Recpies for beginners?

What is a hawker center, anyway?

Back in the old days of Singapore, street-side vendors roam the streets of Chinatown peddling local food. Those were the original hawkers.

Come a time when the Singapore government thought that’s unhygienic, so they began to herd those hawkers to permanent places of business, which are the ‘hawker centers’. They don’t roam the streets anymore, but definitely still (at least for the hardcore old timers) yell at you to try their food.

What makes a food court different from a hawker center is the ambience. Hawker centers are usually located at a marketplace in the heartlands, huge, noisy and full of redundancy – you can find four stalls selling the same stuff!

In a food court, everything is carefully measured and controlled. There’s only one stall for each type of food, one drink stall, one for chicken rice etc. And it’s air-conditioned. And more expensive.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

BIG pot. 3 gallons is best. You could MAYBE do it with a 6-quart saucepan, but we’ve never been willing to try.
4 Celery Stalks
4 Carrots
1 Chicken
1 bag frozen egg noodles.
1 small jar Chicken “base”

1.) Open chicken. Take out the innards and rinse out.
2.) Place chicken in pot and fill with water until the chicken floats. Boil 1 1/2 hours.
3.) Wash veggies. Shave and chop veggies.
Now the hard part…
3.) Using tongs take chicken out of water. Put on cutting board and carve off meat. (Skin is usually already coming off at this point. Toss that too).
4.) Throw celery, carrots, egg noodles, half jar of the chicken base, and the carved off meat back into pot.
5.) Boil for another hour and serve.

…and serve…and serve…and serve…as it makes about a week’s worth of chicken soup.

[li]A big saucepan or pot isn’t something a lot of people have around.[/li][li]Carving a boiling hot chicken can be a BITCH![/li][li]Takes 2 1/2 hours so plan ahead.[/li][/ul]

[li]Directions aren’t complicated. Amounts mostly to “chop it up and throw it in.”[/li][li]Healthy. Base is kinda high in sodium but that’s it.[/li][li]Makes a SHIATLOAD of soup! Have Tupperware at the ready.[/li][/ul]

One more ‘con’ my friend complained about. You’ll never be satisfied by Campbells Chicken Noodle again. :smiley:

I don’t know how easy to get or useful this would be for in Singapore, but if you were in the U.S., the first thing I’d recommend would be get a copy of* The Joy of Cooking*. It tells you how to do everything, from frying an egg to making your own preserves. Most of the “beginner” cookbooks that I’ve seen are, frankly, disgusting, with a lot of emphasis on pre-packaged ingredients.

When I started cooking, I made a lot of stir-fries. Versatile, cheap and easy.

I would suggest buying a decent, carbon-steel wok (which I’m guessing would be easy to find in Singapore). They’re pretty inexpensive and versatile, and with a minimum of proper care will last a long time. Then get any one of a number of books on stir-frying, and Chinese cooking in general. I’m partial to Martin Yan, but I know there are others out there.

I used to do a lot of stir-frying when I was single. Generally it takes more time to chop meat and vegetables than it does to actually cook the dish, but 20 minutes for a meal would be pretty easy to accomplish. Generally, you crank the heat up to rocket-hot, add oil, and start cooking. While you’re chopping/cooking, cook a little rice or some noodles.

It’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. There is a basic stable of non-perishable ingredients you can keep on hand (soy sauce, corn starch, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, rice, noodles), and then just get meat and vegetables to suit the dish. Plus, you can either make enough for a day or two worth of leftovers, or just make a little bit for yourself for one meal.