In this city-state, food plays a central role in daily life. From multi-star restaurants to street stalls, the culinary highlights of Singaporean cuisine are endless. As in almost every city globally, Singapore also has many
In this city-state, food plays a central role in daily life. From multi-star restaurants to street stalls, the culinary highlights of Singaporean cuisine are endless.
As in almost every city globally, Singapore also has many renowned Michelin-starred professional restaurants that appeal to gourmet palates. But those who are familiar with these restaurants say that the real flavor of local gastronomy is to be found in the street food centers, the eating areas where people gather to savor the delights of this country.
Singaporean cuisine reflects the cultural diversity that has made Singapore the world power it is today. In fact, among its typical dishes, you don’t have to look far to find the legacies of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisine that built its identity.
The centers’ hawker are generally very friendly for those not accustomed to the Asian frenzy. They are usually very clean and orderly, populated with tables surrounded by stalls specialized in different dishes. Here is a list of the 10 Singaporean dishes you should try.
1. Bak Chor Mee
The translation would be “noodles with minced meat,” and this is the Asian version of spaghetti bolognese. Noodles can be mee pok (large yellow ribbons, similar to fettuccine) or mee Kia (thinner, angel hairstyle). After being quickly immersed in boiling water, they are sprinkled with a mixture of black vinegar, soy sauce, and chili sauce, garnished with minced meat, slices of meat, meatballs, and liver (all from pork) as well as sautéed mushrooms, pea shoots, and a lettuce leaf.
2. Beef Rendang
Beef Rendang is an ideal dish to start in the Malay cuisine, very typical of the Peranakan culture (as the descendants of China who populated the Malay Peninsula are called). The first bite leaves no doubt about its ingredients: meat simmered in coconut milk and a paste of spices such as ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and turmeric. It melts in the mouth.
3. Carrot cake
Surprisingly, it is carrot free and soft. It is obtained by mixing boiled and grated white radish with rice flour until a coagulated form is obtained. This “cake” is broken and sautéed, adding an egg, soy sauce, white pepper, and chilli sauce, with green onion on top. This is the “white” version, while a thick, sweet soy sauce is added to the “dark” version.
4. Char Kway Teow
At first glance, these are sautéed noodles. The garlic and pork fat are fried in a super hot iron wok with two types of noodles, slices of Chinese sausage, pea sprouts, and fish paste. Seafood, such as shrimp or squid, is often added. Then one or two eggs and a mixture of soy sauce and oysters. It is usually served with chili paste and lime for a fillet.
5. Chicken Rice
Perhaps the most typical dish of Singaporean cuisine? It sounds simple, but it has to be adequately prepared. The chicken is boiled and then submerged in iced water to stop the cooking but keep the meat tender. It is accompanied by rice that has been cooked in chicken stock (with a few additions that make it very aromatic) and is accompanied by soy sauce, chili sauce, and ginger. It is also known among street vendors as “Hainanese chicken rice,” named after the Chinese dialect that has created it.
6. Chilli Crab
This national dish has its key in the thick, sweet, and spicy sauce, a combination of tomato, chili sauce, lime juice, and egg. To this, chili padi, one of the hottest chili peppers globally, is added to spice it up. The crab is cooked in this sauce, and the meat is sweet but succulent.
7. Fish Ball Noodles
The fish flesh formed into a dough gives these meatballs that fill the dishes of any hawker. They can be accompanied by different types of noodles (more or less comprehensive), and the obligatory question is whether you want them in a “soup” or “dry” version (on the plate) and with or without chili.
8. Nasi Lemak
Arroz en crema” (translation from Malay) is a popular dish in the region, consisting of rice cooked in coconut milk, ikan bilis (crispy anchovies as a snack), roasted peanuts, cucumber, a fried (or hard) egg, and fried chicken. It is accompanied by sambal (a mixture of spices, usually spicy) and is a very typical breakfast option—the challenge: eating with a spoon and fork.
9. Roti Prata
Or simply Prata, it is an unleavened bread, like pita, that is fried until golden and crisp, and eaten with curry. Similarly, the Murtabak is more extensive and comes stuffed with meat and vegetables.
It is a kind of kebab or brochette but without vegetables. First, meat pieces are paired with spices like turmeric, cumin, fennel, lemongrass, ginger, and sugar. They are placed on bamboo sticks and cooked over a fire on a charcoal grill. It is accompanied by a spicy peanut sauce that combines perfectly.
Have you heard of any other Singaporean dishes that should definitely be tried? Leave them in the comments below.