that you are ordering vegetables, while in actuality you are not. It may be frustrating when you have to argue with the stall owner. It brings back memory of pre-Jover Chew’s Sim Lim Square time when regulation and standards were poor there (ref. 3).

It is a trap

A cai png with fish at AMK Mayflower hawker centre that cost $11 was a trap (ref. 1). It was a TRAP because the dish was not priced and customer assumed that the dish in a hawker centre should be reasonably priced. Unfortunately, there was no price label or pricing table. It is understandable that the customer was shocked and upset.

The owner had justified the price of her mackerel at $8 per slice by suggesting that her fish was bought “fresh” versus frozen. Such justification is completely irrelevant and illogical. What’s next, Premium Wahyu beef fritters fried with veggies that would cost $10 per scoop? If she had the audacity to price her fish slice at $8, she should be more responsible to include a price tag there to prevent potential misunderstanding, especially when cai png at hawker centre is hardly as expensive as hers.

Alas, it is understandable that she had more motivation to lay the “trap” at her stall for gullible patrons to step than to act responsibly (by displaying the price). Unfortunate for her, in the age if social media, her act can become viral (i.e., highly shared in social media).

Include price to build trust

If you want to build cuatomer trust, ensure your business practices are ethical. Else, you will become viral and untrustworthy, regardless of how much you justified your act (especially when it made lesser sense after the reasoning).


  1. Cai Png with fish from AMK Mayflower hawker centre costs S$11 (
  2. Hawker who sold viral $11 cai png with fish explains why it is so expensive (
  3. Jover Chew, former boss of Mobile Air jailed 33 months for conning customers, also fined $2000 (

How to download your certificates attained from NTUCLearning or SkillFuture

Steps are

  1. Visit
  2. Login with your SingPass
  3. Go to Menu (three line icon at top right)
  4. Select Skills Passport
  5. There will be a list of certificates that you have achieved

This is follow-up from previous blog in regards to Food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 from NTUC LearningHub (ref. 1, 2).


  1. Finished FSC Level 1 via NTUC LearningHub (
  2. Food Safety Course requirement to work in F&B and how to register for that course (

Food Safety Course (FSC) requirement to work in food and beverage (F&B). How to register.

It is mandatory to have food safety course before one is allowed to work in F&B. The purpose of the course is to educate food and beverage handlers the good practices to ensure that F&B is safe for consumption. It minimizes the risk of contamination and poisoning.

NTUC Learninghub has online course about the above subject (i.e., Food Safety Course). It is a 7.5 hours course with assessment methods e.g., mcq, practical assessment, oral, and others. There are  parts, i.e., good  personal hygiene, safe ingredients, handling, store, housekeeping. Upon completion, participant will receive statement of attainment (SOA) from Skillfuture Singapore (SSg, refer to ref. 1-2).

Food Safety Course level 1 (since 30 Nov 2020) is administered by Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Skillfuture Singapore (SSg). It was formerly known as “Follow Food & Beverage Safety and Hygiene Policies and Procedures” course (aka Basic Food Hygiene course or Food Safety and Hygiene level 1, refer to ref. 2).

Fee and payment (refer ref. 1). Supports are available, e.g., Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) and skillfuture credit (for Citizen). For Skillfuture credit claim, go to link (ref. 4) for FSC level 1 online learning. Click ‘claim skillfuture credit’. Login via Singpass. Follow the instruction to get the ‘claim id number’. An NTUC Learninghub representative will email you a link for claiming via skillfuture credit, complete the online form and paste the ‘claim id number’. Done.

Course schedule (ref. 3). Currrently, there is online course from NTUC Learninghub via Zoom. Book your slot and a representative will contact you asap to assist you. If you are new to NTUC Learninghub, you may need to provide personal information. Note that I don’t like to provide personal information over email.

UTAP: supports 50% course fees up to $250 per year.

Update: I have completed and passed this course (ref. 5)


  1. NTUC Learninghub mandatory Food Safety Course level 1 (
  2. WSQ Food Safety Course Level 1 (
  3. NTUC Learninghub course schedule (
  4. FSC level 1 (synchronous e-learning), code tsg-2017501339 (
  5. Finished food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 via NTUC Learninghub (

Costs incurred to hawkers

Study on the above topic will help most hawkers. For example, cost components for average hawker stall and other information conducted by Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is important (ref. 1).

It suggested that raw material played the most cost for average hawkers, whereas rental contributed about 12% and utility at 9.3% (both at 21.3%).

Fig. 1 Cost component of average hawker centre (dated 2015; ref. 1)

As mentioned previously, the average cost of rental is $1500 with a range of $5 to $5000 (as offered bids; ref. 2). If a business operates daily without rest, then this translates to $1500/30=$50 per day from rental. Assume 12% rental cost is true, then total cost is $50/0.12 = $416. If daily total cost is true, then the cost of utility and rental would be $416 * 0.21 = $87.36. If raw material is approximately 60%, the cost is $416 * 0.6 = $250. Daily, a hawker would be spending $337.36. The rest is manpower and other service fees at approximately 20% (which is variable, because manpower could be business owner’s fixed salary and other service fees are variable).

To break-even, a business needs to achieve $337.36. If a bowl of product is $3, then the business owner needs 113 bowls per day. Subsequent bowls would be operating profit.

If I am to start a business in a location selling a dish, I will first determine the following:

  • Average footfall in the location per day (and especially compared during weekends)
  • Average peak time per day in hour.
  • Number of competitors
  • Average price of similar product around the location
  • Seats available
  • Parking area
  • Type of customers, e.g. workers, students, or other market segment.
  • Other marketing strategies.
  • Operations consideration, e.g. storage, freezers, footprint (sqm), process area (or kitchen), payment method (cash or cashless), and stall service provider (their efficiency), stall hygiene level (study the NEA awarded hygiene level, should be above Silver level; ref. 3)


  1. Examining the cost drivers of hawker food prices by MTI (
  2. Hawker stall rental using bidding system is flawed (
  3. New food hygiene recognition scheme to replace existing grading system (, 19 Jun 2018)

ngoh hiang (five spice fritter)


  • 1 packet bean curd skin
  • 500g minced pork belly (fatty)
  • 500 g fresh shrimps, minced
  • 400 g chestnuts (or jicama)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 garlic
  • 6 shallots


  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 50 g flour
  • 1 tsp five spice powder


  1. mix all ingredients and seasoning together and marinate, >= 1 hr
  2. place 3 tbsp filling in lower half of bean curd skin (soaked first)
  3. roll it in and seal edges with egg yolk/washes (egg wash is mixture of egg, water, milk, cream and salt)
  4. optional step: steam >= 10 min, cut into smaller pieces, coat with flour and proceed to deep fry
  5. deep fry until ngoh hiang turns golden brown
  6. drain excess oil and paper towel
  7. serve

DIY chee cheung fun (rice noodle)


  • 354 ml rice flour
  • 3 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp wheat starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (and extra for greasing pan)
  • 354 ml lukewarm water
  • 236 ml boiling water


  1. combine rice flour, tapioca, and wheat starch, and salt in mixing bowl
  2. add canola oil and lukewarm water
  3. whisk until smooth
  4. whisk in boiling water
  5. set aside and allow the batter to rest, 45 min
  6. use aluminium square cakepan for steaming rice noodle
  7. add batter to abiout 1/8 in thickness to prewarmed greased pan
  8. swirl around to coat evenly and steam, 3 min until noodle bubble up