Pamelia Chia's cookbook Wet Market To Table targets young adults
Singaporean chef-turned-author Pamelia Chia is a wet market warrior.
She champions Singapore unique food culture in her debut cookbook Wet Market To Table, which takes a modern approach to cooking fruits and vegetables only wet markets in South-east Asia can offer.
It features 25 uncommon ingredients, ranging from celtuce and fingerroot to snake gourd and tatsoi.
Soursop, for example, is turned into a delicious snack (swordfish and soursop kueh pie tee), while the familiar jambu is used as the key ingredient in a galette and lotus root is made into crispy chips.
In Wet Market To Table - available at major bookstores for $48.04 - Ms Chia, 28, also explores the world of the wet market, offering tips for young Singaporeans who may not have explored these places, and sharing stories of some vendors.
Ms Chia never used to be a regular market-goer as she felt they were "foreign and intimidating", but she has changed since.
She told The New Paper: "Fruits and vegetables are the most exciting part of the market to me, because meat is the same everywhere, while many of the fruits and vegetables in our wet markets are unique to the region. I believe in sustainability and in cooking mainly with ingredients that only your region can supply."
She added: "Through multiple visits, (the wet market's) charm grew on me. I felt the humanity of the wet market."
Ms Chia graduated with an honours degree in food science and technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, but decided to swap her lab coat for chef whites and ended up cooking at Michelin-starred restaurant Candlenut from 2016 to 2017.
She is now based in Melbourne with her agricultural scientist husband, who has fuelled her passion for and knowledge of fruits and vegetables.
Wet Market To Table is geared towards her age group - young Singaporean adults.
Ms Chia said: "Most local cookbooks target aunties and are not as comprehensive as Western cookbooks out there.
"Foodies tend to buy Western cookbooks, not our local cookbooks because the latter tend to use ingredients like MSG and chicken stock cubes. My book has more natural ingredients."
It also showcases her inventive recipes that take on a fusion bent, with photographs of the ingredients with their English and dialect names side by side.
"I want to make young people interested in using these traditional ingredients, buying them from the wet market.
"My aim is to expand how we usually use local ingredients by being more imaginative and sharing recipes that feel modern. The book is designed in a way relevant to this time."
Her top three recommendations are taro croquettes as they "highlight the versatility of taro and our heritage", her grandmother-in-law's boneless glutinous-rice-stuffed chicken using water chestnuts, and crispy pork with Thai basil dipping sauce, a pork belly recipe "perfect for novices".