On its website, Singapore’s Tourism Board boldly claims that the country has more dishes than you can eat in a lifetime. While there may be some truth to that, an important question arises: where do you even start?
From humble hawker centres to modern Chinese restaurants, Singapore has something to offer for almost every taste and preference. Below is a list of 5 Singaporean dishes to begin your gastronomic journey.
Starting off with this simple Singaporean staple, Satay traces its origins back to the Chinese, Malay and Indian-Muslim roadside vendor, affectionately called Satay man.
Satay is basically a grilled meat skewer (chicken, beef, mutton and sometimes pork) that is dipped in a variety of flavorful sauces. A common variation is a sauce made from roasted peanuts, coconut milk and spices.
While this dish may conjure up an image of the quintessential street food dining experience, you can actually find this dish in a variety of food stalls and restaurants.
A warm bowl of Laksa can sufficiently fill you up and ease your nerves. This coconut milk-based noodle soup is served hot and spicy.
While there are various versions, the Katong Laksa is considered as the more popular one. The broth is accompanied by dried shrimp, cockles, prawns and fishcake. The noodles are made of short but thick vermicelli.
For a heavier but equally savoury meal, Nasi Lemak might be just your thing. In English, its name translates to “rich rice” and it does live up to its name.
The aroma and flavour of coconut milk and pandan leaves permeate the rice. The entourage for this centre piece: deep-fried fish, local anchovies, peanuts, eggs, slices of cucumber, topped off with grilled fish and spicy chilli paste.
Singapore’s diverse communities will have their own unique version of this famous dish. A good way to distinguish is by observing the side dishes accompanying the rice.
Fried Kway Teow
For a hearty serving of stir-fried noodles, you can’t go wrong with Fried Kway Teow.
A mix of flat rice and yellow wheat noodles is stir-fried on a wok in high heat, infused with lard (potentially unappealing for health buffs). To concoct a potent explosion of flavour, the chef will toss in soy sauce, garlic, chilli, egg, fishcake, beansprouts, fresh prawns and blood cockles.
Upon serving, you can opt to have lime squeezed over the noodles and a sprinkle of sour-spicy chilli sauce for good measure.
According to local stories, Chilli Crab began as a pushcart dish in 1956 and it was first created by a couple that wanted to experiment with various ways of cooking crabs. As with most of the food mentioned in this article, Chilli Crab also has different prep styles.
The highlight of the heavenly dish is a sauce mixture of tomatoes, chilli paste, and beaten eggs. The crab meat and shells soak up all this luxuriously sweet and spicy flavour.
Chilli Crab is often eaten with steam buns (mantou) that you can use to savor every last bit of that rich sauce.
Feeling hungry yet?
There’s more where these dishes came from. You’ll find even more food and cooking styles as you explore Singapore’s vibrant food scene.