Ah, the appeal of work-from-home. The enduring pull of zero commute, the rewards of watching your newborn child grow up literally right in front of your eyes. The sweaty, hungry (older) children, the home-based-learning, the home-cooked meals you planned to start and then can’t commit to doing. And when you do cook, the heavy pots, the endless mess, the trash… so much trash to haul out, so much leftover food to keep cold. Is this you? And is remote work causing pandemic cooking burnout to you?
Well, maybe you don’t have to dread setting foot in the kitchen, or view cooking as a daunting task in your long to-do list. You don’t even need to cook at all. Maybe all you need to eat well at home these days are proper ready-to-eat (RTE) meals.
Restaurant-style RTE dishes
‘Instant’ meals have come a long way in the past few years. For people of a certain age, the thought of instant food conjures images of vacuum-sealed Army ration packs or a pantry full of cup noodles. From canned tuna to 3-in-1 sachets, RTE meals have long been left to two kinds of purchasers: ‘effortless’ cooks with little sense of actual taste and pandemic grocery hoarders. Not anymore.
These days, frozen RTE brands like halal-certified I’m Chef by CS Foods offer a variety of restaurant-style dishes to choose from, carefully labeling their packaging with ingredients, heating instructions, and even QR codes that link to cooking videos. Better still: All these meals require is a microwave, a couple of cups of boiling water (or less), and a few minutes. Cleanup is as simple as disposing of the empty packaging.
New Japanese series with U.S. Beef
Building on their existing repertoire of Italian, French and Singaporean culinary offerings, I’m Chef recently launched a new Japanese series — perfect for those who bemoan the exclusion of Japan from the Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme.
“Japanese food is definitely on top of Singaporeans favourite cuisines. While there are a decent number of Halal-certified Japanese restaurants in Singapore, Halal-certified Japanese meals are still lacking in the RTE space,” said Jacqueline Loh, Marketing & Partnerships Manager in CS Foods.
Here’s what to know about the new Japanese dishes:
Like most comfort food, a steaming bowl of gyudon is ideally eaten after a long day of Zoom calls when your soul is tired but you still have to do OT. With seaweed rice, a slight depth to the tsuyu sauce, generous chunks of U.S. beef short plate, and caramelised onions, it’s a winning combo meant to refuel you and also make you adequately full.
Beef Gyumeshi, S$6
The beef gyumeshi is basically the default base of the aforementioned gyudon. It’s versatile (try eating it with soba, udon, or baguette for some banh mi action), heat up quickly in boiling water, and you can even add an onsen egg to coast this meal over the finish line. I also appreciate how thinly sliced the U.S. beef short plate is, allowing for the right ratio of meat and fats in every bite.
Japanese Curry Gyudon, S$8.50
Unlike ramen and sushi, halal Japanese curry is relatively hard to find here in Singapore. What makes this curry gyudon such a surprise (if a tad sweet) hit is that it doesn’t try to do anything fancy. The curry’s thick, rich texture coupled with the U.S. braised beef chunks and Japanese rice makes this a very comforting meal, almost like dining in an obscure shokudo under a railway line in Tokyo.
Japanese Curry Beef, S$6.50
For a similar alternative sans rice, the 200g-pouch Japanese Curry Beef is ideal as a robust side dish. The tender beef brisket is braised in sweet and savoury Japanese curry, although I’d suggest adding cayenne, black pepper or even cili padi to bump up the heat. Whipping this up is super easy — once perfectly thawed, heat the entire pack in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, and it’s ready to be served. Pair this with udon, or even instant noodles for a quick and easy meal.
Blast frozen, not preservatives, to lock in all the good stuff
If there is one thing that gives frozen food a bad rep, it is this: lower quality in taste and freshness. Part of the problem, as we found out, is in the freezing method. Unlike the conventional freezers we have at home, CS Foods uses commercial shock freezers which rapidly bring down the temperature of fresh produce. This process halts the spread of bacteria more quickly, resulting in food that is both fresher and safer to eat.
Fun fact: Blast freezing enables CS Foods to omit the use of preservatives in their products and yet they can be stored for a longer period of time.
As an amateur cook, I’m not an expert on the nuances of flavour but I prefer to eat fresh wherever possible. Technology has come a long way in keeping food as fresh as possible, so whenever a brand can assure me of this aspect, I’m sold.
About CS Foods
CS Foods is an online butchery that supplies halal-certified chilled and frozen poultry, meat and seafood from all over the world. The company was established in 1988, so that’s over 30 years of experience in the food industry. Their online store is where you go to for every cut of meat you might possibly need, from fatty ribs perfect as steaks to thinly sliced beef plates for shabu shabu.
Having access to premium quality meat has also allowed CS Foods to diversify their offerings to also include RTE products. Their in-house R&D team along with a qualified chef team up to produce nutritious, diverse, and preservative-free food backed with their food science research.
To shop CS Foods products, click here. Happy (online) shopping!
Super Sale up to 35% OFF + EXTRA 5% OFF for The Halal Eater readers
For a limited time only, CS Foods is having a sale up to 35% off for some of its products including the Japanese series. For instance, the Japanese Curry Beef is on sale at S$5 (U.P S$6.50), so consider this a reminder to stock up your freezer.
On top of that, use code IMCHEFHALAL5 at checkout to get an additional 5% OFF* your purchase.
View the full list of sale items here.
Free delivery for orders above S$60.
*The coupon code will be valid until 31st December 2021, and only applicable on products in the Japanese series.