A transport hub conveniently located at the centre of South East Asia, Singapore is a great place to start your Asian adventure. It’s the second most densely populated country in the world (second to Monaco) and packed with different nationalities and cultures which means that Singaporean cuisine offers us something very special indeed!
In terms of population, the ‘big 3’ refers to Indian, Malay and Chinese; all of which contribute hugely to the varied cuisines on offer in this cultural paradise. Although Singaporean cuisine is indicative of the ethnic diversity of the country, with various other ethnicities adding their culinary skills to the melting pot (pun entirely intended!). Let’s have a look at some of the food you’d be crazy to miss here:
Chinese: With a huge Chinese contingent, Chinese food is everywhere in Singapore. However, many of their dishes have been altered over the years to suit the local taste, also there has been a noticeable Malay influence too so Singaporean Chinese cuisine cannot be considered mainstream Chinese, all the more reason to try everything you can!
Yusheng – a raw fish salad eaten during Chinese New Year, normally strips of salmon and shredded vegetables along with a host of other condiments. This was invented in the 60s by a Singaporean chef and has gone global in recent years – delicious!
Hainanese Chicken Rice – Simply steamed chicken served with rice eaten with ginger, soy and chili paste. This is a signature dish of Singapore and is not actually available in Hainan!
Kaya Toast – a staple Singaporean breakfast. Sweet coconut and egg jam spread over toast. This is normally taken with some local coffee and a half-boiled egg. You’ll be set for the day!
Malay/Indonesian: Different from standard Malaysian and Indonesian fare, these dishes often use a lot of coconut milk and spices, check these out:
Curry Puff – sometimes known as epok-epok, a pastry stuffed with curried chicken, cubed potatoes and a slice of hard-boiled egg. Not too spicy and a great snack to keep you going in the Singaporean heat!
Agar-Agar – agar derived from seaweed and moulded into a jelly-cake thing, a very strange texture! You won’t find this at home, that’s for sure.
Acar – pickled vegetables, dried chili, peanuts and spices. A strong tasty snack, that should really be served in a bar with a pint of beer if you ask me!
India: A distinct Tamil feel marks most of the Indian dishes found around Singapore, one visit to the Little India will have you coming back day after day. So cheap and extra delicious, have a taste of these gems:
Roti Prata – Breakfast or late night supper, not complete without sugar and curry. A fried dough, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside served with egg, cheese, chocolate, massala… anything you can lay your hands on in fact.
Putu Mayam – Vermicelli-like cakes complete with coconut sugar. A great breakfast fix!
Ok guys, these dishes should keep your stomach full for a few days in Singapore. None of them should break the bank and all will leave you with a great impression of the true Singaporean cuisine. Happy travels!