One of the first dishes I learned to cook was my granny's chicken soup as I wanted to keep the heritage recipes of my grandma, and help my mum with the festive cooking whenever possible.
How old were you when you started cooking? 35 years old.
Personal wish: I would love to bake a birthday cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and a fruit tart for my wife to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary this year.
Jeffrey Yeo , Family Cook under Training Plates
It has been said that chicken soup is soul food – I completely agree. Most families would have a handy chicken soup recipe of their own. The one I have is a heritage recipe that my granny used to cook when she was the boss of the kitchen 40 years ago. I grew up drinking her chicken soup during festivals such as the Chinese New Year celebrations, or during ancestral worship festivals like Qing Ming, or the anniversaries of my ancestors. I am a huge chicken fan. My granny knew this and would always set aside two drumsticks for me.
My mum took over the cooking when my granny passed away. The family chicken soup became more of a regular fixture over family gatherings, especially when my sisters had their kids, and mum needed to cook something nutritious and tasty quickly to feed her hungry grandchildren.
I started picking up cooking about four to five years ago. At first, it was purely out of necessity as I used to live on my own in a lovely walk-up HDB apartment right next to Tiong Bahru market. Necessity became passion as I developed the love of cooking. One of the first dishes I learned to cook was my granny’s chicken soup as I wanted to keep the heritage recipes of my grandma, and help my mum with the festive cooking whenever possible.
Over the years, as my cooking knowledge and ability improved, I made “upgrades” to my granny’s chicken soup, which helped to enhance its flavour, and yet stay true to its roots. For instance, there will always be two tins of Narcissus-brand mushrooms; the soup is always cooked with two cuts of chicken – feet included; and there will always be Ikan Tenggiri fish maw.
I have introduced simple additions such as adding lightly crushed and toasted coriander seeds and white peppercorns; browning the chicken with the ginger, garlic, and sesame oil before cooking. I have also started a habit of making reserve stock with a whole boiled chicken to add to the soup as it is usually consumed over a couple of days.
These days, I reserve the drumsticks for my wife and soon, for my 14-month old daughter, Edith. I hope my granny would be proud of my rendition of her chicken soup and my effort in keeping her heritage recipe alive in My Singapore Food!