My first time with Singapore Chicken Rice

Yes, more food-borne analogies to ruin your day, dear reader. Hey, it’s Sunday.

My first 24 hrs in Asia in 1994 changed my life. I knew instantly I was hooked on Asia’s dynamism, the very excitement of just walking down the street in a part of the world so obviously on its way up, but it was the food that sealed it. Prawn Mee Soup with fish balls was the first meal I had on that summer night 15 years ago, and I still eat my homemade version at least twice a week.

But the signature dish of Singapore is “Singapore Chicken Rice”, more properly Hainan Chicken Rice, hǎi nán jī fàn, 海南鸡饭, from the Chinese province where the dish originated. And while I have it regularly whenever I am in Asia, I had never braved it on my own until a couple weeks ago. Now I must admit I cheated and used a box mix given to me over a year ago by my friend, a professor in Singapore. Despite under-cooking it the first go round and having to re-poach it (which made a colossal mess), despite using the wrong kind of rice, it was… not terrible. In fact, it was pretty darned edible!

So emboldened by my partial success, I pulled out the cookbooks with the dauntingly complex recipes. What had before seemed impossible now made sense. I tried it from scratch this past Sunday, no spice mixes or packaged sauces and everyone loved the results! I’ll keep trying different types of rice and with each attempt refine ‘my’ recipe, but I am no longer intimidated.

One of the reasons I enjoy cooking is the creative aspect, but as an operations guy, I also enjoy the process. A recipe is essentially a set of work instructions, usually poorly written. They leave out steps, get seasoning wrong, cooking times off. I usually have to make something 2-3 times before I know how it should work. The cookbooks are only the roughest guide.

One of PassageMaker’s greatest strengths is our ability to write solid bi-lingual work instructions that capture those critical nuances that make an assembly process actually work. The differences between a successful product and a warranty claim are minute – a torque setting here, an adhesive application there – but they are critical. When your money is on the line, don’t you want a team that knows how to cook and write a good recipe?

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