Italian omelette, Singapore style

PHOTO: The New Paper

This spinach frittata adds more than a splash of sunshine to the table.

Tell your friends you made this Italian-style omelette with locally farmed produce, and that is bound to get the conversation going.

Read also: A step-by-step guide to making the perfect Eggs Benedict

I used carrot eggs - which is bolstered with lutein (a carotenoid that protects eyes), vitamin A and vitamin E - from Seng Choon Farm and two types of local spinach from Kok Fah for this frittata.

It makes perfect sense to shop for locally farmed produce.

For a start, the shorter time it takes to get from farm to shelf makes local produce fresher.

I also like knowing the food source.

All three local poultry farms - Seng Choon Farm, Chew's Agriculture and N&N Agriculture - are registered under the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) Singapore Quality Egg Scheme (SQES).

Look for the SQES logo on egg cartons as this is a mark of quality and freshness.

How to tell if your egg has gone bad

  • Place your egg in a basin of water and if it floats, it is not fresh and should be binned.
  • If the egg lies on its side at the bottom, it is very fresh.
  • If it stays upright on the bottom, it is still fine to eat, but should be eaten very soon, or hard-boiled.
  • If it is fresh, it will not make a sound. Older eggs will make a slight rattle.
  • First, the yolk of a fresh egg should be bright yellow and nicely rounded.
  • Second, as the egg ages, the white becomes runny and the yolk becomes flatter and slightly pale.
  • If you find it difficult to peel a hard-boiled egg, do not complain. It just means that it is fresh; fresher eggs are harder to peel.
  • You should keep them refrigerated. Those kept at room temperature will go bad faster than refrigerated ones.
  • And you should store them in their carton in the main compartment and not in the fridge door, which is not cold enough. Use the eggs within three weeks.
  • Open the egg carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • You should cook an egg until the yolk and the white are firm.
  • Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
  • Eat half-boiled eggs at your own risk.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked - such as Caesar salad dressing and ice cream - use pasteurised egg products, sometimes found in supermarkets.
  • By the way, you can freeze eggs to extend their shelf life, up to a year. To freeze whole eggs, beat the yolks and the whites together. Egg whites can be frozen by themselves. (Freezing eggs in their shells does not work.)

Besides eggs, you can find a variety of local leafy vegetables and fish at major supermarkets.

You can also get ready-packed Veggie Life mixed salads produced by Panasonic - the first indoor farm licensed by the AVA.

To identify local produce, look out for the country of origin on the packaging or the Love Homegrown Produce label.

Don't underestimate the impact of your choice of groceries when you go shopping.

A guide to choosing the best fruits and vegetables at the supermarket

  • They should be firm, shiny, and brightly coloured.
  • If you plan to eat them straight away, choose those that are bright yellow, with little bruises. If you're buying a few days ahead, pick those that are mainly green with a tinge of yellow.
  • They should be glossy and full. Pick those with the stems attached, as they'll keep for longer than without. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Pick bunches that look quite plump, and most of the grapes should still be attached to the stem. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • They should feel heavy in the hand, and firm, just slightly yielding. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Choose heavy fruits that have a nice shine. The skin should be fairly smooth without too many pockmarks, and dents are a definite no-no. They should feel firm to touch, but not rock-hard. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Avoid the ones that are beginning to feel a bit mushy. For kiwis, you want them firm, and just a little yielding. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • The surface should be smooth and even. You want the melons to be heavy, as that's indication of juiciness. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • The leaves should look fresh, instead of dry and brown. Pick up the fruit and give it a whiff - it should be aromatic, and it should feel heavy too.
  • The strawberries should be uniformly red without patches of yellow. Fragrant strawberries are usually sweeter. Inspect the punnet from all sides to watch out for crushed or mushy strawberries, or signs of mould. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • The stalks should be smooth, straight, and be of a deep green hue. Tips should be closed.
  • The stalks should be firm and smooth, and the florets should be tight and dark green. The leaves should also be dark green. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Opt for bright orange carrots over paler ones. The skin should be smooth, and the carrots should definitely feel firm.
  • Choose the bundles that are light to medium green, preferably with fresh-looking leaves at the top. Skip those with bruises on the stalks. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Pick the ones that are heavy for their size, with tight florets, and free of spots and blemishes. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • When it comes to corn, look out for green husks instead of yellowing or brown husks. The kernels below should look plump and meaty. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • If buying garlic cloves by the bundle, skip the ones with shruken skin or those that have gone soft. For garlic bulbs, choose those that are firm, with the papery skin still intact.
  • If possible, check that the gills on the underside are tight, and the caps are closed, or just slightly open, around the stems. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • They should be firm and heavy, with dry, paper skins. Softness or moisture is not a good sign, and you should also avoid onions that are beginning to sprout. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Look for tomatoes that are bright red with smooth, wrinkle-free skin. It should feel plump but not rock-hard. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • You want bundles with dark-green leaves. If they look limp or wilted, skip. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Buying local produce keeps our farms in business, which in turn contributes to the economy and builds better food supply resilience.

Watch this space next week for a luscious pie recipe featuring more local produce.

HOW FRESH ARE LOCAL EGGS?

Photo: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore

Based on lab tests conducted by AVA, eggs produced by local poultry farms are Grade AA - the best grade for freshness.

The Haugh unit (HU) measures egg protein and is used to evaluate freshness.

A guide to the different types of eggs

  • These vary in size from 40g to 70g weighed in shell. Yolk colour relates to chicken feed make-up and has nopredictable bearing on flavour, neither does shell colour. Jumbo eggs often have relatively larger yolks, and sometimes double yolks, which occur randomly, often in younger hens. First-born eggs come from first-time layers, but are not nutritionally distinct from other eggs. Both yolks and whites thin out as eggs age.

  • Battery eggs, the most common kind, are from hens confined to indoor battery cages. Cage-free or barn eggs come from hens allowed some measure of freedom to roam in enclosed indoor barn spaces. Free-range eggs from hens allowed some outdoor exposure are not produced in Singapore.
  • Some producers raise hens on feed formulated to give their eggs particular nutritional profiles. According to Seng Choon Farm, natural and nutrient-rich feed ingredients are used to produce their speciality lines, such as Carrot Eggs. Nutrition aside, flavour differences among all kinds of regular or speciality chicken eggs are often only very subtle.
  • These small eggs, around 30g each, are from kampung hens, a different breed from regular layers.

  • Laid by white-feathered, black-fleshed silkie hens, also known as black chickens. Around 30g each, the eggs are mild-tasting, with smooth, rich yolks.

  • Most commonly sold are quail eggs, about 10g each, with pale but proportionately large and richyolks. Local farm stores, such as www.unclewilliam.biz, may stock very limited supplies of eggs from other birds, such as pigeon or guinea fowl. Fresh duck eggs are not sold in Singapore, due to avian flu concerns.

  • Some supermarkets sell chilled eggs to cater to Japanese or other diners who favour raw or partly cooked eggs, and hence prize extreme freshness. For example, Seng Choon Farm packs chilled eggs for Meidi-Ya. Some gourmet supermarkets store all eggs in chillers. At home, store egg cartons on a fridge shelf. Temperatures in frequently opened fridge doors are less stable, and fluctuations may cause condensation on egg shells, which can promote bacterial or mould growth. Always observe use-by dates.
  • Producers may sanitise egg exteriors with ultraviolet light exposure before packing. Some use hot water baths to pasteurise whole in-shell eggs. Look for these in supermarket chillers. Gourmet or health food stores sometimes stock cartons of pasteurised liquid eggs or egg whites, products more often used by the food service industry than home consumers.

  • Traditionally made by curing duck eggs for a few months in an alkaline mixture of calcium oxide, tea, ash, clay, salt and rice chaff. Modern cures are often modified for faster results though the eggs are still typically sold crusted in rice chaff. Their green-grey yolks and cola-hued, firmly jellied whites have a sulphurous, even cheesey aroma and flavour. The most prized ones have branching crystalline patterns on their surface and creamy-centred yolks.

  • Immersing fresh duck eggs for several weeks in brine, sometimes spiked with spices or rice wine, turns their yolks firm and deep orange, their whites viscous and both very salty. The finished, drained eggs are smeared with ash paste for shelf storage and always cooked before consumption. Chicken eggs and quail eggs can also be salt-cured though they are less flavourful.
  • An increasingly rare sight at wet markets, these are half-formed eggs found inside the bodies of hens slaughtered for meat. Mostly yolk inside a thin membrane, ranging from pea-size to about 2cm in diameter, they taste less rich than regular eggs. Traditionally cooked in soups, curries, stews or congees by many cultures.
  • Chiefly used by the food service industry. Baking supply shops may stock powdered dried egg whites, or meringue powder, a mixture of dried egg whites, sugar and stabilisers. Both products have specific confectionery and patisserie applications.

The higher the number, the better the quality of the egg.

Eggs are classified as AA (72 and above HU), A (71 to 60 HU) and B (59 or below HU).

Source: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g locally farmed red spinach leaves
  • 100g locally farmed baby spinach leaves
  • 6 locally produced eggs
  • 3 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red finger chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 150g gruyere cheese, grated
  • Dash of black pepper, pinch of salt
  • 1 flat tsp salt (for whisked eggs)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

RECOMMENDED WITH: Locally produced mixed salad

EQUIPMENT: Oven-safe skillet, preferably cast iron

METHOD

1. Preheat oven grill on medium heat for 10 minutes.

2. Crack eggs into mixing bowl. Whisk.

Photo: The New Paper

3. Add 120g of gruyere cheese and 150ml whipping cream. Whisk well.

4. Add black pepper and 1 tsp of salt. Whisk and set aside.

5. Heat olive oil. Fry sliced mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Add minced garlic.

6. Fry on medium heat and cook until liquid from tomatoes and mushrooms is reduced.

7. Add baby spinach, fry until wilted.

Photo: The New Paper

8. Add red spinach leaves and continue to fry to reduce the moisture.

Photo: The New Paper

9. Add a pinch of salt.

10. Distribute spinach mixture with your spatula to cover bottom of the skillet.

11. Add egg mixture. Reduce heat and cook egg mixture until sides are set.

12. Turn off heat. Sprinkle remaining cheese and arrange sliced chilli on top of the frittata. Transfer skillet into oven.

13. Grill on medium heat until the top is cooked and golden.

14. Serve with mixed salad on the side.

hedykhoo@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 15, 2016.
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Burpple's guide to top 12 spots for egg-licious eats

  • For messy but delicious spiced eggs

    A long time favourite on Artichoke's weekend brunch menu, the Lamb Shakshouka ($26) is the perfect union of tender lamb shoulder and spot-on runny eggs. Served in a skillet, this Middle Eastern inspired dish is enlivened by a well-balanced spiced tomato sauce and a stunning green chilli harissa. Tear off pieces of the accompanying pita bread and use that to mop up that delicious mess. Don't worry - the guys at Artichoke are too laidback to judge. Pro tip: The dish is super filling, so you might also want to order a lighter main (try the Haloumi & Mushrooms, $22) and share both with a friend. (Photo: Nobelle Liew)

  • For winning eggs in a seafood restaurant

    This Bukit Pasoh restaurant may specialise in seafood and cocktails but boy do they know their way around eggs too! The Fried Egg (from $14), served with octopus, orzo and tete de moine (a type of Swiss cheese), is a stunner on their Sunday brunch menu. Crusted and golden outside, while remaining perfectly soft boiled and runny within, the egg adds great texture to the creamy pasta base. (Photo: Ian Low)

  • For silky smooth scrambled eggs

    By the folks behind The Plain and PUNCH, this bustling, dimly-lit cafe is THE place to go for Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($9). Thoughtfully served with two different types of toast and perfectly executed every single time, the scrambled eggs are luscious, creamy and velvety, and sprinkled with just the right amount of sea salt flakes. Choose to add the avocado, bacon, or portobello mushroom should you need a big breakfast! Finish with the Iced Wicked Mocha ($7.50) - pure chocolatey goodness with a minty finish. (Photo: Veronica Phua)

  • For orh luak cravings

    When the orh luak craving hits, head straight to Lim's Fried Oyster in Jalan Berseh Food Centre. The eggy Fried Oyster Omelette ($5) hits the spot, every single time! The orh luak is cooked perfectly - crisp around the edges and moist in the centre, so it gives just the right amount of crispy and gooey in every mouthful. Don't forget to dip the plump oysters (they're imported from Korea) into Lim's fiery chilli sauce! (Photo: Zhihui Lim)

  • For greasy fries and a perfectly fried egg

    Topped with oodles of fried dried shrimp, crispy onions and laced in housemade sambal, the Sambal Fries ($12) at this burger joint are greasy, spicy, super tasty and just the thing to soak up the beer (from $14) you're probably having with it. It is the simple fried egg that elevates this bar snack from good to amazing. Break up the runny yolk, stir it through the fries and there - you're in heaven. (Photo: Mandy Lynn)

  • For molten eggs you cannot resist

    Your experience at this light-filled, friendly spot is made even more egg-cellent with their Oven Baked Molten Eggs on Tortilla and Melted Cheese ($12.90). Cheese is melted atop two ready-to-burst slow cooked eggs promising a river of liquid gold. Beautifully sliced avocados, bright spinach, cherry tomatoes and a tortilla make wonderful accompaniments. If you need more, add Smoked Salmon ($3) or Bacon ($3, only available on weekends), and finish off with a lovely coffee. (Photo: Jamie Kee)

  • For exquisite smoked quail eggs

    This smart grill house in the Keong Siak enclave is the place to go for all things smoked. We are putting our money on the egg-cellent appetiser, Smoked Quail Egg and Caviar ($15). Although pricey, the dish is worth every cent. Expect a perfectly smoked, chilled quail egg, with a molten liquid centre, and topped with a dollop of caviar. It's the perfect mix of savoury and sweet, and just the thing to get the party started. (Photo: Veronica Phua)

  • For consistently good Eggs Benedict

    Come early in the day to snag a seat at this award-winning coffee house before digging into the crowd favourite Organic Eggs Benedict ($24). Sink your teeth into tender braised ox cheeks set on artisanal sourdough toast with two perfectly poached eggs. The organic eggs produce super orangey yolks - quite a stunning sight! Instead of the acidic house blend, have the baristas recommend what other coffee beans are available for your caffeine boost. (Photo: Cel Heng)

  • For impressive sous vide egg confit

    If wobbly eggs make you weak at the knees, visit Saveur Art for their decadent Egg Confit ($10), a 63 degree sous vide egg resting on a bed of truffled potato mousseline, drizzled with warm brown butter sauce. Every spoonful brings you luxuriously creamy potato coated in ribbons of truffle-infused egg. The crunch of roasted macadamia nuts brings this dish to textural perfection, leaving you on a high. Pro tip: Opt for this as an appetiser in the Lunch Set ($39) instead of ordering it a la carte. (Photo: Xing Wei Chua)

  • For tasty huevos rancheros

    Grab your friends for a hearty American breakfast at this NYC-born restaurant. The Huevos Rancheros ($20) is a true flavour bomb, where cheery sunny side-ups smother a tortilla loaded with generous scoops of sour cream, tangy salsa, and creamy guacamole. Tip this over the edge with the addition of savoury Chorizo ($4)! A meal here demands that you order the unbelievably fluffy Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter ($18), with Wild Blueberries as your choice of topping. These big portions scream to be shared, so order two dishes to share between three! (Photo: Muriel A)

  • For comforting Chinese tea leaf eggs

    Who knew Eu Yang Sang, better known for its traditional Chinese medicine concoctions, would produce such a nostalgic treat? You'll know you're near the humble Chinese Tea Leaf Egg ($1) - a childhood pasar malam favourite! - when you're drawn in by the herbal aroma. Most Eu Yang Sang outlets sell this, but we much prefer how the Ang Mo Kio outlet cracks the egg shell during preparation, allowing more marinade to seep in. Left to brew in a pool of simmering soy-braised broth all day, it's the most flavourful and comforting snack to have on the go! (Photo: Raine Liu)

  • For a fluffy egg souffle

    The stunning Fuwa Fuwa Hoshino Souffle with Porcino Risotto ($16.80) features a fluffy egg souffle dome, cleverly prepared so it is golden on the outside and wobbly inside. Dig through the eggs to find a bed of mushroom risotto, creamy with cheese and peppered with savoury pieces of bacon. It is as comforting as it is pretty, but as it tends to get a bit rich, you might want to share this with a friend. Pro tip: The souffle goes from risen to deflated in a matter of minutes, so snap pictures quickly! (Photo: Sheryl Lyx)

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