Chewy bread on a roll
As much as I love eating otah with nasi lemak, the best way to enjoy it, I think, is with bread.
There is something very comforting about the resulting sandwich; the heat of the spices tempered a little by the bread.
Most times, however, the bread is mediocre. The spicy fish paste is usually enveloped in flabby white bread with no flavour, or those eerily soft buns that stay that way for days on end.
Bread Society has come up with something much better.
Its Otah & Cheese ($4.50, top right) is a pretty swirl of a loaf. The spiced mackerel filling is lively and flavourful, with just enough chilli to make it interesting. There is cheddar cheese in it too, but the flavour is lost. Not that I am complaining, since the otah is really the star.
What surprises is the bread, which is leavened with natural yeast derived from fruit.
The dough is allowed to proof for 16 hours and this long rising time develops plenty of flavour. Toast it and who will want to eat those unnaturally soft breads any more?
Also made with natural yeast is Matcha Yuzu ($6.90 a loaf). This leaf-shaped loaf does not taste much of the tea, but the pieces of candied yuzu and the red bean worked into the dough make their presence felt.
Neither of these adds too much sweetness. And while the bread has a good chew, it is not as heavy as the Europeanstyle loaves I like.
It seems a happy compromise designed to entice people away from unnaturally soft bread.
I hope it works.
Natural yeast loaves from Bread Society, 01-301/302 Suntec City, tel: 6338-4344 and B4-08/09 Ion Orchard, tel: 6509-4434. Open: 7.30am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday), 7.30am to 11pm (Friday and Saturday), 9am to 10pm (Sunday)
Spread out the goodness
It is ironic that these nut and seed butters sit right next to bread in the supermarket.
They make good spreads but really, so many people have sworn off bread and other food with gluten that they should really sit on the condiments aisle.
Still, for those of us who still eat it, these are interesting alternatives to the usual jam and peanut butter. I won’t include butter because there is no alternative to that.
Biona Organic Coconut Bliss ($19.95 for a 250g jar, centre) is made with milled coconut flesh, and if the label is to be believed, nothing else is added.
It tastes just like coconut candy, without the big sugar hit, and I love it spread on toast. The natural sweetness of the coconut is all that is needed. I have also stirred it into breakfast oats and it can be used in smoothies.
Also from Biona is Organic Chilli Peanut ($9.95 for a 250g jar, right), with just peanuts, sea salt and chilli.
Use this as a base for a peanut sauce for noodles. Add soya sauce, mirin and a bit of water and whisk to thin it out into the consistency of heavy cream, so it will cling to the noodles.
Again, if avoiding carbs, the dressing would be good in a salad with poached chicken and greens.
Meridian Organic’s Pumpkin Seed Butter ($9.95 for a 170g jar) is another good find and best of all, has only one ingredient on the label – the seeds.
Its intense flavour is great on breakfast toast but it can also be added to muffin or cake batter. A great suggestion from the label is to stir it into pasta, like you would pesto. Now that will really jazz up dinner. Just add grilled chicken or prawns, and some baby spinach or grilled zucchini.
Spreads from Meidi-Ya Supermarket, B1-50 Liang Court, tel: 6339-1111, open: 10am to 10pm daily
Coffee and cream in a chocolate
There are some baristas who will not make you a mocha because they cannot understand why anybody would want to mix coffee and chocolate. But I am a plebeian and I love the combination.
These elements come together very well in Baratti E Milano’s ever-so-smooth Subalpino. As a bonus, there is cream and hazelnut too.
Such delicious bon bons they are. Under the hazelnut milk chocolate shell is a layer of cream and a lightly boozy coffee centre.
None of the layers stand out on their own. Instead, when you pop one, the smooth chocolate, the light kick of the coffee and the cream will make you smile.
Baratti E Milano Subalpino, $28.04 for a 150g box from Dolcetto by Basilico, Lobby Level, Regent Singapore, tel: 6720-8000, open: 7.30am to 9pm daily
Eat your Earl Grey
Now instead of having a cup of Earl Grey tea with a biscuit, you can have a biscuit flavoured with the tea and lemon.
This cookie from Marks & Spencer lives up to the “all butter” promise on the packaging too. It is rich and speckled with ground-up tea leaves.
Now both the tea and lemon flavours could be a lot more intense, but the butter stands in their way. And that is why I am not quibbling. All butter, all good.
All Butter Earl Grey Tea & Lemon Biscuits, $9.90 for a 150g box from Marks & Spencer stores. For the list of locations, go to global.marksandspencer.com/sg