Roti Prata or Roti Canai (as they call it in Malaysia) has its influence from Pakistan and India and is a comfort food for many Singaporeans young and old. It is a pancake made up of flour that is fried over a flat round iron pan and usually served with a side dish of vegetable, chicken or fish curry. For those who are not able to handle the spiciness of curry, they may even eat it with sugar. Roti Prata usually comes plain (kosong) or with egg (telor or plaster), and some other variations may include it being mixed with sliced onion, cheese, banana, sardines and chocolate sauce.
Steamed Kai-lan With Oyster Sauce
This is a vegetable dish that is not only quick to prepare but also easy and nutritious. Because of its ease in preparation, it can be found at most stalls, namely those that sell chicken rice, Zhi-Char or claypot dishes. This fuss-free dish is prepared by serving steamed or blanched Chinese brocolli/kale or “kai-lan” drizzled with a mix of sesame oil, oyster and soy sauce and garnished with fried shallots and garlic.
Salted Vegetables & Duck Soup
This is a Chinese “giam chye ark” and Peranakan “itek tim” duck soup recipe that uses preserved salted mustard greens and duck meat as the main ingredients. The salted vegetables are firstly soaked to remove most of its salt content before being used. What gives this dish the exciting dimensions of flavours is that the soup is cooked for a length of time with a recipe of salted vegetables, Chinese preserved sour plums, tomatoes, tamarind slices, peppercorns, ginger and duck until its meat becomes soft and tender. The overall result is a tasty and refreshing soup that is sweet, salty, sour and peppery.
Putu Piring is a Malay snack or dessert of Sri Lankan and South Indian origins that is a type of circular steamed ground rice cakes covering pure melted palm sugar in the centre, hence its name “rice flour plate“. Putu Piring is prepared by placing the ground rice flour in conical shaped funnels after which “gula melaka” or brown sugar (from Malacca in Malaysia) is put in the middle as its filling. It is then left to steam for a couple of minutes before served piping hot with a generous portion of slightly salted grated coconut on pieces of banana leaf.
Claypot Chicken Rice
Claypot chicken rice as the name implies is typically rice cooked with marinated chicken (usually Chinese wine) over a certain period of time in a claypot. Other ingredients like oyster and dark soy sauce, Chinese sausage, vegetables, mushrooms and salted fish are also added that would enhance the overall taste. They are all cooked together over a charcoal flame for some time, thereby allowing the dish to develop a distinct flavour with a very slight burnt and smokey fragrance.
Wanton Noodles or “Meat Dumpling Noodles” has no particular style of preparation as it all depends on the dialect group of the stall owner that is selling them. However, this noodle dish is usually served with barbequed pork slices or “Char Siew“, lard pieces, special sauces including chilli and garnished with leafy vegetables that is usually “Cai-Xin” (Mustard Leaves) or “Kai-Lan” (Chinese Kale). As it is usually eaten dry with chilli, it also comes with a side serving of bite-sized pork dumplings in a hot broth. Sometimes, the stalls even serve it with another kind of dumplings called “shui jiao” that consists of a mix of pork, prawns and sometimes chicken with mushroom or even fried wantons instead.
Stir Fried Sweet Potato Leaves With Garlic
This dish is available in most Zhi-Char or “home-cooked” stalls that can be found in many hawker centres all around. This is a simple dish that uses sweet potato leaves stir fried with chopped garlic, dried shrimp, soy sauce and cut chilli padis. This is not only a nutritious dish that is easy to prepare, the result is a wonderful balance between salty and spicy when eaten with white rice.
Raw Fish Salad
This is the Chinese version of the salad that uses sliced raw fish and usually goes very well with a bowl of ‘chok‘ or congee. The salad mix consists of good quality raw fish combined with shredded cabbage and lettuce, sliced ginger, spring onions, cut chilli and fried shallots, which are then drizzled and tossed well with sesame oil and other soy sauces. Limes are also provided at the side and the juice is squeezed into the dish that would provide a very good balance of flavours.
Lor Mee or ‘gravy noodles’, as translated from the Hokkien dialect is a well known Chinese noodle dish favoured by many locals. In this dish you would have thick flat yellow noodles or bee hoon served in a thick and dark starchy gravy made up of corn starch, soy sauce, meat or fish stock, spices and eggs. There is no fixed set of ingredients that hawkers add to this rich tasting gravy but most of the time, it is usually mixed with servings of fried meat balls, fish meat (often mackerel) or braised pork, fish cake slices, fish fritters, meat dumplings, braised egg and other ingredients that they see fit to enhance the overall taste. For those who enjoy having a much stronger flavour, vinegar, chopped garlic and red chilli are also available for them to add on to their dish.
Steamed Fish Head with Black Bean Sauce
Fish head is commonly seen as a delicacy in Asia and they are often widely cooked in curries, soups and stir fry dishes. It is also highly nutritional due to the good fat and collagen found in areas like the gills and cheek of the fish. In this particular dish, the fish head is steamed together with fermented black beans, soy sauce, garlic, Chinese wine and garnished with cut chilli padis and spring onions. When eaten together with white rice, the result is a pleasantly sweet and salty balance of flavours that comes from the good combination of black beans, soya sauce and briny freshness of the fish.