With the effect of the COVID 19 virus pandemic worldwide, many people are staying at home to flatten the curve so I am bringing back my cooking series since travelling and eating out can only be done when the pandemic is over. Coincidently, my mum has a bad spine during this same period so I have taken over the reins of the kitchen and during this period, it was quite challenging to feed a family of 4 with different dishes daily and keeping to the budget so I was inspired to try preparing meals below $10 series. The cost tabulated will include the fresh ingredients and not the condiments. Note that most of these are really simple home-cooked meals and I did not really plate or decorate them as it is how we are eating it in real life.
So first up, I tried this challenge with 2 dishes for lunch.
The first dish is traditional Chinese steamed minced pork.
200 grams of minced pork at SGD 2.70
Seasoning needed: ( ignore the eggplant)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Pepper for taste
1 tablespoon of cornflour
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
2 teaspoon of light soy sauce
1 teaspoon of oyster sauce
1 egg at $0.40
The total cost of the dish – $ 4.10 ( Adding $1 for all the sauces)
Put in all the seasoning and the egg and mix the minced meat thoroughly. The cornflour will make the meat more tender and also the wine is to reduce any meaty smell.
The well-mixed meat should look like this. Next, we will leave it in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour.
Just before cooking, you can place the meat on a plate and flatten them like a big piece of meat pancake. Make sure the meat is flattened evenly so that it cooks throughout evenly. Steam the meat pancake for about 10 mins and it is ready to eat.
This is how the cooked dish looks like where there is some shrinkage after steaming. Not so pretty but this is dish complements plain white rice very well as you can taste the natural juices of the meat with the condiments adding some flavours.
The next dish is stir-fried eggplants with chilli shrimp sauce
2 bags of eggplant ( about 4 mid-size eggplants) – SGD 3.40
Ready-made shrimp chilli – I’m using the ready in a jar from Ah Siong brand which is basically dried shrimp fried with chilli, oil, garlic, soy sauce and other flavourings. The bottle cost SGD 6 but as I used only 1 third of it, I will tabulate at SGD 2. You can easier find this at supermarkets
The total cost of this dish is at SGD 5.40
Cut the eggplant into long strips like this so that the bigger surface will adsorb the sauces much better and also not turn the eggplant overly mushy.
Lightly stir fry the eggplant in oil so that the skin will not break away and turn mushy too early.
Put in 3 tablespoons of the chilli shrimp sauce and stir fry till all the eggplant is coated with the sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce for colour and taste.
Serve when the eggplant is soft but not overly mushy.
Both dishes complements rice extremely well and the cost is only at SGD 9.50 for both dishes and rice cooked at home probably adds another 50cents to make SGD10.