2020 was a busy year for Ethel Neo and her husband Peter Lau. While caring for their two-year-old son, they launched a new business, Chu Collagen, introduced two products, chicken collagen and prawn mee soup, and have another little one on the way.
Yet they still managed to find the time to develop a new product — Premium Laksa Soup — that will be released on Jan 15. And it's partially because laksa is one of Lau's favourite dishes.
Well, that and the fact that you can't get laksa soup at the supermarket, only if you go to hawker stalls and the like. "There is laska paste, flavouring and powder sold in supermarkets, but not the actual soup," shares Lau. While the other forms will require you to add additional ingredients and slave over the stove, Chu Collagen's version, like their other products, can be consumed right out of the packet after defrosting and heating up.
After "many bowls of laksa and many kilograms of coconut milk", the final product contains "the silkiest coconut milk" and spices including galangal, lemongrass, turmeric and laksa leaf, says Lau.
The rainy weather we've been having in Singapore makes it the perfect time to enjoy a bowl of piping hot laksa, and do a trial run for all the upcoming steamboat sessions that are coming up since Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
The preparation is really simple, at least in terms of the soup. I took it out of the freezer and placed it on the kitchen table for a few hours. All that was needed after that was to heat it up and add in our ingredients of choice.
You know how sometimes after a few spoons of laksa soup, it gets too jelak? Well, not with this laksa soup. It went smoothly down the throat and I downed the entire bowl of soup easily, though I have to qualify that I am partial to heavy flavours.
And this wasn't because the broth was watered down. There was a certain heft to the broth and it was lemak enough that laksa purists won't be disappointed.
I also tried the Premium Prawn Mee Soup that I had been hearing good reviews from friends about, and it did not disappoint.
The recipe is the fruit of Neo's years of labour — she started making it from scratch as a student in Melbourne since she missed it so much while abroad. And it's a labour-intensive process, we're told. Even with her years of practice, it requires collecting prawn heads for a couple of weeks and many hours of boiling.
Hence, it was very impressive that the unami flavour is captured in a packet, without any of the hassle that prawn mee soup is typically associated with. However, this would be better suited as a noodle soup base as opposed to a hotpot base in our opinion, just so that you can better savour the soup's flavour.
There were shell-like pieces when we first defrosted the Prawn Mee soup. However, they dissolved into the soup when I brought it to a boil, so don't throw out anything that you find in the package as it's all part of the soup.
All in all, we would recommend stocking up on Chu Collagen's offerings, whether it's for a hearty, flavourful bowl of soup with the ongoing rainy weather, or for your festive steamboat gatherings.
You might find yourself hooked onto their soups like a colleague who has to date bought 10 packets of their Premium Chicken Collagen soup since trying it in November last year.
The Premium Laksa Soup is priced from $22 for a set of two 500ml packs at chucollagen.com and will be available from Jan 15 online. Single 500ml pack will retail for $11 at FairPrice Finest outlets from end-January.