If I’m stuck sitting next to someone at a dinner party and have used up all my chat, I always have great success with the line: “If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you eat for your last meal?”
Well, I’ve recently turned this question on myself; not because I’m dying but because I’m about to embark on UFIT’s 10 week nutritional programme, Salveo, which is all about eating ‘clean’ (on reflection perhaps it will kill me: no alcohol, no char kway teow, not even the whiff of a medium-rare cheese burger and definitely no pizza) for just over two months.
I don’t actually want to lose weight, I want to lose body fat and build some muscle mass. I was quite pleased with my 57kg weigh-in but any smugness soon vanished as Becky, UFIT’s lovely and very non-judgemental resident nutritionist, reached for the callipers. Can you pinch an inch? I certainly can; more than an inch and she measured it all and wrote it down. I now have something to work towards.
It got worse when she tried to find my bicep muscle hiding shyly somewhere in the region of my upper arm. I think it must have been pea sized as we were there a while. Total over all body fat: 25% (give or take); goal: 20%.
So – what three things did I eat before my new regime began, which started this Monday?
Top of the list was an Omakase Burger – don’t be put off by the name, which is confusingly Japanese for a burger joint. These guys make the best cheeseburgers in town. By a mile.
It’s very much inspired by Shake Shack in the US, the burger joint where beautiful people go to to actually eat burgers and cheesy fries (there was not a tracksuit-toting fatty in sight when I went to an outlet earlier on in the year when I was in New York. All I could see were Goyard bags on the crooks of arms, skinny jeans and heels).
Here’s a rather rushed pic of two nice looking gals chowing down something delicious in the Shake Shack on the Upper East Side. Witnessing pretty people eating fast food is almost like seeing a unicorn; very, very rare and not something you’d ever hope to catch even a glimpse of in England.
The guys at Omakase love Shake Shack and even tried, unsuccessfully, to buy the franchise. Come here for their interpretation, which comes pretty darn close. My standard order is an Omakase burger medium well (they serve it medium rare but it’s too bloody for me and very leaky) plus cheesy fries. Don’t knock ’em till you’ve tried ’em. They sound trashy and no good but that’s not how they taste.
Dinner that evening was a diavola pizza at Pietrasanta. Just right and topped with the perfect salami that’s neither too fatty, nor too thick. (Sadly I ate it too fast and forgot to take any pictures…just as it should be!)
And last but not least was…drum roll please…popiah. Homemade no less and at the home of my lovely friend the Bon Bon Girl. For those that don’t know, popiah filling takes TWO WHOE DAYS to prepare. It’s one of my most favourite local dishes and the homemade version knocks the socks off anything you can buy.
Here’s the wafer thin popiah skins – fortunes have been made by hawkers who’ve come up with the successful recipe for these – which you fill with a variety of beautifully differently tasting sauces:
…including hand-pounded garlic, fried garlic, home made chilli sauce and sweet sauce.
The others are toppings to be added later: crushed ikan bilis, coriander, pounded peanuts and crispy pork fat (actually this was my favourite addition, unbelievably tasty no matter how horrid it sounds; think of crispy fat trimmed off bacon which makes it sound better than what it is: cubed, cooked pork lard).
How to eat it? Strictly DIY; everyone’s got their own methods. Some people use an extra half skin to double line it, others don’t bother. It’s a science yet very personal all at the same time. I had to ask for a few pointers as I haven’t eaten this in yonks.
Here’s what I learnt:
Use a lettuce leaf like a boat to hold all the filling and sauces and stop it leaking through.
Add your base sauces first, pop in the filling (in picture 2) which is the thing that takes 2 days to make; it contains turnip and so much more besides, although I have in fact no real idea what (but absolutely no carrots, carrots in popiah make my mother in law get extremely upset, “it’s just wrong,” apparently). Deck with crab meat, prawns, cucumber, fresh bean sprouts, egg, chinese sausage – varies as per household but I would stick to this formula which tasted like heaven.
Then wrap and roll baby. You have to squish it a bit in the first roll to get it tight enough, then tuck the ends in and off you go.
My Salveo nutritional regime is courtesy of UFIT