16
Mar
08

singapore.

foods.


SINGAPORE

 
a Southeast Asian melting pot 

In Singapore, people do not talk as much about the weather (forecast: hot, humid with torrential showers to break the hot spell) as much as foods. Eating is a kind of an official past time, especially with one of the largest variety of dishes with varying degrees of cultural, ethnic and religious influences in Southeast Asia. Settlers from China, India, Arab and Indonesia during Singapore’s early years, brought along with them their own cultures and food recipes; willing themselves to look beyond the boundaries of their own native tastebuds. This easy adaptability has lent the typical Chinese, Indian and Malay fares a very individual “Singaporean” character. “Hawker centres” are Singapore’s very own invention where all of Singapore’s favourite foods collectively combine under one roof, with cooks delivering a myriad of dishes while bounded by small bathroom-sized cubicles. You don’t have to get very far for a gastronomical adventure in Singapore; just pop down to the local neighbourhood hawker centre and savour the multi-cultural uniqueness of the country.

hawker-centre.jpg 

Hawker Centre

A typical Singaporean day starts with a good cup of teh tarik or kopi-O with slices of freshly toasted locally-made breads, spread generously with margarine and kaya, an immensely satisfying and heady concoction of sweet coconuts, eggs and pandan leaves. There is also Singapore’s beloved indian Roti Prata, which is made from dough, pan fried to reveal the some of the softest tissue-thin breads ever. Dipped in curry- almost nothing comes close.

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Kopi O & Kaya

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Roti Prata

And speaking of curries, the Fish Head Curry is entirely Singapore’s own- created by an Indian immigrant chief in Singapore’s early days, it is only found in Singapore and no where else; not even in India!

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Fish Head Curry

With the large number of Chinese in Singapore, naturally the best of the China’s province would be represented such as the Singapore’s beloved Hainanese Chicken Rice- roasted chicken cutlets with ginger, garlic and broth-infused rice. One also cannot leave Singapore without the savoury Bak Kut Teh, a local favourite among Singaporean Chinese who love meat broths that pack a heady herbal punch.

hainanese-chicken-rice-avlxyz.jpg 

Chicken Rice

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Bak Kut Teh

Also, the fact that there are so many different groups that there may be many variations to a single dish. One such dish is the Rujak. Originated from Indonesia (see the Indonesian entry), it is an Asian salad made with tropical raw fruits and vegetables like pineapples and cucumbers with peanut dippings. In Singapore, there is also the Chinese and Indian versions of the rujak. The Chinese version has the same ingredients but with fried Char Kuay (a long fried pastry) chopped in little pieces and served with a generous dose of black sweet peanut dressing. The Indian version on the other hand has fishcakes, pieces of fried pastry and pre-cooked meats served with a spicy dose of red peanut dipping.

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Malay Rujak

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Chinese Rojak

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Indian Rojak

Peranakans are Straits Chinese who had inter-marriaged with the Malayan Malays- bringing with them a unique blend of Chinese-meets-Malay cuisines. Most of their dishes have Malay names, but it is the ingredients that make the Peranakans different. Malays in Singapore are predominantly practice the Islamic faith and thus it is taboo for them to consume pork; Peranakans have a wide array of pork dishes like the backwan kepiting (Porkball Soup). Another famous peranakan dish is Ayam Masak Buah Keluak, which in Malay literally translates to “Chicken cooked with Keluak fruit”- which by using the buah keluak, the dish is already unique as not many Southeast Asian dish uses the spice as a main ingredient rather than as seasoning.

bakwan-kepiting-tanlinteck.jpg 

Bakwan Kepiting

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yam Buah Keluak

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5 Responses to “singapore.”


  1. 1 hariz
    March 24, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    wat about yong tau foo or sup tulang? i think that’s uniquely singaporean.

  2. 2 siti.
    March 27, 2008 at 2:00 am

    oh yearh. well, i’m not sure about sup tulang being singaporean because there’re the same versions in malaysia but i’ll go do more research and i’ll let you know.

  3. November 12, 2008 at 6:47 am

    heading to singapore soon. can you recommend a place for ultra light roti, or is every hawker stand equally outstanding. I hear the east coast has great food along with chinatown and little india.

  4. 4 siti.
    April 20, 2009 at 3:40 am

    hey anthony, sorry for the late reply. i totally missed the update from wordpress & i haven’t been to the blog for over a year, especially since the school project that it was based on ended last year. in any case, i hope you had a great ‘gastronomical’ time in singapore while you were here.

    if by “ultra light roti” you mean the “tissue prata”, there’s this famous Jalan Kayu prata shop where some say the prices are slightly overrated for the prata they churn out. But, it’s a decent place to start if you’re new here. Komala’s (NOT the fast food-lookalike outlet) at Little India is great too though i wouldn’t go there for the prata but for everything else like dosai & briyani. the temporary hawker centre where the original Tekka Market indian hawkers are supposed to relocate to at Farrer Park have some of the best chappati stalls, in my humble opinion anyway. for other more uniquely singaporean-indian food fare, there’s this hawker centre at Beach Road where the 2nd floor is converted to a National Servicemen’s haven, and where the “tulang” is just beyond awesome. ask any taxi driver and he will direct you to the place. just say “Beach Road, where NS men buy their NS things”.
    if you happened to be craving for malay food, Hajah Maimunah near Arab Street/Bugis is a great place to start. if you’re still hungry, there’s awesome “murtabak” at nearby Zam Zam, in front of the Sulan Mosque..

    generally, i would say that you should try to stir up conversations with the local taxi drivers- they’re a minefield of reliably great information on some of the best out-of-reach food haunts in Singapore.

    i’m sorry i couldn’t have been more helpful for i really should have replied earlier. do look out for these places if you happen to drop by singapore again. 😀


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