INTERVIEW: Handpicked Debuts Artisanal Noodles, Made in Singapore


Local noodles now feature a beautifully artisanal touch, thanks to new online retailer Handpicked. Preserving Singapore’s culinary heritage is a philosophy founder Karen Nah holds close to her heart, as with home-cooking – two years ago Nah was awarded an SG50 grant, where she launched the website My Singapore Food to document 50 traditional recipes by home cooks, in line with Singapore’s 50th anniversary. Nah tells us more about her new online venture:

Why have you decided to go into online retail rather than have a brick-and-mortar business?

Handpicked is an extension of My Singapore Food, where I offer consumers a digital pantry of Asian kitchen basics, carefully cherry-picked for their quality. For a home cook, nothing beats the feeling of being able to serve up a delicious, healthy meal prepared with good quality ingredients. Cooking is love made visible.

These two platforms allow me to create an online community; a continuous lifecycle which starts of by getting you interested in wanting to cook a certain dish, next we teach you to cook that dish, then we provide you with the choice ingredients better improve that dish, and because you enjoyed it so much you will want to learn yet another dish. And soon, you will be advocating home-cooking to you friends and loved ones.

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What are the artisanal qualities we can expect in Handpicked’s products?

At Handpicked, we are able to choose ingredients for their artisanal quality; selections which are not easily available in supermarkets. We are also able to work with different culinary experts and chefs to create special products to be made available. For example, sauces and spice blends. These items might be suited to be produced in small batches due to their complexities or simply the costs of producing them.

What are some of the local-made produce you use in your noodles?

We work very closely with a local flour merchant who provides us with special concocted flour blends which we use in the manufacturing of our noodles. Through them, we are able to control the texture, colour shade, gluten level etc. of our flour. We also use pasteurised whole eggs from a local farmer.

How are the noodles packaged and delivered?

The noodles are sealed with food safe packaging before being delivered. Most of the noodles can be kept in room temperature for at least 24 hours. We also provide recommended cooking times and methods on our packaging labels, and storage instructions.

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Do you have any significant memories tied to a home-cooked noodle dish you can share with our readers?

In my family, a much-loved noodle dish we grew up with is wanton noodles. My mother would roast the char siew in the pressure cooker and she would make the wantons too (using our wanton wrappers, of course!). The key to this dish is the method of cooking the perfect noodles.

How is Handpicked tied to your quest to preserve family heirloom recipes?

I believe dishes leave a strong food memory in each of us. Other than preserving the recipe, we are also preserving our food memories. In My Singapore Food, we record down the story behind each dish. Likewise, for the ingredients in Handpicked, I want to document the story of the ingredients. Take our family noodles for example, very few Singaporeans would know that we have a local noodle manufacturer with such a long heritage.

Can share more about the line of sauces and fragrance oils you have lined up?

Most of the ingredients are skewed towards local and Asian food pantry. In the pipeline are spice blends (such as five spiced powder) that will be created using fresh spices and a recipe that has been with the contributing family for decades. Also, spice seeds that have been specially brought in for their high quality.

Story originally appeared on The Peak.

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