This dish reminds me of the invaluable friendships that I have made, these friends who were my comfort in a strange land when I was homesick.
How old were you when you started cooking? Maybe 6? I started making pancakes. I tried making one in the shape of a car, but it came out looking like a poodle instead.
Personal wish related to cooking: I wish that I would one day overcome my addiction to Korean instant ramen. Soon. Because it’s not helping with my weight and hair loss situation.
Bjorn Shen , Crazy guy of Artichoke
I first tasted this unique fusion dish when I was an undergraduate in Brisbane, Australia. To be honest, I can’t recall exactly how and who came up with this recipe, but I do remember that it was one of the favourite meals that my Singaporean housemates and I would cook once in a while.
This dish is basically pasta aglio olio with lots of garlic and chilli, with the twist of kana chai, a type of Chinese preserved olives. The preserved olives were easily available at the Asian grocer, and with the other ingredients being basic pantry essentials; my housemates and I could whip up an inexpensive delicious filling meal in less than 20 minutes! If you have pasta, a couple of eggs and a jar of kana chai sitting in your cupboard, with some chilli and garlic lying around, you’ve got yourself a full meal. Too easy. That was always a good thing when we were uni students with tonnes of assignments due, as well as part-time jobs to hold down. And definitely cheaper than Macdonald’s or Subway.
When I moved to Australia, I lived in a suburb where there were not many good Asian restaurants, not to mention Singaporean or Malaysian food. After many meals of sandwiches, pizza, roast dinners, kebabs and Aussie-fied Asian takeout, I would be hankering for something garlicky, spicy and slurpy. Whenever I crave for homely food, this dish always hit the spot. Think of it as a warm hug on a cold day!
When living overseas, friends inevitably become your second family. This dish reminds me of the invaluable friendships that I have made, these friends who were my comfort in a strange land when I was homesick, and who eventually became my second family.
With this recipe recorded on My Singapore Food, I hope that I can inspire other Singaporeans that live abroad, or are about to, to cook and eat this dish, and to cherish the friendships that you make.