If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of the wet market.
While I do shop quite a bit at supermarkets, especially for fruit and vegetables because they don’t keep very well, I do almost all my meat, chicken and fish-buying at the wet market.
I have been frequenting the wet market at Block 216 Bedok North Street 1 for about 10 years. I love going to the market because of the variety of fresh produce available and also because of the relationships I have with the sellers. I think I know almost all the stall holders and they know me too. So marketing isn’t just about picking out food items – the stall holders would ask me about me and my family and give me invaluable tips on what’s good to buy as well as tips on cooking.
The first stall I’d zero in on at the market is the pork stall. I only buy pork from Andy and his brothers. Most times, I tell Andy what I want to cook and he will prepare the cuts of meat I need.
From my mom, I learnt how important it is to cultivate a good relationship with your butcher. Not only do they keep the best cuts for you, they also have all sorts of recipes to share.
Another stall that I always frequent is the dry goods stall.
In addition to the many varieties of dry goods, you can also buy preserved vegetables, salted fish, canned food, sauces, spices and other cooking essentials.
This stall is owned and managed by Ronny. Ronny is a great guy. He, too, has all sorts of tips about cooking and over the years I have learnt a ton from him. Some times I’d see something strange and he will tell me what the item is and how to cook it. This is one knowledgeable man!
I also like to buy garlic and ginger from this stall. The one cooking chore I detest is peeling and mincing garlic but unfortunately, garlic is something I use a lot of. I find that it is easier to peel the garlic from the wet market. I am not sure why that is but it is true!
This is my chicken Aunty. She is brilliant. I’d tell her what I was going to cook with the chicken (eg, Sesame Oil Chicken) and she’d cut them into the right size for me.
Then there are my fish guys.
Uncle Ang has been selling fish for more than 30 years. While he used to sell a lot more varieties of fish, he now sells mainly snapper, mackerel, and sting ray. That is perfect for me because I buy quite a bit of snapper and mackerel.
Then there are the other fishmongers that I go to for other varieties of fish and prawns.
This humorous Uncle always keeps smelt fish for me if he has any. I’d buy the whole lot. Simply chop off their heads, remove the guts then add salt (and turmeric if you like) and deep fry them. The fish gets so crispy and you can eat everything except for the bone in the middle. YUM!
Then there is the other Uncle from whom I’d buy prawns. I usually buy sea prawns and I like them quite big. Yes, I am a bit fussy when it comes to seafood.
There is also the all-important fishball (and anything related to fish paste) stall. The Uncle who owns the stall has been operating for years and has been featured many times in the newspapers.
He sells the most springy fishballs and home made ngor hiang in addition to Yong Tau Foo. Everything is freshly made – I had to fight quite a few aunties in order to take these photos so I managed only to take a few. The actually variety of items from this stall is impressive!
Then there is the roast pork and duck stall. All the items are made by Ah Girl and she has magic fingers. When I don’t have the time to make my own char siew or roast pork, I would buy them here. Apart from char siew, she also sells roast ducks, braised ducks and roast pork. The prices are very, very reasonable and everything is delicious!
When I feel like some quick and easy Teochew porridge, I will buy some cooked fish from this Uncle. All I need is to cook some porridge and I will eat this with some preserved cabbage and salty egg. This, to me, is convenience food!
I also frequent the stalls that sell ingredients for cooking Malay and Indian food. One of my favorites is this curry paste stall. The lady who operates the stall is like a mixologist. All you need to do is to tell her what curry you are cooking and the weight of your main ingredient, and she takes a bit of this and a bit of that and viola! you have a packet of curry paste that is ready to be used!
There is also the stall that has everything you’d possibly need to cook any Malay meal. You can find banana flowers, Torch Ginger Flower (Bunga Kantan), strange looking beans and other what-nots here too.
Next to this is the freshly ground coconut stall. When I was a kid, I would stand and watch the machine grind up coconuts. It used to fascinate me to no ends. I love freshly ground coconuts. And yes, the machine still fascinates me.
These are the stalls that I frequent at the wet market I shop at.
For me, it is not so much the food that attracts me – it is the atmosphere of the wet market, as well as the people who man the stalls that keep me coming back again and again.
I don’t ever want to be just another face at a supermarket. It’s nice to be able to buy food and have a little chit chat with the people who are selling me the food.
Food is about relationships – the cooking of it, the eating of it and definitely the buying of it too.
Address: Block 216 Bedok North Street 1
This post is part of the ‘To Market, To Market’ Blog Train hosted by Life’s Tiny Miracles. To read about other local markets in Singapore, please click on the icon below.
Next on the blog train is Jiahui, a working mother of 3. She found a wholesale Vegetable market in Toa Payoh and you can find out what’s sold there and how very cheap things are!
She blogs at Mum’s the Word, journaling her parenting experiences before she forgets them all!