Diverse is the word to describe Singapore when it comes to food. Singapore is a small island country that is comprised of many ethnic groups—Chinese, Malays, Indians, etc. With various ethnic groups come various culinary delicacies making Singapore a perfect place to try assorted food that is both exotic and delicious. Many dining options in Singapore offer “fusion food”, a combination of food from different cultures and countries. The result is a scrumptious blend of flavors that taste just right—not too spicy and not too sweet. Singapore food includes many of the ingredients from the Chinese and Indian cuisine. Indian food is known for heavy use of spices that gives the food a hot and pungent flavor. Chinese food on the other hand, have a milder taste. The fusion between the intense and the mild flavors creates many unique Singaporean dishes which even picky eaters can enjoy. Due to the ethnic diversity in the country, food in Singapore has to be edible by different groups of people. For instance, Muslims (Malays) do not eat pork and Hindus (Indians) do not eat beef. Eating places therefore, have to take this into consideration and have food options catered to diverse groups of crowds.
This Singapore signature dish is popular not only within the country, but it is popular in China and Thailand as well. Although this dish is made up of only a few ingredients, but it tastes oh-so-good! This menu is made up of boiled chicken with a side of white rice cooked in chicken broth and crushed garlic. They are served with slices of cucumber, cilantro, curdled chicken blood (sometimes), hot winter melon soup, and dipping sauce made from ginger, garlic, chili, and dark soy sauce. Many people like Hainanese chicken and rice because although the overall flavor of the boiled chicken is bland, but it got that nice touch of spicy and salty flavors from the dipping sauce and a hint of “oily-garlicky” flavor from the rice.
Bak Kut Teh is simmered pork rib soup. The meaty part of the pork rib is simmered in herbal broth for several hours before soy sauce is added. The herbal broth has various Chinese herbs such as star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and garlic. The long simmering process results in tender meat with a strong peppery aroma. Bak Kut Teh is eaten with plain white rice and other side dishes but be warned though, Bak Kut Teh has a strong smell and some people may need time getting used to it.
Noodles are a staple food in many Asian countries. They are delicious and versatile because they can be flavored with tasty sauces and be made into different menu. They can be boiled, steamed, fried, and stir-fried. Many Asian countries have their version of stir-fried noodles, but most recipes call for heating minced garlic and onion in hot oil, followed by adding meat, vegetables, noodles of choice, and the sauces. Hokkien mee is Singaporean stir-fried egg noodles with added vegetables cut into strips, prawns, squid, pork and eggs. For taste, sambal chili paste and lime are added into the noodles. Sambal chili paste is made from variety of chilies which are grounded into a paste and mixed with other crushed ingredients like shrimp paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, and garlic.
In Singapore, kaya toast is both a breakfast and a snack. Kaya, or “coconut jam” resembles a creamy custard that you can spread on toast and it is made from coconut milk, sugar, pandan leaves, and eggs. Kaya toast is spread with this coconut jam and sometimes the toast may be dipped in soft-boiled egg and sprinkled with icing. Kaya toast is usually eaten with coffee or tea and it makes a great snack especially when your body is craving something sweet and filling.
Curry puff is a popular finger food in Southeast Asia. In Singapore, curry puff is called epok-epok, which is actually a Malay name for this food. Curry puff is made of fried crescent-shaped pastry shell that is stuffed with fillings. The fillings inside the pastry are usually small pieces of cooked potatoes, diced onions, cubed chicken, hard boiled eggs, carrots, pepper, and curry powder. There is also a healthier version of curry puff in which it is baked instead of fried and the filling may omit chicken to make it vegetarian.
There are variety of curries in Singapore, many of which have been derived from Indian culinary traditions. Curries have a rich flavor and they contain a lot of spices and herbs which makes a great combination when eaten with blander tasting side dishes like rice and naan (Indian flatbread). One of the famous curries in Singapore is the fish head curry made by stewing the head of the red snapper fish with eggplants and okra in a South Indian-style curry. Chicken curry is also a popular dish and served in many restaurants in Singapore . They usually consist of chicken, potatoes, coconut milk, and lots of herbs and spices. Curries in general, contain lots of garlic and onion to give that distinguished “curry scent and flavor”.