For Chinese New Year dishes sure to impress guests, Nafeesa Saini turns to four socialites known for their culinary magic. In the stylish showroom of German luxury kitchen appliance brand Gaggenau, talk to Karen Soh about her family celebrations, exclusive recipes and insider tips.
Basic element of the signature
“A soulful rice porridge is a staple at home, but for Chinese New Year, we make it extra special. It’s also part of our workplace tradition – I’ll be cooking this for my staff when we get back to work over the festive period. Usually when friends and family come over on the second or third day of Chinese New Year, they look forward to the porridge. Also, this dish is a bit healthier during the festival, when we eat a lot of tasty food like pineapple cakes, fried dishes, and bak kwa. The recipe has evolved over time. At first it was just chicken porridge, but now we add auspicious ingredients.”
express your creativity
“You can prepare some of the ingredients the day before, so you save cooking time. Add things you like, like fresh herbs, or if you want seafood, you can include fresh scallops or even fish. This plate is a blank canvas.”
“We are quite traditional, so even if we are traveling, we would have to be back the day before since my mother-in-law would have a reunion dinner. I was usually in charge of making the desserts, steaming the fish and working with the vegetables. Everyone has their own things to take care of so Mom doesn’t have to do it all.”
form and function
“The perfect kitchen is one with plenty of room to do my prep work (I have it at home) and a hawker-style wok. It should also be beautiful with appliances that don’t break down and a good wine display.”
Karen’s Shredded Chicken and Abalone Porridge
- 2 cups of rice
- 1 whole chicken (reserve broth to cook with rice)
- 2 dried scallops (soak in warm water for 1 hour, keep water for cooking with rice)
- 1 can abalone, sliced (save water for cooking with rice)
- 1 small piece of grilled/blanched chicken breast, shredded
- 3 pieces of shiitake mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- stewed peanut
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- A pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped spring onion, grated ginger and fried shallots as a side dish
- Wash the rice two or three times.
- Remove the oil from the chicken broth. Combine with water from canned abalone and from soaking dried scallops and add to rice in a pot. 3. Cut the chicken breast and scallops into
- Cook until boiling, then bring to a simmer. Add the shredded chicken, scallops, shiitake mushrooms, braised peanuts, and ginger.
- Add water if needed to cook to desired consistency. Stir constantly at this stage.
- Add the abalone slices.
- Spice with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot immediately with chopped spring onion, grated ginger and fried shallots.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALECIA NEO | ARTISTIC DIRECTION: AUDREY-CHAN | HAIR: SHA Shamsi | MAKE-UP: NOOR FASEHA ISMAIL
This story first appeared in the January 2022 issue of Prestige Singapore.