Jamón Ibérico and Sherry Tasting


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On a random Thursday night, Sean and I decided to begin our education on Jamón Ibérico and Sherry. Pim Pam, which we’d both loved the last time we visited, was holding an Iberico Ham Fiesta and was featuring a live carving station of Joselito’s Vintage Iberico Ham 2009. Basically, a unique 9-year-old hulk of delicious aged ham leg. And boy, did it whet our curiosity and appetites.

Let’s go back to the basics to learn what actually differentiates Iberico Ham from all others. Generally, brown Iberico pigs are allowed to graze in a broad open parkland. They are grass-fed and in winter, are fattened on acorns. After 18 months, they are slaughtered and cured with sea salt and go through years of natural drying.

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Dry hanging the ham allows it to sweat gently, breaking down the fat, and allowing it to seep into the muscle. This produces a special micro-marbling that’s detectable only when a slice of it is held to the light. It is actually the diet of acorns that give the Iberico its sweet, melt-in-the-mouth nuttiness. Usually, they’re hung up to dry for about 6 years. This bad boy here has been aged 9 years.

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Just look at that unique marbling! We’d tried different hams including iberico, serrano and others at the La Boqueria Market in Barcelona. And what’s truly distinctive about this 2009 Joselito is that it had a more complex, stronger flavour than the other hams i’d tasted. It had a distinctive nutty aroma, and the fat which melts in the mouth was slightly sweet. We were told this was because of the late fattening period of the pigs with irregular rainfall which favoured the preservation of the acorn.

It was absolutely divine on its own. So good we ordered a full portion ($40). A leg of premium vintage ham can go for up to 3000 Euros, so this was quite a steal.

We were game to try it with other tapas dishes too — like this FOC Eggs ($18).

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This was the 2009 jamon with breadcrumbed slow-cooked egg, roasted potato cream, topped with deep-fried kale. Loved how runny the egg was in the middle. That delicious gooeyness went perfectly with the mash and savoury chewiness of the ham. Absolutely delish!

We also tried it in the Steam Bun ($16/pc) form.

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Somehow this was much less satisfying. It could be that there was too little ham in it, the fact that the rocket leaves and cream cheese totally clashed with the flavours of the ham, or that the buns were overwhelming the thin slices of meat. We thought this wasn’t great use of such amazing ham.

But on to the Sherry! It was another favourite part of the meal.

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We went for two flights of 6 different kinds of Sherry — (from left)

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  1. Lastau Almacenista Fino del Puerto “Gonzales Obregon”
  2. Lustau 3 En Rama Manzanilla de Sanlucar Sacar 2017
  3. Gonzalez Byass Del Duque VORS
  4. Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe En Rama 2017
  5. Lustau Almancenista Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar

 

Our personal favourite has got to be the Byass Del Duque VORS — the one right in the middle with that gorgeous caramel brown colour.

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Review: Xin Cuisine Dim Sum, Holiday Inn Atrium


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Xin Cuisine has always been a family favourite when it comes to both dependable dim sum and decent dinners. And on mom’s birthday this year, we decided to celebrate here with a hearty, delicious brunch.

Let’s start with the obvious mouthwatering slices of decadence that is the Barbecued Suckling Pig with Foie Gras, Yam & Japanese Cucumber (see above). We all loved what they’ve done with this dish — delicate, crispy pork skin, layered with thinly-sliced creamy foie gras, a sliver of deep fried yam and some Japanese cucumber for a refreshing crunch. The result? A beautiful explosion of fatty flavours in the mouth. Warning. One portion might not be enough.

And then, we have the dim sum staple, Siew Mai.

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This was also very well done with juicy, well marinated pork, fresh prawns and skin that isn’t too thick. It’s topped with a green coloured caviar which is somewhat disorienting, but overall the flavours were great.

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Next up, the Stewed Pork with Ground Nuts.

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Asian Cooking: Mom’s Claypot Rice Recipe


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One of my most favourite dishes growing up is this giant pot of my mom’s homemade claypot rice.

I always loved how we’d huddle round the dining table, waiting for the moment where she’d lift the lid of the pot. All those magical flavours would come wafting out and make all our mouths water. One of my favourite memories growing up ever!

Today, you’re in for a real treat, as mom share’s her special recipe.

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Ingredients: (1 Pot, serves 4)
– 2 Pork Sausages
– 10-15 Baby Shitake mushrooms
– 1 Kampong Chicken (chopped and skinned)
– 3 cups of White Rice
– Dried Shrimps (soaked in hot water, finely-chopped)
– Dried Scallops (10 pieces soaked in hot water)
– Large prawns
– 2 slices of Ginger

Condiments:
– Dried Shallots
– Lard cubes
– Salted fish
– Spring Onions

Begin by frying all Chinese sausages, shallots, dried shrimp and salted fish separately. These will form the flavour profile of the rice and give it that distinctive fragrance.

Save the salted fish oil for the rice and chicken.

 

Next, fry ginger slices in some of the salted fish oil, and add chicken. Fry till half-cooked then throw in shitake mushrooms. Fry for another 5 minutes. Add water, and black sauce. Simmer to boil for 10 minutes over a medium fire, followed by 20 minutes over small fire. This makes the meat juicy and tender. Set aside.

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Travel: A Sunset Tour of Frankfurt City, Germany


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Germany’s Frankfurt city might sometimes be overlooked for its more exciting cousins – Berlin, Munich and even Hamburg. The word picturesque doesn’t often come to mind when people think of this bustling commercial centre. And yet, that’s exactly what I found when I spent a day there while waiting for my flight home.

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Perhaps it was because it was languishing in the rose gold glow of the evening sun. Or that I was lucky enough to encounter perfect weather. Either way, I was smitten with this underrated city. Sometimes, when you expect nothing, everything becomes a beautiful surprise.

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Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. Much like Shanghai is to China. And yes, parts of the city reflect that lean, mean machine. But much of it is steeped in history and gorgeous architecture.

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Take The Römer (German surname, “Roman”) for example. It’s an iconic medieval building that’s also one of the city’s most important landmarks. It was built around 1612, and served mainly as the city’s town hall.

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Loved the unique look of the building! Taking a slow stroll to the city will inevitably lead you to the river Frankfurt on the Main and of course, the Eiserner Steg or Iron Bridge.

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Just look at that gorgeous setting sun over the sparkling, still waters. A vein of calm running right through the city’s frenzied, beating heart.

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