Island girl Inch Chua on why she doesn't often eat meat
Celebrity Chow with local singer Inch Chua
The word Inch Chua likes to use most to describe food is "humble".
Take the lunch she had with M at Season Live Seafood restaurant located on Pulau Ubin for instance.
It was a simple spread of fried rice, sambal sweet potato leaves, baby kailan and fried small squid, and that's just the way she likes it.
"The food here is different from the mainland's, because it's humble and uncomplicated," said the 26-year-old.
Earlier this year, the local singer-songwriter spent four months living on the island off the northeast coast of Singapore to write and record her new EP, Letters to Ubin.
Released online on Nov 27, the seven-track folktronica album features songs like Mousedeer, Granite and Simple Kind Of Life.
"Eating here also feels different because of the ambience. You have a view of the boats on the waterfront, wild dogs are running along the shore and the lady who owns this place is so friendly," she added.
Chua used to patronise Season Live Seafood about once every two days while hosting visiting friends, as it is one of her two favourite eateries on Pulau Ubin.
"The other one, Sin Lam Huat, has more erratic opening hours, but this one is consistently open," she said. "Honestly, I never knew the name of the restaurant until today. I just call it 'the one by the water'."
Chua, who loves her greens and was once a vegetarian for two years, tucked into the two veggie dishes with gusto.
"The squid is a bit of a treat, as I usually order just rice or noodles and a vegetable dish," she said. "The squid tastes really sweet and crunchy, and it has a great sauce with sesame seeds and cucumber and pineapple."
A fresh coconut served as both dessert and a drink. "You're crazy if you refuse a coconut in Ubin. It gets so hot here, and a coconut is so sweet and refreshing."
Did you cook a lot when you stayed on Ubin?
Yes, I made my own meals about half the time. The kampung house I rented didn't have electricity or running water, so I cooked with a mess tin over an open fire and drew my own water from the well.
I made simple food like maggi mee, ayam bakar (grilled chicken) with chillies and calamansi limes from my backyard, and tossed salads.
Sometimes, my neighbour's wife would invite me over on weekends. She'd cook a basic Chinese meal like rice, fish and stir-fried vegetables.
Would you ever hunt your own food?
I like to think I have good survival skills that would help me survive a zombie apocalypse. I'm sure I can kill a chicken if I had to, though I don't like the idea of doing it.
I don't often eat meat because I believe if you eat something, you have to be willing to kill it yourself. But I'm totally fine with fishing. Once, I caught a fish here and descaled and gutted it myself before cooking it. And I kept a parang in my house, so I would break open coconuts that fell outside and drink the juice.
Did you miss any food from the mainland?
I usually stayed on Ubin for about four days at a time, and I'd miss spicy food because the restaurant food here isn't that spicy. So when I visited Changi Village for grocery shopping, I'd get nasi padang.
But when I was staying here, food actually took a backseat to the music. I accepted that I was depriving myself of luxuries, including food. I found excitement in the simple things. Just some fried rice and veggies made me happier than eating at some expensive Japanese restaurant.
What are some of your favourite places to eat usually?
I like the "mom and pop" places, rather than chain restaurants. I would pick Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant over Tim Ho Wan, though I like both. And Pek Gio Market has really good carrot cake for $1.50, and a Michael Jackson (soy milk and grass jelly drink) is only 50 cents, so you can get a whole meal for just $2.
And what do you stay away from?
My last boyfriend was Brazilian, and it was so trying for me because he loved meat and I didn't. And I don't like parsley at all - it makes my face scrunch up. I'd never eat frozen peas, either. They're powdery and taste like something died in my mouth.