KF Seetoh Breaks Down A Typical Hawker’s Work & Calls For Greater Appreciation

Our Makansutra founder is back to teach us the true value of every hawker meal.

KF Seetoh broke down the steps to make a typical bowl of mee pok – aka fishball noodles – in an attempt to educate Singaporeans on the effort that goes behind the hawker craft.

Here’s his viral post on Sunday (14 Apr) in full.

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200 bowls daily

Homecooks will know that pre-made sauces & packet stock just taste different from mixing or brewing your own.

KF Seetoh shared a picture of a humble bowl of fishball noodles with added liao like blanched shelled prawns and pork slices.

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He claims he made the entire dish from scratch and although it wasn’t “rocket science”, he thinks hawkers who make “at least 200 bowls…daily” would need rocket fuel to sustain their staminas.

The tricky part about perfecting this recipe according to him is that the seasoning has to be precisely balanced — not something you can just “shake out of a bottle”.

As for the condiments like sambal, he shares that it’s “so easy to get it wrong”. The mee pok noodles can be overcooked or undercooked very easily as well.

Brewing stock takes a while

For components like soup stock, though it tastes and looks deceptively simple, Mr Seetoh shares that the difficulty lies in brewing a large batch and keeping it “fresh all day”.

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He hasn’t cracked the secret of creating perfectly minced pork yet, but he gave a shout-out to the best kinds — those with a soft and smooth texture that’s hard to emulate at home.

Lard croutons & cheap chow

Love them or hate them, lard cubes make or break a decent bowl of mee pok.

Mr Seetoh hilariously shares his version quickly became chow ta as he had “so many things to jaga while cooking”.

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In other words, hawkers have to multi-task and monitor multiple stoves at once to ensure every ingredient is perfectly cooked.

Finally, for each bowl to be priced at $3 or $4 despite the effort that goes behind it, is still a tough bet on ensuring the survival of hawkers.

In his words,

To sell these things at $3 or $4, is frankly a Guinness Book of Records entry for jokes, (we have) the cheapest chow in a developed nation.

Appreciate your hawkers

KF Seetoh has made some fair points about Singaporeans appreciating our hawker culture a little more.

Our hawkers don’t actually owe us “great and cheap chow”, and their numbers are fast dwindling as it’s hard to turn a profit while making meals affordable for Singaporeans.

The next time a hawker auntie or uncle forgets to add chilli to your mee pok like you asked, choose to add it yourself while they get busy with the next order.

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We can all do our part to preserve the hawker craft in little ways, everyday.

Featured image from @makoeats on Instagram and Alex Haeusler on Flickr.