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The foodies of 40,000 feet: At home with your Singapore Airlines crew

by on June 25, 2020
 

If you ask anyone what they love most about travel, you will undoubtedly hear “I travel for the food”. Travellers, let’s face it, are always (often subconscious) foodies. Even in our homes and city streets, the aroma of a dish will suddenly transport our minds to destinations we once visited. It might be a steamy bowl of laksa, a delectable gnocchi or something more exotic which conjures these memories. For now, while the world crawls its way out of a pandemic, they must remain just that – memories. You can visit a place a hundred times and experience all its sights and sounds, but there’ll always be more to discover with food. Who better to ask but some of the most well travelled people you’ll meet – the cabin crew at Singapore Airlines. They have shared with us some of the dishes that have inspired them through their careers in the sky.

Mitchelle Chua Seok Hoon Inflight Manager & Air Sommelier

Foodie Mitchelle Chua, Inflight Manager & Air Sommelier

Ingredients

1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon of cumin or turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, cayenne pepper,
chilli powder or Bon Cabe chili flakes
4-6 fresh eggs
2 tablespoons of parsley or cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Heat oil and sauté onion and red pepper for 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and spices and stir consistently for 2 minutes.
3. Pour in the whole can of tomatoes, stir and cover with lid. Let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes at low heat.
4. After 15 minutes, add salt and pepper to suit your taste.
5. Turn off the heat. Make 4-6 well/holes in the sauce and gently crack the eggs onto the sauce.
6. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the eggs, turn on the heat, cover with lid and cook for 5-8 minutes. If you would like soft or runny eggs, cook for 5 minutes.
7. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.
8. Serve with toast or crusty bread.
Note 2: You can adjust the spice amount to suit your preference.
Note 3: If you would like a more robust meal, add in some chicken, lamb, beef mince at step 2.

Q: How long you have been with SIA?
Mitchelle: I have been flying for a total of 21 years and 6 months (close to 22 years)

Q: Why do you like cooking and what sparked your interest?
Mitchelle: I like to cook, and I bake too, because I like to eat fresh and healthy food, and I love the smell of freshly baked bread!
Cooking relieves me of my stress, and the kitchen is my science lab. I love to experiment with different ingredients, create new dishes and cook various international dishes I have discovered while travelling. Last but not least, I enjoy pairing my homemade food with wines, which is more economical and sensible because I can still enjoy good food with wine pairing, and this does not burn a hole in the pocket.

Q: Where or how did you discover this dish?
Mitchelle: I chanced upon this dish on a cooking show.

Q: Why is this one of your favourite dishes?
Mitchelle: It is a simple yet flavoursome one-pot dish! It is also healthy and versatile in the use of ingredients. You can make it as a vegetarian dish or use your choice of meat mince. Most importantly, it tastes good too!

Q: Does the dish remind you of an SIA destination that you have travelled to?
Mitchelle: This dish reminds me of Middle Eastern cuisine, such as those from Istanbul and Cairo.

Q: What is a recommended wine to pair with this dish?
Mitchelle: I recommend Gewurtztraminer. Gewurtztraminer means “spicy Traminer”. This grape varietal is usually off-dry, with medium acidity and fruity notes of lychee, peach and apricot. This wine has spicy notes, which will harmonise well with the aroma of Shakshuka.

Derek Woo Mun Chung Chief Steward

Ingredients

1 tube egg tofu
1 tsp chopped garlic
100ml chicken stock
Handful of frozen mixed veg
4 prawns
1 egg

Preparation

1. Shallow fry the tofu till golden brown on each side and set aside.
2. Fry some chopped garlic with a tsp of oil.
3. Wait till garlic is fragrant and add in some rich chicken stock and season to taste.
4. Put in the defrosted mixed vegetables and prawns together.
5. Wait for the prawns to turn reddish and immediately stir in some beaten egg a little at a time.
6. If the sauce is not thick enough, you can thicken it with corn starch slurry (corn flour mixed with water).
7. Lastly, add in the tofu which you fried earlier and mix well.
8. Serve hot.

Foodie Derek Woo, Chief Steward

Q: How long you have been with SIA?
Derek: I have been flying for a total of 22 years.

Q: Why do you like cooking and what sparked your interest?
Derek: I miss my late grandmother’s cooking and decided one day to replicate her dish. There was no stopping me from then on, as I discovered that I love cooking. I cook a variety of dishes, but mainly Chinese dishes, and have ventured into baking with much success as well.

Q: Where or how did you discover this dish?
Derek: I created this easy-to-cook tofu dish, as my family loves tofu, its quick to whip up, aesthetically pleasing and so delicious.

Q: Why is this one of your favourite dishes?
Derek: Tofu is easy to cook and such a versatile ingredient. You can pan-fry, braise, deep-fry and steam it. It is also rich in nutrients, such as protein, calcium, selenium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Q: Does the dish remind you of an SIA destination that you’ve travelled to?
Derek: This dish reminds me of Hong Kong, as it is a very Cantonese based dish, featuring chicken stock with egg drop, and thickened with corn-starch slurry.

Q: What is a recommended wine to pair with this dish?
Derek: I recommend New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. This wine tends to be fermented in stainless steel vats, which results in a clean and crisp flavour. It is fresh, zesty and has an appetising acidity will not overpower the delicate tofu. Shellfish such as prawns will accentuate the herbaceous qualities of Sauvignon Blanc.

Tumpakdee Jarusiri Leading Stewardess

Foodie Tumpakdee Jarusiri, Leading Stewardess

Ingredients

500g dates
250g dried bananas
250g of cacao powder
500g of baked almonds
200g of rolled oats
250g of baked cashew
250g of mixed nuts
100g of peanut butter (optional)
Salt and honey (optional)

Preparation

1. Soak the dates and dried bananas in hot water (the amount of water to come up to just above the ingredients).
2. Blend almonds, oats, cashew into fine pieces.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together (almonds, oats, cashew, cacao powder and mixed nuts).
4. Blend the dates and dried bananas.
5. Mix all the ingredients together. Use your hand to massage the ingredients together and mix them well.
6. You will get a sticky paste, and you can add in some salt and honey if you would like to bites to be sweeter.
7. Shape the paste into small balls that are 3cm diameter (or based on your preference), coat them with cocoa powder and keep them in the fridge.

Q: How long you have been with SIA?
Jarusiri: I have been with SIA since January 2013, so it has been seven and a half years.

Q: Why do you like cooking and what sparked your interest?
Jarusiri: I love to eat and I love to take care of my health. Our body is like our main home, so I love to enrich my body with quality and healthy food, and I know my body will thank me for taking care of it. When I cook, I choose good ingredients and I am particular about cleanliness. Besides, cooking Thai food is the best way to make me feel like I’m back home in Thailand.

Q: Where or how did you discover this dish?
Jarusiri: When I flew to Australia Layover Stations, I saw many coffee juice shops were selling this type of energy balls, so I figured I can make them too, while creating them to suit my own personal taste.

Q: Why is this one of your favourite dishes?
Jarusiri: I like cacao powder, dates and nuts! I also love to exercise, so it’s an energy protein ball that I can have before or after my workouts. It contains many kinds of nuts, which are high in protein, and dates, which are high in fibre and energy. Sometimes, I bring them on board and have them during lull periods as it is a healthy snack.

Q: Does the dish remind you of an SIA destination that you’ve travelled to?
Jarusiri: This reminds me of Sydney. Once when we flew to Sydney, there was a basement food court right beside our hotel that had a variety of dishes. I liked visiting one of the stores called “Top Juice” that sells a variety of healthy foods, for example Greek Yoghurt, Bircher Muesli, Fresh Juices and energy balls. That was the first time I found out about it and when I tried it, I loved it! It became my go-to chain store to get some of my energy balls every time I visited any Australian city. It is not similar to anything that we serve on board, since the recipe I use contains lots of cacao powder and nuts. Maybe something like this could be introduced in the future as an inflight snack, since it is quite filling and gives us energy and nutrients!

Q: What is a recommended wine to pair with this dish?
Jarusiri: Port would go well with this. This snack has natural sweetness from dates and dried fruit. A sweet fortified port with a robust finish would match the richness of the crunchy and nutty snack.

Alvin Ee Kwong Beng Leading Steward

Foodie Alvin Ee, Leading Steward

Ingredients

4 × thigh meat
3 table spoons plain yoghurt
1 table spoon turmeric powder
2 table spoons maple syrup or honey
Dry parsley
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil

Preparation

1. Put the chicken inside a ziplock bag. Put in the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil.
2. Shake the bag well.
3. Leave it for at least 10 minutes.
4. When ready to eat, heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
5. Oil your oven tray with a bit of olive oil.
6. Set chicken to roast for 40 mins.
7. Check on it and coat it with a little bit of olive oil from time to time to ensure browning.
8. When your chicken is done, you will get a tender juicy texture. Plate and serve.

Q: How long you have been with SIA?
Alvin: I have been with SIA for 15 years

Q: Why do you like cooking and what sparked your interest?
Alvin: I love to feed those around me and see the smiles on their faces when my food hits the right notes on their taste buds.
Cooking is also therapeutic for me. The action of mincing, dicing and chopping just calms the mind.

Q: Where or how did you discover this dish?
Alvin: This dish was inspired by Nigella Lawson. I remember watching an episode where she put a chicken in a bag and added yoghurt and honey. Also, there was a pilot who brought his homemade food and asked me to reheat it for him. When I was plating his chicken main course, it smelled so delightful! I asked him for his recipe, and he said it only requires yoghurt and turmeric. So I went home and decided to add two and two together, and thus this beautiful dish came about.

Q: Why is this one of your favourite dishes?
Alvin: It is easy to make and the chicken just comes out really tender and tasty, especially when using thigh meat!
This easy-to-cook dish can be made in a few steps, and is also a healthy meal.

Q: Does the dish remind you of an SIA destination that you’ve travelled to?
Alvin: It reminds me of Japan. This is because the food in Japan always has a good mix of sweet and savoury.

Q: What is the recommended wine to pair with this dish?
Alvin: I recommend German Riesling. German Riesling is light, fruity and has a nervy acidity of citrus of gooseberries, green apple and pineapple. It marries well with turmeric spiced chicken.

Final Foodie notes

Singapore Airlines crew come from a part of the world that is renowned for its food. So they know food. Not to risk being outdone, they are also highly trained in the art of food and wine. If you’ve tried out some of these recipes (and the wine pairings too), let us know how you went in the comments!

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