Singapore cuisine is as ethnically diverse as its peoples, a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Western influences. A visit to one of the hawker centers or shopping mall food courts will be as eye-opening as gastronomically gratifying.
Laksa is, without a doubt, one of the tastiest things on earth and certainly one of the tastiest dishes Singapore has to offer. In Singapore, Laksa refers to thick rice vermicelli served with a curry gravy made from spices for fragrance, chilli for heat, coconut milk for that creamy rich mouth feel and tiny dried prawns for that umami kick. It is a cross between Chinese and Malay cuisine. The Curry Laksa was once only enjoyed by wealthy Peranakans (Straits Chinese) at home. When WWII struck, some of these Peranakan ladies — Nonyas as they are called, came out to the streets to sell some of their food in order to make a living.Laksa also has many variants, but the one in Singapore is katong laksa, with cut-up noodles. Cockles and tofu puffs are sometimes added.
Hokkien Prawn Mee
The Hokkien prawn mee is the one of signature dish in Singapore. Hokkien Mee actually refers to the thick yellow noodles that originated from the Fujian province in China. So there are many different ways of preparing it. In Singapore, if you say Fried Hokkien Mee, it is quite clear as the same Noodles served in soup is referred to as Prawn Mee. The Singapore version uses thick, flat egg noodles. Each serving comes with sambal sauce and a lime wedge, to tone down the oily taste on top of the dish. These elements give extra kick to the food and make it more lively and presentable. On the other hand, some food stalls in the country serves the Hokkien Prawn Mee with Opei leaf (a yielding palm bark) to improve and boost the smell of the recipe.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
When you see succulent cooked chicken hanging neatly in a row at a food stall, you are looking at one of Singapore’s national dishes – Hainanese Chicken Rice. A ubiquitous sight in hawker centers across the country, it is also on the menu in many major restaurants and even hotel cafes. All offer the same dish at varying prices: bite-sized chicken pieces – or a whole chicken if you’re eating as a big group – served with fragrant rice and a spicy chili and ginger paste. This all-time favorite dish makes for a quick, fulfilling lunch.
Char Kuay Teow
Char kuay teow is a flat noodle dish that literally translates to “stir-fried rice cake strips”. There is a local saying that goes “Teochew Kuay Teow, Hokkien Mee”, which essentially means that Kuay Teow is the traditional staple of the Teochews while Hokkien Noodles is staple of the Hokkiens. They are cooked over high heat in usually (wait for it) pork lard (doesn’t matter, it’s so good) with soy sauce, shrimp paste, bean sprouts, seafood, sausage and/or whatever the cook desires. Broad white noodles fried with black Soya sauce, bean sprouts, fish cake, clams and Chinese sausage. What makes the Singapore version distinct is that Char Kuay Teow isn’t just Char Kuay Teow but actually Char Kuay Teow Mee because it is only in Singapore that both Teochew Kuay Teow and Hokkien Noodles are used in the dish. This makes it a bit more complicated to fry since you have to contend with a noodle made from rice and one that is made from wheat!
Fish Head Curry
Fish head curry is unique to Singapore, the epitome of a cultural melting pot. It mixes the spices of a typical South Indian curry with the fish head, a delicacy among the Chinese. There are generally two types of Fish Head Curry. The Indian type, which is spicier and heavier, and the Chinese or Perankan type. A huge fish head and vegetables cooked in a curry and served with rice or bread. Usually accompanied by a glass of ‘calamansi’ or local lime juice. Its origins are in South Indian, with Chinese and Malay influences. In some versions, tamarind juice is added to give a sweet-sour taste. The red snapper fish head is first steamed and then cooked in a mildly spiced assam or tamarind based curry sauce together with tomatoes lady fingers, sliced onions and fresh chillies. The fish is cooked perfectly, firm and moist with a delectable sweetness of the flesh.
Chilli crab hits all the right spots with tangy gravy that seeps into the succulent flesh of the stir-fried crab. Chilli crab is among Singapore’s greatest culinary inventions, the king of all crab dishes. It is easily available in most seafood restaurants, which typically serve it with mud crabs that have deliciously sweet and juicy flesh. The steamed crabs are partially cracked, then lightly stir-fried in a paste comprising of chili sauce, ketchup and eggs. Despite its name, chili crab is not all that spicy. Bread is normally ordered to soak up the gravy, so dig in with both hands!
Char Siew Rice or Noodles
The kind of char siew is the juicy, slightly fatty and sweet type. There are some that like the dryer, less sweet versions and well roasted but soft lean pork meat. Rice or noodles served with a generous serving of barbecued pork in a thick sauce. This dished have very simple ingredients and you’d be amazed at how those simple ingredients combine to give that unique char siew. You can find any type of Char Siew Rice you desire.
East Coast Lagoon Food Centre happens to house one of the few Satay Clubs in Singapore! Basically a Satay “Club” is where you can find many stalls selling satay. These clubs often sell the Malay version of the dish. Satay is probably one of the most famous South East Asian dish known overseas. Skewered grilled meat served with rice cake (ketupat), peanut sauce and cucumber-chili relish. It has a strong turmeric scent and flavor, as this spice is the key marinade ingredient. Choose from pork, chicken, beef or mutton. Satay seems like a favorable meat snack no matter how one looks at it. However, there is some nutritive value to satay and its accompaniments when taken in moderation or as a monthly indulgence.
The oyster omelette was succulent at the first taste, you can fully appreciate the goodness of the well fried oysters omelette, the slightly charred eggs and juicy oysters. An egg omelette mixed with flour and fried with a generous helping of small oysters garnished with coriander leaves. This is an omelet hugging several oysters accentuated by the taste of cilantro that breaks the fishy pungent drama it has. This one tasted good and they cook it to a point where the oyster is still a little raw.
Barbecued seafood is one of Singapore’s favorite pig-outs. And one dish that nearly always gets ordered is stingray (skate). Mostly, its appeal lies in its unique texture. Stingray doesn’t have fine bones, which makes eating it a breeze. Also, its silky smooth and tender flesh seems to go especially well with a robust sambal belacan spread. The classic version features stingray meat slated in thick sambal sauce – a spicy condiment with diced tomatoes, chilies and shrimp paste as base ingredients – then wrapped in banana leaf to be cooked slowly on a grill.