10 June 2012

Our Food Heritage: Sauces & Seasonings 2 Workshop

Attended a workshop "Our Food Heritage: Sauces & Seasonings 2" by Chef Christoper Tan at Shermay's Cooking School yesterday. Hadn't intended to attend this class as I already had something else planned for the afternoon. But the lure of the recipes tempted me to cancel my other appointment for this instead. No regrets, totally! Had attended Chef Chris's first instalment of the Sauces workshop back in Sep 2011, and it was an eye-opener to see that we as amateurs could make our own sauces and seasonings at home, using natural ingredients without added preservatives, flavour enhancers and whatnot.

The recipes featured this time are even more intriguing and my favourites too - like oyster sauce, sweet & sour sauce and sambal tumis.

I mean, I can never ever imagine making my own oyster sauce at home. The ingredients couldn't have been simpler - dried and fresh oysters, rice wine, sugar and salt. Granted, it's a tad expensive to make, a whole lot of oysters used for just a small quantity, but hey if you ever have the chance to try this homemade version of oyster sauce, you will cringe at the thought of eating commercial ones.

Well, at least that's how I felt. We had a taste test of the homemade oyster sauce, followed by the commercial one. When I tasted the homemade sauce, I was like, OMG, this is how real oyster sauce taste like, pure and rich with the taste of the ocean lingering in your mouth. Then the commercial one and I almost wanted to spit it out, it tasted so artificial and synthetic. Couldn't believe that this is what I've been eating all these years.

We tasted a steamed fresh egg beancurd with the oyster sauce and spring onion oil, and it was OH-SO-GOOD! Chef Chris went through the pain of sieving the egg and soy bean mixture through a fine sieve so that we could enjoy the smoothest egg custard which was was silky smooth and melt-in-the-mouth and simply perfect with a little oyster sauce and spring onion oil. Simple dish, yet not so simple in taste.

I guess I would be attempting this homemade oyster sauce recipe so that hubby can have a taste of it too. I believe he will like it too.

Next up, my favourite sweet and sour sauce. I was surprised that the sauce was made mainly from plum and cherry tomatoes with some seasonings like sugar and vinegar; didn't even need ketchup or canned tomatoes. It was so simple I believe I could do it too! The photo above shows the sauce before cooking. Although it looked quite different from the commercial sweet & sour sauce, it's because of the fruits used.
We had the sauce (after cooking with some pineapple and capsicum) with oven baked chicken and I totally loved the sauce. It was fruity, tangy and sweet, without any colouring or preservatives found in commercial sauces.

And finally Sambal Tumis. The ingredients were also very simple like lemongrass, candlenuts, dried chilli, belacan, garlic, shallot and seasonings. Basically just blend eveything into a paste then cook the rempah. We had the sambal with salmon and surprisingly yummy. I never imagined cooking salmon with sambal! Learnt something new again. I'm going to make this paste to go with seafood for an upcoming BBQ.

All participants brought a tub of Sambal Tumis home and I used the whole tub of sambal to cook sting ray and kang kong for lunch today. The dishes were yums!

And not forgetting Chef Chris just published a new cook book (co-authored by Amy Van). I know I shouldn't be buying yet another cook book but after browsing through it, I was sold. The book is about Chinese Heritage Cooking, and started with a simple intro on the history and culture of the various chinese community dialects in Singapore like Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Hainanese. Popular and classic recipes from these dialects are featured in the book and I was pleased to see many of my favourite dishes in the book. With close to 200 pages and 60 recipes, it is definitely a keeper and I do trust Chef Chris's recipes, having attended a number of his workshops previously.

Well, I hope to find some time to read through the recipes and attempt some of them soon. Interested? The cook book is on sale at Shermay's Cooking School (browsing copy available) and I believe major bookstores as well.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertorial. I paid for the cooking class and book at member's price. Just want to share my experience in this little blog of mine.


  1. Hi, Can i find those Sauces & Seasonings recipes in Chef Chris new cookbook??

  2. Interesting! I didn't know we can made oyster sauce too. Just like last year, I attended a workshop that taught hazelnut spread. After tasting that, Nutella and homemade is just world apart.

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  4. Hi Anonymous,
    The recipes taught in class are not found in the book. The book has similar dishes but using different recipes for the sauces.

  5. Hi Edith,
    Yep, homemade is definitely more authentic. But the thing is, it's much more tedious and costly.