Home cooking with Chef Shen Tan

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The Wok & Barrel’s chef talks about Australian TV chef Bill Granger, the importance of having 'guinea pigs' and her plans for a monthly supper club

First published on 5 Dec 2011. Updated on 13 Jun 2012.

Photo by Lester Ledesma

What meal do you most like to cook at home?
I like to cook dinner at home, especially on Mondays when The Wok & Barrel is closed and I am able to prepare a nice meal for my partner and myself: a double-cut Kurobuta pork chop with a side of crispy fries.
Where did you learn to cook the dish and how long does it take to make?
It doesn't take very long to prepare. You just need to marinate the pork chops, which I do in the same marinade we use for our crispy pork in the restaurant. I sear it off in a cast iron pan, which gives it a delightful char, and finish it off in the broiler. I normally serve it with a side of fries and steamed kailan or broccolini (if in season). It has a tremendous nutty and rich flavour from the fat running through the pork chop.
Do you also serve this dish at Wok & Barrel?
This is not on the menu but I am thinking of doing a monthly supper club and this dish would be part of the six-course menu I’m planning.
Where do you shop for the ingredients?
I love to shop at Oh Deli (421 East Coast Rd, 6440 4409; www.ohdeli.com.sg) which supplies us with our meats and cheeses. It also has a great range of organic produce. I also like to poke around at Geylang Serai and Tekka Market for more local vegetables.
What are the three ingredients you always make sure to have in your fridge?
I always have pork, butter and chilli.

Do you tend to entertain guests at home? Who’s your dream guest?
I do have guests over, some friends and family. They are the guinea pigs for the mad, wacky ideas that are swirling in my head. My dream guest would be (chef) Bill Granger because he has a fantastic palate and has the ability to put flavours together without complicated processes. I would cook him a simple pasta of prawns, chilli and baby spinach but with the best and freshest ingredients.
What would you cook for kids?
I would concentrate on making a meal that doesn't have too many spices or aromatics. Like fried chicken.
If you were invited to a potluck dinner, what would you bring?
I would bring my kong bah (braised pork). See recipe below.
What’s one home-cooked dish that you’ll never get sick of?
Noodles with chilli and luncheon meat.
What are the other ingredients for a memorable home-cooked meal?
Good wine and beer, and comfortable chairs.
Chef Shen Tan’s braised pork
1kg of pork shoulder
300g peeled shallots, sliced
2 cloves/half a stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
light soy sauce
dark soy sauce (sticky sweet)
sugar to taste
Steam the pork shoulder until par-cooked; slice it into 5cm wide pieces. Fry the shallots with the spices till brown, then add the sliced pork with juices from steaming. Add water, soy sauce and sugar to taste. Boil until pork is tender. Serve immediately.

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By James P. Ong
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