Friday, February 23, 2007

Singapore Food Series: Meal Made From Leftovers

From Top Left clockwise: (1)Pockets of sheer delight, Tofu cakes sliced open like a Bagel and filled with: duck meat, belly pork, fish cakes, chopped Chinese sausage, prawn fritters, pig's tongue, pig's ear's, duck liver, cucumber, boiled squid. (2) The Chili sauce that you dip the Tau Kwa Pau into: a spicy, piquant mixture of chili, vinegar, the gravy from braising the pig and duck, garlic, onion and green chili [peppers]. (3) The stall: you can see the whole braised duck hanging, and other parts in the trays below.
Many years ago, a hawker in Katong [a district on the Eastern side of Simgapore sold braised duck, belly pork, pig's tongue, fish balls, Chinese sausage, fried prawn fritters, duck eggs and tofu cakes. This was eaten with cucumbers, and a fantastic sauce made of chilli, vinegar,sliced green chilli, and the brown gravy left fom the braising. On some days he couldn't finish selling all his food. So he came up with the ingenious idea of chopping up all the leftovers including the cucumber, and putting them in a slit pocket of the tofu cakes. Thus was born the Tow Kwa Pau of Katong. There were only two such stalls. The original Tow Kwa Pau man who used to sell in Joo Chiat Place has retired, or is dead. The remaining one at the corner of Joo Chiat and East Coast Rd is thriving. [I hope, as I have not been back to Singapore for 2 years]. Some enterprising man, tried to duplicate this food dish and start a franchise in food courts all over the island, but I find the franchised Tow Kwa Pau horrible in taste.
The price of one Tow Kua Pau is about 70 U.S. cents, and four ought to fill up the stomach of any man with a healthy appetite. You can also order rice, and a side order of duck, pig's tongue, pig's ears, fish balls,egg,or fried prawn fritters . It must be eaten with liberal doses of the chilli sauce, for this is what makes it delicious. Once in a while, bite a piece of the cut green chilli, and you are in Heaven.

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