Posts Tagged ‘toa payoh’

wet markets

October 1, 2009

Gathered from the Straits Times yesterday that Sheng Siong had bought over wet markets in Serangoon North, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang and Fajar Road. I never knew there were privately owned wet markets and government owned wet markets. In this case, the markets sold were privately owned.

Yes. This is reality and it is inevitable. BUT. I feel a tinge of sadness and pain, for both the residents and stall holders. Wet markets are part of our culture, the heart of a neighbourhood. Relationships are cultivated over the years as prices are haggled and compared amongst residents and stallholders. They knew one another. After getting the best deals of the day, they would stop to chit chat or proceed to the adjoining hawker centre for kopi and gossip sessions. In my case, due to the generation gap *haha*, the aunties and uncles show their appreciation (for my patronage) by asking about my family and giving me loads of spring onions, big & small chillis, coriander and limes FOR FREE!

Chain supermarkets simply lack that personalised feel. I shiver at the thought of more cold and smile-less foreigners manning the cash counters at the supermarkets (think food courts). Sigh.

I hope the market I patronise at Toa Payoh Lorong 4 will never be bought over. What would the old aunties and uncles do? What would they survive on? The only thing they are good at *and darn proud of* are the veggies and fishies they sell. Trust me, the dried beancurd (tau kee) sold in the markets, for example, is way better in quality and cheaper than the ones vacuum packed and sold in the supermarkets.

I object to the buyover and wonder if there are government agencies that can protect this little remaining heartland culture before another megamart destroys the urbanscape?



The very old uncle I was talking about previously (top left photo). He is very very V E R Y  S L O W.

Toa Payoh is the oldest (greying) estate with a mix of low/high rise flats with commercial activities on the ground floor. I like it for its intimate urban scale and organic street life between the blocks. Provision shops up since 6am, spill their goodies onto the landscaped pedestrian streets, peppered with many benches for old residents to rest on. I also like the very old-school kaya and butter toast in the hawker centre. They serve a mean kopi and soft boiled egg that is cooked ‘just right’. Here, I would ‘eavesdrop’ on the ah peks’ and ah mahs’ conversations as they chat away in Cantonese over breakfast. Hehe.



This is an example of early urban planning concept adopted by HDB. It was designed as the Town Centre and located next to the bus interchange and the MRT Station. Instead of adopting a ‘one mall fits all concept’ like today, low rise flats with shops on the ground floor would line the many pedestrian streets cutting through the centre.

The pictures were taken at 9am this morning. When the shops are open, it is a really fun and bustling place to explore.


The louvres caught my attention. It must work well against the rain since there are no glass panels behind it. The louvres and glass windows can be opened to reveal a full height opening for ventilation and view. Neat.

Do check out Toa Payoh Lorong 4 and Toa Payoh Central. When you do, do not forget to try Gen Shu *wink*. Yup this is what brought me to the market in the 1st place.


lotus root soup + steam fish

September 1, 2009

The high costs of ingredients in my estate’s market has driven me to get my supply of fresh goodies from Toa Payoh at 2/3 the price here. I would take a lift in my FIL’s car to Bishan MRT Station and join the others on their trainrides to work. I like it! Hehe. Being the odd one out, I am ALWAYS amused. ME in my T-shirts, berms and flip flops vs THEM in dresses and heels.

OK. Back to the market. My conclusion is this, Jurong is STILL the CHEAPEST. Alas, Jurong is on the other side of Singapore. Sigh. Since Toa Payoh is an established estate with MANY elderly residents, the prices are pretty reasonable. In fact, the stalls are all manned by old aunties and uncles in their 60s-70s! For one particular stall, the uncle was so old, you queue to pay whilst he slowly lifts each basket of veggies to weigh!

So here it is! My fresh buys from Toa Payoh’s Wet Market.




> 600g Pork Bones (or chicken)

> 10 Dried Red Dates & Wolfberry

> 3 Dried Oysters

> 1 Lotus Root (10cm diameter, 20cm length)

> 2 Litres Water

> Salt to taste

Put the pork bones into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil a further 5 mins to remove the blood. Wash the cooked pork bones and scrape off any traces of blood. Discard used water. Prepare another 2 Litres of water and place the pork bone into the pot. Bring to a boil. Add the sliced Lotus Root, Red Dates, Wolfberry and Oysters and boil another 30mins-1hour. Simmer on low fire for a further 4 hours.

If the soup tastes bland due to excess water, just increase the boiling time to intensify the flavours.

The Lotus Roots sold in the markets are covered in mud. Just wash the mud off, peel the skin off the root and slice.


steamed fish


> Fresh Fish  (check with the Fishmonger which to steam or fry)

> Salt

> Chinese Wine

> ‘Old’ Ginger (sliced)

> Spring Onions (cut to 1 inch length)

> 1 tbsp Light Soya Sauce

> 1 tsp Sesame Oil

Clean out the gills and all. There is a huge vein running along the rib of the fish which you can see from the opened belly. Make sure that vein is removed (before freezing as well). This would remove the fishy smell from the fish. Rub salt over the fish. Drizzle Chinese Wine over. Stuff Ginger slices and Spring Onions into the fish stomach. Plate the fish. Lay the remaining ginger slices and spring onions above and below the fish. Cling wrap and refrigerate until use.

Boil water in a wok or other steaming appliance. After the water has boiled, place the plate of fish into the wok and steam for 7-10mins (depending on the size of the fish). Poke the fish with a fork. If the meat comes loose easily, it is cooked. Drizzle Light Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil over. Garnish with chopped onions, chinese parsley, fried garlic or fried onions. Serve.

Fresh fish – Choose fishes with bright clear eyes, bright red gills (when you lift the gills) and firm meat.

Tell me how it goes!