Fathers’ Day 2021: I Cooked with My Dad for the First Time in 23 Years

Fathers’ Day Recipes

Like many other 20-somethings, my cooking skills don’t go beyond the occasional aglio olio. My dad, on the other hand, is a bit of a foodie. As a freelance emcee, he’s hosted cooking shows and knows — within a second of you asking — where the best Laksa or Chicken Rice is in Singapore. 

 

That’s why this Fathers’ Day, instead of the usual pleasantries and restaurant meals, I decided to spend some time with him in the kitchen. And not just hunting for snacks together, but actually whipping up a dish, something we’ve never done together before. 

 

Oh, something else you should know about my dad is that he’s a K-drama guy. So when I asked him what he wanted to make, it didn’t take long for him to land on jajangmyeon, a noodle dish with a thick, Korean black bean paste sauce. (He says he was inspired by Wok of Love, a K-drama about a jajangmyeon cooking competition. Go figure.) 

Getting the ingredients was quite easy as we live rather close to a Korean Mart, which is where we got the noodles and black bean paste from. We weren’t sure if one packet of black bean sauce (250g) was enough, so we got two (Spoiler: one was more than enough). 

 

At the store, there was also the option to choose frozen or dry noodles. For this attempt, my dad chose frozen noodles. While it was frozen, it required no defrosting and retained a chewy and fresh texture. Thumbs up from us! 

Photo credit: Jacinth Chia 

 

As we got to chopping the vegetables into cubes, I was honestly quite ashamed at how my knife skills were so lacking compared to my dad’s. He even had to teach me how to dice the carrots, onions and zucchinis in a “faster way”, which I knew was dad-language for “you’re too slow”! Nevertheless, I appreciated his instruction, and now I can add carrot-chopper to my resume. 

 

My dad diced up the onions, cabbage and zucchinis pretty quickly, followed by the delicious pork belly that we bought from NTUC. The recipe only called for 600g, but hey, the beauty of cooking at home is that you can tailor recipes to your preferences. For us, that meant more pork belly. A lot more. 

 

After the preparation, we followed the rest of the recipe closely and managed to complete the dish! I must say, he did most of the work, from the cutting to the frying and even the plating.

Photo credit: Jacinth Chia 

 

But what surprised me was that even in such a short time spent together, I learnt a lot from him about cooking — things I would never have found on Google, such as:

  1. Blanching the pork belly in hot water before cutting will remove the blood and make it easier to cut
  2. After cutting the tail ends of the cucumber, you need to give it a quick rub to remove the bitterness
  3. Cornstarch always goes last! Once it’s in, you can’t change the flavour profile anymore.
  4. Adding mirin helps to make the sauce stickier. 
  5. If the dish is too salty, add sugar to balance it out. 

 

But what surprised me even more were the things I learnt about him, like how his favourite dish to cook is Hokkien Mee, how he has some really good knife skills, and how he is so patient and kind with his words, even to a daughter who can’t cook. 

 

This Fathers’ Day, I chose to spend some quality time with my dad in the kitchen, and we had a great meal and an even better bonding time. He picked the jajangmyeon recipe, which was pretty simple (and yummy!), but if your dad isn’t a K-drama fanatic like mine, here are 5 other recipes in this month’s specials

1. One Pot Beef Stew

This Chinese beef stew takes reference from Cantonese cooking and pairs vibrant flavours of daikon and carrots with rich earthy beefy goodness. And yes, it’s one pot only, so you won’t have to ask your mum or siblings for help to clean up. 

 

Recipe: https://themeatmen.sg/chinese-beef-stew

Skill Level: Easy 

 

2. Hamburg Steak

If western food is preferred, this air-fryer hamburg steak recipe will satisfy your dad’s cravings. As a bonus, it easily looks restaurant-quality too!

 

P.S. The instructions for a delicious Hamburg sauce is included in this recipe as well. 

 

Recipe: https://themeatmen.sg/hamburg-steak

Skill Level: Easy

 

3. Kari Kapitam

For a spicy kick this Fathers’ Day, this dish will not disappoint. This dry curry gravy brings about that delectable harmony of traditional Chinese and Malay flavours all into one hearty dish. Tip: if your dad’s watching his weight, swap out the cream for greek yoghurt. 

 

Recipe: https://themeatmen.sg/kari-kapitan/ 

Skill Level: Easy

 

4. Nyonya Chap Chye (Peranakan Mixed Vegetables)

This Nyonya Chap Chye (loosely translated: mixed vegetables) is a classic from the Peranakan cuisine. With fresh vegetables tossed, crispy beancurd strips and broth-soaked tang hoon (glass noodles), it is nothing short of a flavour explosion! 

 

Recipe: https://themeatmen.sg/nyonya-chap-chye/

Skill Level: Easy

 

5. Sio Bak

A guilty indulgence, this Sio Bak recipe is the ultimate bonding tool. The process is slightly tedious, taking over 2 hours to do, but that’s how you get really delicious Sio Bak to share. If you or your dad is feeling daunted, think thick chunks of delicious pork belly to savour on Fathers’ Day. There’s no better gift! 

 

Recipe: https://themeatmen.sg/frommetoyou-sio-bak/

Skill Level: Easy

Things to Do on Fathers’ Day

Needless to say, cooking is a great bonding activity. Whether it’s with your dad, mum, or any other loved one, there’s so much to learn, enjoy and celebrate just by spending some unhurried time together. For my dad and me, I can safely say this is one for the books. Indeed, it’s a jajangmyeon I’ll never forget. 

 

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Some other easy recipes you might like: 

 

P.S. We’ve got recipes for all your Singaporean and Asian favourites on our Youtube channel. Subscribe and share with your friends!

 

P.P.S. Can’t find a recipe you like? Drop us a comment or ping us on our socials.

 

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