Expectation: a cheery, glossy sunny-side-up, worthy of the ‘gram.
Reality: hardened volcanic goop, fit for Jurassic Park.
If you’ve made any attempt at cooking at all, you’ve likely messed up eggs before. Or maybe fried rice (Uncle Roger is disappointed). Or maybe even instant noodles.
From omurice to ondeh ondeh, Jia Ming has probably failed them all. And it’s this journey that makes this 88.3JIA radio DJ such a dexterous home cook today.
1. First off, we need your street cred. Rate your cooking on a scale of 1 to 10.
Jia Ming: It depends on what cuisine, hahaha! If we’re talking about Chinese and Japanese, I’d proudly give myself 8/10. But not Western food – I’m still learning!
2. Fair enough! Do others around you agree?
Jia Ming: My friends and family members often praise my cooking, but I get the most honest, brutal feedback from my mother-in-law! And that helps me improve.
3. Okay, be honest with us too. What is your biggest cooking fail?
Jia Ming: My mother once showed me a video of how to make traditional Chinese yam cake. And being overly confident, I said: “Ahh that’s very easy, I know how to do!”
When I tried to make it, gosh, it was disastrous!
I made it based on my own guess-timations and didn’t really follow any recipes. It turned out to be hard and rubbery. And there was no way any of us could eat it. In the end, I had to deep fry it and eat it like a yam biscuit, haha!
4. Share 3 golden rules in the kitchen every cook should know
Jia Ming: One, know where are all your tools, sauces and ingredients are located.
Two: The table top must ALWAYS be clean.
Number Three is important: Do not disturb the chef!
5. Who is your favourite celebrity chef, and what is one thing you learnt?
Jia Ming: I’ve been following a cooking show by a Hong Kong celebrity – Chef Nic by Nicholas Tse. Through him, I learnt that a chef must always be adventurous in trying all types of cuisines, knowing the tastes, the ingredients and even the cultural story behind the cuisines. It not only helps the cook to improve their skills, but also broadens their knowledge.
I’ve always loved the way Nic interacts with his guests on his show – he’s so friendly and genuine, and so knowledgeable. Sorry, fan boy moment, haha!
6. If you could, what would you cook for Nicholas Tse?
Jia Ming: I am Hakka, and lived with my grandparents who only speak Hakka, so I will definitely cook one of the Hakka’s signature dishes – yong tau foo (stuffed tofu). I learnt this this from my grandma, and she taught us how to choose the best ingredients and how to make everything from scratch!
7. What are 2 cooking equipment no one should do without?
Jia Ming: I have many tools in my kitchen drawers, but my top 2 favourites are my spatula and a pair of long chopsticks! With them, I can do almost everything!
8. Your favourite dish at a SAFRA clubhouse?
Jia Ming: I once tried Gin Khao Sino-Thai in SAFRA Tampines and I loved it! This is like the best of both worlds – I get to enjoy my favourite Chinese food in Thai style cooking.
Once of my favourite Thai dishes is pineapple fried rice. After trying it at Gin Khao, I wanted to try it on my own. It tasted alright, but definitely not as good! I’ve stopped trying – whenever I have cravings, I just go back to the restaurant again!
9. Why should someone try cooking their own dish?
Jia Ming: You can add any ingredients you like, and cater to your own taste buds. Moreover, when cooking for family, it creates bonds and precious moments, especially when they finish all the food. When you see the smiles on their faces, the satisfaction is indescribable.
10. Easiest dish for a beginner cook?
Jia Ming: I recently tried a ‘Rice cooker dish’, it’s pretty simple and satisfying! For the ingredients, put in some corn kernels, whole tomato, luncheon meat, 2 cups of rice, and replace the water with chicken stock.
Cook it in the rice cooker until it’s ready, and you will be blown away by the aroma. You won’t stop at one serving!
11. What should someone do when they mess up a dish?
Jia Ming: Don’t panic, get up again from where you failed. Don’t be afraid to try the same dish again. If it’s really bad and can’t be salvaged anymore, just eat out or buy some food back and try again next time!
I am planning to involve my kids in cooking when they go primary school next year. I want to teach them this important life skill, and impart this life lesson to them through cooking – that even if they fail, get discouraged or maybe even get burnt while cooking (under my supervision of course) – don’t be afraid to try it again and conquer it. We will always taste success in the end!
Kick off your day with positive vibes with Jia Ming on 88.3JIA, weekdays from 6am to 9am, on your morning drive along with his fellow DJs Ben and Shu Hui.