October 24 2020 – Holly Ong
Every time we visit Singapore, our childhood home, we realize that many of the foods that we grew up with are disappearing as the older generation retires or leaves us. Specific festive foods that were always homemade are no longer being made as busy modern lives take over or substituted by what’s available commercially. One of the reasons we set up SIBEIHO™ is to continue our Singapore culinary heritage. For the young ones we have, they get to imprint their cultural taste memories so that they don’t only Jiak Kan Tan(1).
We set ourselves the challenge of using as much available ingredients found in our OR local stores that is seasonal PLUS we want to support our local businesses. Pre-Covid days, we've had many a cook-outs with friends who wanted to learn simple recipes and technique hacks that we’ve learnt growing up in family kitchens. If you got to watch our Ah-Ma, Yi-yi and Mom cook, its ‘agak-agak’ at its best. I remember the first time I cooked for my paternal grandmother, she sniffed and said Kua Che Zi Eh? (看书煮的?) aka cooked from books? Both my grandmothers were illiterate which meant that they learnt to cook by experience, memory and taste, it was also how we learnt to cook from them. Being forced to think about what is pretty much second nature to us in the kitchen has been a fun thing to keep ourselves busy. We admit that recipe writing isn’t easy but we’ve persevered and we’ve sent our recipes to far away friends stuck in quarantine all over the world.
Which is also why we were delighted when an article by Chef Kenji López-Alt came out in writing about cooking foundations on the NYT Cooking site (yes, we are fans!). Some of the kitchen hacks we use are essentially flavor foundational blocks. If you open our pantry, fridge and freezer, there’s usually bottles/ jars/ tupperwares of Sambals, Rempahs and ‘stuff’, (many of them home made from family recipes), that allow us to whip up delicious, healthy meals in about 20 mins. We appreciate your patience as we humbly put up what we think are our versions of SIBEIHO™ Kitchen Hacks.