Oh dear, no Bambi
Celebrity Chow with S'pore-based Aussie actor Keagan Kang
There is nothing like catching your own seafood.
Fishing might be remote and foreign to many busy Singaporean city-dwellers, but to Singapore-based half-Teochew Australian actor Keagan Kang, it forms the cornerstone of his childhood memories.
"I lived by the beach in Perth and it was very common for my family to catch our own fish, bring it back fresh, clean it, cook it," recalled the suave 38-year-old leading man of Channel 5 legal drama Code Of Law over a hearty lunch with M at Intrepid Gastro Bar, a cosy Aussie eatery at Far East Square.
"It was part of the Western Australian culture. I learnt how to fish by the age of five, and my first catch was a blowfish. It's poisonous and you have to throw it back into the ocean immediately."
He added: "I also caught whiting, which is a much bigger version of Singapore's ikan bilis. They are staples and can be found easily in shallow waters and sand banks."
Kang, who oozes rugged, masculine charm with handyman skills, also claims he can "fix up anything in the house, save for plumbing". He surprised me with his soft spot for adorable animals.
Looking at the plate of kangaroo sliders in front of us - along with other mouth-watering delights such as Aussie Angus ribeye, Feral smoked beer ribs, corn salsa and vegetables - Kang sighed.
"Actually, I'm not a big fan of kangaroo meat, because it reminds me of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, the cute star pet of an Australian TV series," he said.
"Likewise, I don't usually eat deer because of (animated character) Bambi."
Tell us more about your love for seafood.
I love pretty much everything from the sea. Now and then, a nice steak is great, but most of the time, I prefer seafood.
Besides fishing, I used to do a lot of crabbing. During the crab season, my family would take out our crab nets and head off to Mandurah, a city situated on the coastline of Perth, just to catch crabs.
In Singapore, you can find a few places (for crabbing) at East Coast Park, but they're still rather limited compared to Tioman island in Malaysia.
When I was a kid, one of my ambitions was to become a marine biologist!
You've been based in Singapore since 1998. What are some of your favourite local dishes?
My favourite local dish is wanton mee. I love the flavour, the texture of the noodles, the mixture of fried wonton, steamed wonton, char siew and vegetables. It's a combination of everything I like.
I used to visit a hawker stall at the corner of River Valley Road very often. The way the owner cooked his noodles was just perfect. And he would give me additional items like mushrooms. It's a pity that the stall is no longer there.
I love dim sum, and there's a great place at Lavender, Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant, which serves fantastic chicken feet and siew mai (pork dumplings).
Another one of my all-time favourite dishes is Teochew porridge, as it reminds me of home. Growing up, whenever I fell sick in Australia, my grandma would cook porridge for me.
I also like sweet and sour fish, sambal stingray and nasi lemak at Ponggol Nasi Lemak.
In February, you opened a 50-seater liquor retail kiosk, The Papa Shop, at CT Hub Kallang. What are your favourite drinks?
I love red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, and Scotch. If you're talking about beers, I prefer craft beers (brewed in microbreweries) as each of these beers has its own story.
Appreciating craft beers is akin to acting. You try to decipher the complicated layers of your character to give a solid performance. Likewise, there are so many different layers in each craft beer's taste.
Which Australian restaurants do you usually patronise in Singapore?
I'm a huge fan of the Australian Football League (AFL), so I like hanging out at Boomarang Bistro & Bar at Robertson Quay, which televises the AFL matches. Boomarang has Pure Blonde, an Aussie low carb beer, on tap.