Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Singapore's First Lechon Buwaya BBQ Crocodile at SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure

Chef Tony Tee, aka SgKingCroc is the founder of SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure. Every month, Tony organises a food adventure dinner gathering in a Singapore restaurant. At every gathering, Tony collaborates with a different restaurant to present creative dishes based on crocodile meat and also the hosting restaurant's own signature dishes.

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The monthly foodie gathering is truly an adventure as we never know what magical dishes Tony is going to come up with.

(Chef Tony ran the SgKingCroc stall at Old Airport Road hawker centre for 9 years before he had to close it due to rental issues.)

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At the Mar 2015 SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure, we had Lechon Buwaya or Philippines style BBQ crocodile. This is a first in Singapore's culinary history!

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This historic edition of SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure was co-hosted by Chris, owner of Iskina Cebu. Chris himself made history by setting up Singapore's first authentic Lechon stall at Iskina Cebu.

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SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure gatherings are simple affairs, with emphasis on enjoying good food and the company of fellow foodies.

"Friendship through Food" is Tony Tee's philosophy.

The locale is always "as is, where is". Today's "banquet hall" was an ordinary Singapore coffee shop just beside Paya Lebar MRT station.

Behind every successful SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure gathering, there were a lot of behind-the-scene work which began at least a couple of months before.

For the Lechon Buwaya event, I managed to catch a glimpse of the hard work that went on hours before the guests arrive.

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The 30+ kg saltwater crocodile was marinated with salt, pepper and other condiments overnight.

The next day, it was ready for stuffing. The fresh crocodile was from Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm in Kranji, Singapore. (The crocodile head and tail were removed, so this was just the torso.)

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Chris stuffing herbs and spices into the hollowed gut of the crocodile.

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The stuffing consisted mainly of kilos of fragrant fresh lemon grass, crushed ginger, garlic, spring onions and herbs.

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The crocodile neatly sewn up with strong string by Chris, ready for the next stage of preparation.

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Chris rubbing a thick syrupy layer of specially blended marination on the crocodile's outside.

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Chris laying the stuffed and marinated crocodile onto the charcoal pit. Chris is really a strong guy; that croc was over 30 kg heavy!

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Roasting Lechon takes about 5 hours. Throughout the process, Chris constantly checks on the Lechon with the most sensitive measuring instrument known to mankind - the human forefinger.

This is really hard work as Chris and his staff had to regularly stretch out over the red hot burning charcoal to check on the Lechon. (That was why Chris was grimacing ;-p )

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Roasting Lechon Manok or Philippines style roast chicken over red hot charcoal.

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Other interesting, appetising dishes were also in the works ;-D

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The Lechon and Lechon Buwaya almost ready ;-D

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The much anticipated Lechon Buwaya is finally ready!!

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Chris and Tony, Philippines - Singapore food diplomacy in action. Proof of the power of food to bond peoples and nations.

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Not surprisingly, no event celebrating The Philippines' revered national dish will go unnoticed by the Embassy of The Philippines in Singapore. Members of the Philippines Embassy led by Mr Glenn G. Penaranda, Commercial Counsellor (on Tony Tee's right) joined in the gathering of foodies.

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Chris cutting up the Lechon Buwaya.

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Don't play play, the gathering's even got it's own unofficial media.

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After months of planning and preparations, let the party begin!!

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We started off with Cebuano Bulalao Pochero. 

This is a well loved pork broth made by slow boiling pork shanks for hours till the tendons and meat barely cling to the bones. Bamboo shoots, leafy greens, cabbage and sweet corn added fresh tasting sweetness to the broth. The savoury sweet pork broth was rich with flavour without resorting to synthetic taste enhancers. 

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Everything was on friendly self help basis, which helped keep costs friendly for everyone. (Tonight's gathering costed SGD35 per person.)

Makan buddy Jimmy Cheang serving the delicious soup in plastic containers which tasted as good as when it is served in fancy bowls.

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Sizzling Bulalo (Pork Shanks with Buttered Cream of Mushroom Gravy)

This young, recently created dish has become very popular in the Philippines during the past 2 years. Soft tender meat, fat and skin in a savoury sweet, creamy gravy. I love it and will order this, if I have the chance to visit The Philippines again. Just watch out for tiny bits of bone. 

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Next up was Iskina Cebu's signature Lechon.

There are many regional variations of Lechon which is The Philippines' national dish. Lechon from Cebu known as Lechon Baboy is generally accepted as the country's best.

Chris the owner of Iskina Cebu serves Lechon Baboy using marination and techniques from his hometown in Cebu.

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Look what goodie Derrick of SG Food on Foot blog was bringing for us?

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Succulent Lechon Manok or Philippines style BBQ chicken.

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More rice anyone? We had lots of Sinangag (Philippines style aromatic garlic rice).

Tony's lovely wife LeeAnne is the tireless administrator of SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure, and the always gracious and cheerful hostess.

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And now, the special appearance by Lechon Buwaya at SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure.

The crocodile was marinated with the same ingredients as Lechon Baboy and roasted over charcoal for 5 hours.

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The white crocodile meat had a texture between fish and lean pork. It was tender like large steamed fish and retained slight natural moistness. As this was a seawater crocodile, the white flesh inside had a natural saltiness and tasted like big marine fishes. The marination on the surface gave the crocodile meat a hint of savoury spice flavour.

The Lechon Buwaya has an interesting, unique crocodile flavour. The special flavour was gently present and not assertive.

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We ended the evening on a sweet note with The Philippines' signature sweet iced dessert, Halo Halo.

Halo Halo resembles ice kachang served in a bowl with jelly, sweet corn, boiled red beans, ice cream, crunchy corn cereal, crushed ice and lots more.

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Uncle Martin bringing us Halo Halo.

SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure gatherings are kept at a comfortable cost level for all because everything was self help by happy and willing volunteers ;-D It is also not for profit. As the SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure grows from strength to strength, more volunteers are welcome to keep the fun going at a healthy pace.

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Tony and LeAnne celebrating another great food adventure gathering with sweet Halo Halo.

SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure is held every month at different locations and with different themes.

The March 2015 gathering was hosted by Iskina Cebu, the first Lechon stall in Singapore.

For more information on the monthly SgKingCroc 鳄鱼大王 Food Adventure, Like this Facebook Page.

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Restaurant name: Iskina Cebu

Address:  Blk 1016, Geylang East Ave 3, Singapore (Opposite Paya Lebar MRT station) 
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/6YH9T 
GPS: 1.318444,103.891581 
Hours: 12:00 noon to 9:00pm (Closed on Monday)

Non Halal


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I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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