Laksa is a Peranakan cuisine that has been derived from the influence and combination of the ethnic Chinese and Malay cuisines. This dish is a spicy and creamy coconut based curry that is usually eaten with thin white vermicelli (rice noodles) or “chor been hoon” as the main ingredient. The curry would be made up of a good mix of thick and creamy spicy concoction comprising lemongrass, shrimp paste, fish based soup stock and coconut milk. This is then mixed together with fried bean curd pieces, slices of fish cake, bean sprouts, shrimp and cockles, and garnished with chopped coriander. For that extra oomph, this dish is often commonly served with a spoonful of sambal chilli paste .
Sesame Oil Ginger Chicken in Claypot
This is a comfort food that strikes the heart of many people due to the fact that it is commonly cooked at home. This stew-like dish is easy to make through using very simple ingredients like chicken parts, sesame oil, ginger, dark and light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, oyster sauce and spring onion as a garnish. These ingredients are all cooked and simmered together in a claypot for a period of time until the aroma of ginger and sesame oil emits. This comfort food is often eaten with rice due to the good balance of flavours from the sauce based stew.
Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh or “Pork Rib Tea” as translated in English is an herbal tonic soup consisting of meaty pork ribs simmered in a rich and tasty pork broth made up of garlic, Chinese herbs, spices and vegetables. The pork ribs are usually cooked in the complex broth mix for long periods until the meat falls off the bone. The fat from the meat also blends with the broth, thus enhancing the overall flavour of the entire dish. Bak kut teh is usually eaten with rice and often comes with “youtiao” or dough fritters that are dipped into the soup and eaten. For that full complexity of flavours, a condiment consisting of dark soya sauce, minced garlic and sliced chilli padi is also used as a dipping sauce.
Rojak is the Malay name given to this traditional vegetable and fruit salad dish that is usually prepared by Chinese hawkers. Meaning ‘mixture’ in English, this dish consists of an exciting mix of sliced pineapple and cucumber, bean sprouts, turnip, deep fried tofu or “taupok” and dough fritters or “youtiao“. At some hawker centres, raw and unripe mango, green apple and jambu air or “water guava” are also used. All these ingredients are then mixed thoroughly with a pasty dressing consisting of shrimp paste, water, sugar, chilli paste, tamarind, lime juice and finally served with toppings of finely chopped peanuts. The mix of sour, salty and sweet flavours gives this dish a unique and exciting burst of zesty goodness.
Popiah or fresh spring rolls consist of an outer layer that is a thin crepe-like ‘skin’ usually made up of wheat flour. It is usually prepared by laying the skin flat and then sweet sauce, chilli paste and garlic are spread over the skin. A fresh vegetables mix comprising turnip, toufu cubes, bean sprouts, lettuce leaves, grated carrots combined with some sliced Chinese sausage, shrimp and finely chopped peanuts are then placed in the middle and the entire ingredients are firmly wrapped into a roll. This is usually a favourite choice among calorie conscious people and vegetarians alike, as it is a light and healthy meal and the Chinese sausage and other undesired meat ingredients can be requested to be omitted.
Minced Meat and Fish/Pork Ball Noodles
This dish comes in many variations and they would usually be served in either thick (Mee Pok) or thin (Mee Kia) egg noodles, soup or dry. In these particular dry versions, thicker noodles are used and they are tossed with lard pieces and oil, vinegar, chilli, soya and other sauces, and thoroughly mixed together with bean sprouts, vegetables, stewed mushrooms, minced pork, fish balls, sliced fish cake and pork balls. This is a dish that is well balanced on the palate as the springy texture of the fish balls goes very well with the meaty flavours of the other meat ingredients.
Congee with Dough Fritter
This is one of the most common breakfast staple choices among many Singaporeans and it comes prepared in a variety of main ingredients like Minced Pork, Shredded Chicken, Sliced Fish or Century Egg. Mostly found in neighbourhood hawker centres, this dish is also known to the locals as ‘chok’ and is served piping hot garnished with fried shallots, spring onions, ginger slices and sesame oil. For most people, eating it with a piece of Dough Fritter would make this hearty breakfast complete.