Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eat Well within Budget

Family meals can be healthy and delicious without blowing your budget.  These dishes are also easy to prepare at home.  So before you are planning for which restaurant or zi char stall for your next weekend dinner, why not try this simple and healthy 3 plus 1 meal?

3 plus 1 Menu (serves 6)
Old Cucumber Pork Ribs Soup (老黄瓜排骨汤)
Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf (荷叶蒸鸡)
Cauliflower & Mix Vegetables Stir Fry (炒什锦)
Baby Spinach with Silver Fish in Stock (笕菜银鱼上汤)

I did a quick estimation of the cost involved, and it costs less than S$4 per person!

Old Cucumber Soup: S$8.50
Pork ribs: S$4.50, old cucumber: S$1.80, few dried oysters/clam shell: S$1.70, others: S$0.50

Steamed Chicken in Lotus Leaf: S$6.50
2 big chicken legs: S$4.00, 1 Chinese sausage/4 Chinese mushrooms: S$1.50, lotus leaf/others: S$1.00

Mix Vegetables Stir Fry: S$4.00
Cauliflower: S$1.30, green peas/carrot/shitake mushrooms/tofu puffs: S$1.00, fish cake: S$0.70, minced pork: S$1.00

Baby Spinach with Silver Fish: S$3.50
Baby spinach: S$2.00, 1 salted egg: S$0.40, silver fish: S$0.50, homemade ikan bilis stock: S$0.60 (reserved a little stock for mix vegetables stir-fry)

Total estimated cost: S$22.50

Click Here for more menu ideas.

Baby Spinach with Silver Fish in Stock

Baby spinach in stock is a very popular dish served in restaurant.  But why pay so much when you can easily prepare this at home.  Trust me, even if you are new to cooking, you can whip up this dish in a flash.

You will need:
2 bundles baby spinach, discard roots portion and rinse thoroughly in water
1 salted egg yolk, steamed (I steamed in rice cooker while cooking rice)
2 to 3 tbsp silver fish, rinse and pat dry in kitchen paper
Some stock (homemade or store bought)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed in whole

1) Prepare a pot of boiling water (or you can do this using a wok).  Blanch the spinach just to soften the leaves (takes about 30 seconds).  Remove the spinach and drain away excess water.

2) Heat up a wok and add some cooking oil.  Stir fry the silver fish till crispy and nice golden brown.  Remove and set aside.  Stir fry the crushed garlic till fragrant.  Remove and set aside.

3) Mash the steamed salted egg yolk and add to the hot oil.  It will start to bubble and foam.  When the egg yolk disintegrates into the hot oil, add in the lightly blanched spinach and garlic (from step 2).  Stir and add in some stock, just halfway covering the spinach (spinach releases water as it cooks, so do not add too much stock at the beginning).

4) Cook the spinach till soften completely.  Add salt to taste (if using store bought stock, taste the dish before adding salt).  Stir in half the silver fish.

5) Serve dish with extra silver fish as garnish.


  1. Hi Fong, I like your combination of dishes for a meal and yet so economical. This meal is definitely not a burden to our body.

  2. Hi Fong, may I know where to buy the lotus leaf? Tks!

  3. Thanks, Kimmy :)

    Hi Joyce, I bought mine from Ghim Moh Wet Market (those selling dry provision). I happened to pass by there and saw it hanging among many other provisions.

  4. Your budget meals are simple to cook but yet still sound delicious!

  5. Hi Fong, thanks for sharing!


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