To market, to market…

When my mother-in-law was here recently, my husband took her on a visit to a couple of wet markets to get fresh produce. It was his first visits as well, and he was pleasantly surprised at how fresh and cheap the vegetables, meat and seafood are; which made him reconsider about shopping at supermarkets.

Anyway I started my maternity leave last Thursday and my husband took the chance to take me on the tour, since baby Alex seems to prefer to snuggle inside the womb instead of checking out the new world. (Maybe he prefers the coziness inside my tummy despite the tight space.) So last Friday, we went to Tekka market, near Little India, which is popular with chefs, and even top chef like Joel Robuchon was brought there for a visit and he was fascinated by the available produce.

We first had lunch at the hawker center, next to the market, at this famous stall selling nasi bryani (saffron rice with pickled vegetables and a choice of meat which can be curry chicken, beef rendang or fried fish) known as Allauddin’s Bryani, located at Blk 665 Buffalo Road, #01-232 Tekka Food Centre.

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My husband had tried it during his previous visit and told me it was very flavorful and tasty. He got both of us the curry chicken bryani; the portion is pretty big for S$4.50 each.

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It also comes with a minced lamb ball and a small bowl of yellow dal (curry Indian lentil). I do agree that the saffron rice is very flavorful and the chicken is really tender; I can easily pull the meat apart just by using the plastic utensils. But I don’t really like the pickled vegetable, otherwise known locally as Achar. I find it too saltish, unlike the usual one. My husband explained that what we usually have is the Nonya Achar (the peranakan version, which is sweeter), whereas the one served with the Nasi Bryani is the Indian version. I guess I prefer the Nonya version. Anyway I’ve to admit I’m not a fan of Nasi Bryani, so though I find the dish tasty the portion is too much for me.

After lunch, my husband took me to the market for some grocery shopping. There’re a lot of varieties of fruits and vegetables, including herbs, available here. Look at the kaleidoscopic colors of fruits!

We bought some small seedless mandarin oranges and persimmons; the oranges are rather sweet and it’s a pity we can’t find them anywhere else. Ás we moved around the various fruit stalls, one of the sellers asked me if I’m having a baby boy and I confirmed. He then gestured to 2 customers standing next to us, and said, “I told them you’re having a boy, judging from your tummy shape. It’s pointy, not round.” Yep, I get that a lot; many people (stranger or otherwise) would say to me that from my tummy shape, they can tell the gender of the baby.

Anyway we continued with our shopping and bought a large bag of various vegetables like celery, potatoes, carrots, so that we could make a chicken vegetable soup, in addition to okra and others, all for only S$11.20.

We didn’t buy any meat since we didn’t have a cooler bag with us but I took a couple of pictures of the meat stalls. This is one selling goat meat.

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Below is a stall selling fresh chicken, which tastes better than the frozen chicken available in supermarkets.

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My husband teased me that I was too chi chi for the market, because I was walking gingerly around and I seemed a little uncomfortable with the surrounding. I admit I did feel a little like fish out of water.

Anyway the other day, I was brought to another market nearer to home, located at Block 216 Bedok Central. The stalls are smaller here, and the produce not as varied as that available in Tekka. But I find the Bedok market has more room to move around.

This is a vegetable stall run by a Malay couple whom we bought our vegetables from, and they’re really cheap.

Next to it is another vegetable stall which has this coconut shredder that I haven’t seen for a long time, since my teenage days. I think you can only find this in the wet market now.

We bought fresh minced pork and pork ribs from this stall. The seller is rather obliging to sell us small portion of S$2 pork ribs. I guess there weren’t much meat left since we were there at about 10.30am, which would be considered a little late.

There’re fresh and cheap seafood available here. We bought 3 large squids for only S$8, which we split over 2 meals. Here in the wet market, the seller will not slice the squid for you, unlike in the supermarkets. But he’ll remove the internal organs, and even offer cooking tip. He advised us to steam the whole squid for 10 minutes before slicing it, and cook with whatever sauce we fancy. This way, we get the tender and crunchy texture. My husband followed the suggestion when he prepared the sambal squid for dinner tonight, and true enough it was pretty well done, as good as what you can get at seafood eateries, which is also a testimony to my husband’s good cooking skill.

Fresh chicken available as well. A large piece of chicken breast is only S$4.25.

If you want fresh ingredients for your cooking, you should definitely shop at the wet market everyday which is what some people, especially chefs, do. Not only do you get good quality ingredients, but they’re also cheaper compared to the supermarkets. The downsides are no aircon, no basket/shopping cart available, and you’ve to pay in cash. Still I see a number of housewives shopping at the wet market, even though there is a supermarket located a stone’s throw away. Unlike the market of the past, this one doesn’t smell bad nor is it dirty or wet. In fact despite the lack of aircon, it doesn’t feel warm which I guess is due to adequate ventilation.

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