Can fried oyster omelette taste good without pork lard?
I was sceptical, but 01-1080 Fried Oyster, which uses its unit number as its stall name, at People's Park Food Centre won me over with its version, which has crispy edges and a soft gooey inside made from a batter of plain flour and corn flour.
The oysters are fairly large, juicy and have that clean briny taste of the sea without any of that unpleasant odour. The stall uses Korean frozen oysters.
The stall sells two types of oyster omelettes. Its Fried Oyster ($5/$8/$10) is orh luak or orh jian, which is fried oyster omelette with batter. It also sells Oyster Omelette ($8/$10), which is orh neng, made without the sticky batter.
I usually order the $5 Fried Oyster - made with two eggs and which comes with five oysters - with an extra $2 worth of oysters, which gets me an extra four to five oysters.
For those who prefer oyster omelette without the sticky batter, the omelette here is fluffy and tender.
01-1080 FRIED OYSTER
01-1080 People's Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road; open: 10am to 9.30pm daily
The secret? A small amount of the plain flour and corn flour batter is beaten with the eggs, giving the omelette a velvety texture.
The stall has not used pork lard since it began in 2014.
Stall co-owner Tay Kian Tiong, 53, who started the business with his late younger brother, says they wanted to cater to customers who prefer food not cooked in lard oil. Also, as it is time-consuming to slice and fry pork lard, they found it more convenient to use vegetable oil.
But it was a challenge to replicate the old-fashioned taste of fried oyster omelette without the use of pork lard. Mr Tay's solution is to use top-quality fish sauce to give the fried oyster omelette its characteristic savoury seafood flavour.
The stall also uses its own blend of dried chilli and spices, which is used in the cooking of the fried oyster omelette with batter.
The stall has five chefs, including Mr Tay and his 34-year-old nephew, Mr Eric Tay, who co-owns and runs the stall with him.
Every three days, the elder Mr Tay prepares a fresh batch of the chilli vinegar dip that is made from dried chillies, white rice vinegar and sugar.
He has kept closely to the methods of food preparation and cooking passed down from his mother, who used to sell fried oyster omelette, but has since retired.
He adds in Mandarin: "It requires more labour and time to prepare certain ingredients the traditional way, but we cannot change everything or we will lose that old-school taste."