A while back, a fellow WordPress user, thepinkpigeonpost, stopped by my blog and asked me to show some Singaporean food. Many ideas came to mind, but it’s not that easy.
One thing about my country that I’m proud of is our food paradise. It comes with our multi-racial and multi-religious culture. Whatever you can think of, chances are a street stall or a restaurant in this ‘tiny red dot’ offers it. Not everything, but enough variety to leave one spoilt for choice.
However, how exactly do we define Singaporean food when most of it originated from elsewhere? I don’t know the answer to that. We do have our famous Hainanese Chicken Rice and Chilli Crab, but I want to go into other alternatives that tourists (maybe Singaporeans?) may not know about.
Hence, instead of Singaporean food, here is a list of some of Singapore’s (in my opinion, anyway) favourites!
One of the popular street food choices, this gooey and chewy rice dough together with the powdery sweet peanut is a fun snack to munch on. You can find them at $1-$2 in a number of malls. Chinatown is another spot that will guarantee you a box of these.
Singapore’s national dish is the Chilli Crab. Another popular choice among Singaporeans is the Black Pepper Crab. Sadly, the Butter Crab doesn’t get enough appreciation in my opinion. There are apparently two common variations of this dish: one with creamy butter sauce while the other looks like the one above. The sweetness of the butter and the soft flesh of the crab makes this one of my personal favourites.
This is a common sight during breakfast at hawker centres. It may not look like much, but these sticks of fried dough go extremely well with a cup of coffee in the morning. It also comes as a topping for porridge. Bear in mind the good ones are always crispy. Count yourself lucky if you get one freshly made, for You Tiao is best eaten when it’s hot.
Yong Tau Foo
The healthiest option on this list. It’s all about mixing in ingredients that you fancy. Some examples include lettuce, mushrooms, crab sticks, fish balls, tofu, chilli, bean curd, fish cakes and more. Personally, I love the tofu with cheese filling in it. Use tongs to pick what you want, dump it in a bowl, decide if you want noodles or rice with it, choose your broth and there you go! Prices vary according to the type and number of ingredients.
Kaya Toast and Half-boiled Eggs
Another common sight during breakfast, this is simply toasted bread with kaya and a slice of butter. Eggs will be served in a container with boiling water where they will stay for a few minutes. After that, just crack it open! Pour some soy sauce, sprinkle some pepper and eat it in spoonfuls or slurp it all up. I have eaten this way too many times I might have started to take the delightful taste for granted.
I’m not sure what is the best way to put it, but there is a ‘Chinese’ version and a ‘Malay’ version. I have tried both, and both are equally nice. Traditionally, the dish contains cucumber slices, ikan bilis, roasted peanuts, a hard-boiled egg and hot spicy sauce. However, there are many stalls offering more ingredients. Generally, Nasi Lemak is a classic example of humble ‘Singaporean food’.
I’ve eaten this only a couple of times. It’s a shame there’s chilli in it, as I cannot handle spicy food. This delicacy is mostly made from fish meat and is grilled over a fire while being wrapped in a coconut or banana leaf. Describing the taste is tough since my tongue was focusing on the spicy aspect of it back then. Singapore’s version has turmeric, curry powder and chilli in it. I’ll leave the taste to your imagination.
In short, the fried version of a pancake. The flavour is light and there is a bit of sweetness in it. You can eat it plain or request for an egg to be added (in which the price becomes a dollar). I usually eat it with sprinkles of sugar, but most of the time dhal or curry is served along with a plate of Roti Prata. You’ll probably get to see people making it first-hand too. Trust me, this is one very oily pancake. But, who cares?
Curry Fish Head
My mom has an obsession with this dish (not me). People describe it as a “spicy-hot curry with vegetables with a sour-tasting tamarind flavour”. Singapore’s Curry Fish Head is a hybrid, meaning it mixes influences from the Indian, the Chinese and the Malay. Soft fish meat complemented by a variety of spices makes this one of Singapore’s most well-loved dishes. My mom can testify to this statement.
With all that being said, here’s a word of advice to anyone coming to Singapore. If you want to taste true ‘Singaporean food’, don’t just hang out in the city area or Sentosa! Visit cultural precincts like Chinatown, Kampong Glam, Little India and Joo Chiat. Or go to hawker centres in other neighbourhoods. To give you an idea of what one looks like:
It will be crowded, noisy, messy and at times, rowdy. Getting a seat is probably the hardest part if the place is packed (if you find one, make sure at least one person remains behind when the rest gets food or the table gets ‘stolen’!). But get past that and you’ll be in foodie heaven 🙂