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Home Cook Q&A: This French Expat In Singapore Shares How Her Tahitian Roots Still Influence Her Recipe Repertoire

(image: Daphne Schieveen)

“I have lived in Singapore for almost nine years,” says Hinano Yeung, this month’s featured participant from the International Cooking Club Singapore (ICCS). “Prior to moving here, I lived in France, Germany, New Zealand, Malaysia and Australia.”

In fact, Hinano, who used to be a food scientist developing recipes and products for major food companies around the world, was born in France. “But,” she shares, “I grew up in Tahiti, as my mother is from Tahiti and my father from France.”

With such eclectic life experience, it’s not surprising her home-cooked recipes are both varied and plentiful. However, her repertoire of dishes expanded even more after she joined ICCS – just when the non-profit group was forming in 2015.

“I have always been passionate about learning how to cook good food and enjoying eating,” says Hinano, whose husband, Jimmy, is from Tahiti, too. (The couple has three boys: Hugo, 8; Benoit, 5; and Noah, 3, who is pictured with his mum further down in this article.)

“When I joined ICCS, it was the best place to meet some amazing ladies who shared the same love for food. I’ve learned a lot about different cuisines, ingredients and cultures. I also found in ICCS my food soul mates and great friends.”

(image: Jimmy Yeung)

Two of Hinano’s recipes – French Polynesian Banana Crepes (shown at top) and French Polynesian Tuna and Coconut Milk Salad (shown below) – were included in ICCS’s The Red Dot Melting Pot Cookbook, which recently won a coveted Singapore Good Design 2020 (a.k.a., the SG Mark), as the judges felt it epitomized the merits of Empathy, Value, Inspiration, Ethics & Responsibly, Sustainability and Progress.

Impressive awards aside, Hinano says her family and friends have resoundingly “loved the cookbook [for] its vast range of international recipes.” Plus, her two recipes “really represent Tahiti well: yummy and easy to prepare.”

Find out more fascinating food facts from and about this well-traveled woman in SG:

(image: Daphne Schieveen)

When did you first learn to cook?

“My family loves cooking. When I think of my childhood, I remember us – my parents, my sisters and brother – being busy in the kitchen, grating fresh coconut from the garden or cutting thin slices of fresh tuna or making jam from our garden fruits. That’s how I learned to cook – by helping my parents in the kitchen.”

Tell us about your previous professional cooking experience.

“Before being a full-time mom, I used to be a food scientist. So, when I try a recipe, I am always adapting it to the taste of my family or even to the ingredients available – like a food scientist who needs to translate the taste of the consumer to a final product. But, my kitchen is not organised like a lab, as my kids love helping in the kitchen and ingredients gets everywhere.”

What are some of your favourite dishes to cook from your home country?

“We love fish in our family, especially raw fish prepared like a ceviche or sashimi or even a tartare – and make it about once a month. My kids also love eating banana crepes as a snack or breakfast, so we have that every two weeks. Another Tahitian dish that my family enjoys is coconut bread with fresh coconut milk.”

Where do you buy good-quality, authentic ingredients in SG for such dishes?

“When we prepare a Tahitian-style ceviche or sashimi, I always buy sashimi-grade fish at a Japanese supermarket like Meidi-Ya or Isetan, as the fish is air flown from Japan – ensuring top freshness.

For coconut milk, it is better to make your own, using fresh-grated coconut, which can be found at Tekka Market [though not during the circuit breaker]. When I have no time to get it fresh, I use Ayam Brand coconut milk, as there are no preservatives inside.”

How has living in SG influenced your cooking?

“I became a mother in Singapore, so I adapted my cooking for my kids – like using less chilli and ensuring it is always healthy. We all eat the same food as a family, because I am really trying to teach my kids to love all types of food.

Now, being here for nine years and loving food so much, we eat a lot of different cuisines and always try new recipes and new flavors.”

(image: Jimmy Yeung)

How has the circuit breaker changed how you buy ingredients and cooking supplies?

“I have been doing most of my grocery shopping online using different platforms like RedMart, Open Taste, Le Petit Depot and The Meat Club, and – if I can’t get what’s needed online – I will go to the shops like Phoon Huat for baking supplies.”

When you’re not cooking, what are your favourite places in SG to dine out or order in?

“As a food lover, I like to try new places when I go out. But there are a few places I always go back to – like Suju Masayuki, a Japanese restaurant my kids love. When I crave for a nice croissant and my kids want some chouchou, we go to Choupinette. For good sourdough bread or some nice cakes, I like Micro bakery & kitchen.

Right now, we are ordering about once a week to show some support to the restaurants in Singapore. So far, we’ve enjoyed Jim Thompson for Thai.”

Before the coronavirus travel restrictions went into place, what types of foodstuffs would you bring back to Singapore from your travels?

“I love spices, so when I travel I look for spices in the local market. But, I am always tempted to bring back beautiful ingredients from places I visit. So, in my luggage, you will sometimes find guava jam from Tahiti, butter and cheese from France, strawberries and persimmons from Japan. There is always room for food!”


About International Cooking Club Singapore (ICCS)

International Cooking Club Singapore (ICCS) is a non-profit organisation consisting of approximately 300 participants from more than 97 countries divided into 26 cooking and baking groups. They rotate homes and teach one another culinary skills. ICCS created The Red Dot Melting Pot Cookbook, a top-ranked cookbook containing 223 authentic recipes from 75 countries. Follow ICCS on Instagram at @iccs_sg as well as its cookbook page @reddotmeltingpotcookbook for a regular dose of delicious recipes!




By Sara Lyle Bow, May 2020

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