Kway Chap. The two words that always remind me of my days in the operating theatre assisting in colorectal surgery. I have shared it before in a previous post, but it’s just something I have to share again for the benefit of our newer readers. Colorectal surgeons love Kway Chap! It’s the first thing they rush out to eat right after the operation! And you thought that Hannibal Lector is just a figment of someone’s imagination!
However, I am not a Colorectal surgeon, so it took me sometime to learn to appreciate pig’s innards. When I first started this food blog, I would never order any of the tubular structures at the Kway Chap stall. But that all changed as I slowly grew to appreciate the wonderful textures of pig intestines.
In an age of growing concerns about wastage and conservation, Kway Chap should surely deserve some sort of resurgence in popularity. It is, afterall, a dish that minimizes wastage as every part of the pig can be thrown into the cauldron of braising sauce. If you think about it carefully, there is no reason why we would prefer to eat pig muscle and not pig intestine or brain or snout or feet. They are all different parts of the pig, so why do we eat some parts and shun the others?
In fact, there is a renaissance of sorts in the west as people slowly begin to re-discover the hidden treasures in other parts of the animal apart from just the usual cuts of meat. Take cheeks for instance. It wasn’t that long ago that no one would even think about them. Suddenly someone started to do Beef Cheeks properly and now they are the rage. Great Chefs like Marco Pierre White are using pig trotters to give diners a run (pun intended) for their money and other Chefs like Fergus Henderson have restaurants that sell every part of the pig from the nose to the tail. His restaurant is widely regarded as the one that started the trend for brains, tongue and bone marrow. But hey, long before the British started to eat the offal, we in Singapore already love our Kway Chap, Pig’s Organ Soup and Soup Tulang!
So here we are at this particular coffeeshop in Pasir Panjang, waiting for our serving of chopped up pigs parts braised in a dark hearty braising sauce. This place is the current favourite amongst our kakis and there is one word which can summarize it all — OLD SCHOOL. Yes, if you like Kway Chap like how they used to do it, here it is. From the old coffeeshop, to the old flower designed dishes, to the hawker wearing 555 brand T shirts. It is time for this old boy to return to his alma mater.
Perhaps it was the rowdy, balmy ambience, or maybe it was the open drain next to the coffeeshop, or it could even be the way the braising sauce is carelessly splashed over the rim of the plate. When you pick up that thinly sliced ring of rectum and place it in your mouth, suddenly you are brought back to the 70’s and to a time when there were no multistorey carparks in HDB estates.
Don’t think for a moment that cooking Kway Chap is just boiling all the piggy parts together. The expert Kway Chap hawker knows the importance of timing. Different parts of the pig take different times to cook. I stood there observing his years of experience as he would turn to chop up some small intestine and then quickly turn over to the cauldron to fish out some fallopian tubes. It is all done by instinct and it is done perfectly.
If you haven’t learnt to eat offals yet, you should because one day you might be sitting in a posh restaurant enjoying pigs brain and wondering why in the world you didn’t start enjoying it earlier. It is only a matter of time before someone opens up on offal restaurant here to offer offaly good offals.
The Kway Chap here is excellent. The uncle takes a lot of pains to wash the intestines so you get no off putting flavour. The braising sauce is good and all the intestines have been braised till its absolutely velverty. 4.5/5. But the real killer for me was the Ter Kah (pig trotters). Unlike other hawkers, he chops up the trotters first before braising them in a special thick caramelly spiced gravy till the collagen is turned into that sticky slimy goodness that we all loved. Aiyoh, only one word can adequately describe it. SHIOK! 4.6/5
If you love Kway Chap, then this must be one of the places you have to put on your resume. If you haven’t learnt about the pleasures of peculiar pig parts, then here is where you can start.
Tong Lok Kway Chap