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 (

Cancellation of monthly instalment on UOB credit card costs $150

Trapped by zero-interest 3 years instalment plan

I had used the UOB credit card ‘zero-interest’ 36 months instalment plan when I bought a $2700 Smart TV at Gaincity. The salesperson had suggested going for the max. My fee waiver had been rejected twice and I began to wonder if the instalment plan had something to do with it (ref. 1).

My guess was, as you start using the credit card services and unconsciously bound yourself with the credit card company with a long 3-years credit, you are doomed.

The ‘zero-interest’ instalment ended up costing me $400 service fee (for two years).

How to liberate yourself from the instalment or credit trap

If you don’t really need the credit provided by the bank/credit card, don’t get trapped. Pay in full.

I called UOB customer service (1800 222 2121) and got the following information.

  • Cancellation fee for termination of instalment plan is $150. This is cheaper than the yearly fee of $200.
  • To go about cancellation, just make payment in excess (inclusive of $150 cancellation fee) to your credit card
  • Call again to customer service
  • Then ask to cancel the instalment plan
  • To get through the call may take some time depending on the call traffic. Be patient.

Lesson learned from this case

Product salespersons may be ignorant, so don’t fall into a credit trap unnecessarily based on their unqualified suggestions. The cost can be high (especially the ‘hidden costs’).

For this experience, I have paid in access $400 fees + $150 penalty = $550 on top of the $2700. That is equivalent to 20% of the price of the TV.

After this episode, I can now decide to discontinue my credit card with UOB and start shopping for other service providers (e.g., OCBC, Maybank, POSB/DBS, Standard Chartered, CIMB, HSBC, NTUC, BOC, ICBC, and others, ref. 2).


  1. How to waive UOB credit card membership fee (
  2. Compare the Best Credit Cards in Singapore 2021 (

Webinar on The Road to Becoming a Hawker by Hawkers Collective and NTUC LearningHub, 17 Sep 2021 Fri at 15.00

This webinar is organized by NTUC LearningHub and Hawkers Collective to share insights from ‘hawker mentors’ that 0, HeyMe Prawn Noodles, Hong Seng Curry Rice, Li Xin fishball noodles, Old Amoy Chendol, Reimondo Seafood Congee, Soon Heng Pork Noodles, Tian Kee Carrot Cake & Hokkien Mee, Warong Pak Sapari and Western Barbeque.

To register, go to the following Zoom link.

Items non exchangeable and non refundable are superseded by Singapore Lemon Law

Customers will be given ‘warning’ during checkouts at the cashier that their items are non exchangeable and non refundable. The cashiers say it according to their management’s instruction: ‘please note that these items are not exchangeable and non refundable’. Some are ‘stamped’ on the receipt (Fig. 1).

I would usually say, ‘yeah, ok’. Why would I even need to bother telling the cashier who is not in a management position about Lemon Law? But I know what Lemon Law is and my rights to replace/exchange a DEFECTIVE GOOD.

So, for all customers, your rights are protected under Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act Chapter 52A (, under Part III Additional Consumer Rights in Respect to Non-conforming Goods (i.e., defective goods).

If you got a defective goods, you can get it replaced with the same design, size, or model of the product. In the event that there is no suitable replacement, you can get an exchange (provided that you are agreeable), i.e., to switch the defective item with something of equivalent trait or value. If there is no suitable equivalent value to exchange, you can get a refund!

Some company are more open about their return policy, e.g., Art Friend (Fig. 2).

So, if you encounter an outlet or staff that says your goods are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, THE RULE IS NOT BINDING BECAUSE IT IS SUPERCEDED BY LEMON LAW.

Fig. 1 items sold are non-exchangeable and non-refundable by Sketchers Singapore
Fig. 2 Art Friend receipt conform to the Lemon Law requirement (somewhat, because Lemon law protects consumers longer, especially when the defect may take time to reveal itself).


  1. Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act Chapter 52A (
  2. What is Lemon Law?, 29 May 2021 (

Daun Ketapang (or Indian Almond Leave) is used to keep betta fish

Betta fish is also known as Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) found in freshwater and native to South-East Asia.

Aquarists who keep this fish will use Daun Ketapang (Indian Almond leave, Terminalia catappa) in the water when their fish is sick or lethargic. The dried leave are added to the water, where they will lower its pH and infuse the water with beneficial chemicals. One major chemical component is tannic acid and tannins.

The Ketapang is useful to treat fish skin ailment. The antimicrobial tannin kills bacteria, fungus, and viruses. It is better alternative to the fish antibiotics (ref. 2)

How to make almond leaf extract? The tannin and other phytochemicals are water soluble. You can increase the chemical release by pouring hot water over the dry leave and incubate overnight until the water changes colour. Keep the solution chilled for months.

Tannin is a non-toxic phenol that function as crosslinking agent (ref. 3). It is used to agglutinate microbes in order to inactivate them. Its crosslinking property is beneficial in wound healing (ref. 4)

Tannin has been used in leather-making industry where curing involves chemical crosslinking afforded by adding tannin to the leather (ref. 5).


  1. Where to find Ketapang leaf (aka Indian Almond Leaf) (
  2. Indian Almond Leaves: Keeping your fish happy, naturally, 7 Apr 2021 (
  3. Effect of tannic acid as crosslinking agent on fish skin gelatin-silver nanocomposite film (
  4. The use of tannins in the local treatment of burn wounds – a pilot study (
  5. Tanning (leather) (