10 Foods that Make Us Feel Singaporean

One of the great things I love about travelling is trying out interesting and delicious food from all around the world. Yet, whenever I spend more than a week in a foreign land, I would long for the familiar taste of home. To celebrate SG50 (Singapore’s 50th birthday), I dedicate this piece to talk about the food of my home country.

Singapore is a country that boasts multicultural flavours. Head to any of our hawker centers and you’ll get what I’m trying to say. Be it Malay, Chinese or Indian, you can get almost anything. To me, the true Singaporean flavour lies in our hawker stalls in the neighbourhoods. If that’s what you’re after, time to hunt for these classic local foods!

1. Bar Chor Mee

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Where: Ming Fa Fishball, 328 Bedok Road

Bar Chor Mee is a typical Singaporean dish that can be found almost anywhere. This dish uses liver, minced pork, sliced pork, meatballs, fishcakes, noodles, vinegar, chilli and stewed mushrooms. In some places, they top it off with sesame oil which enhances its flavour tremendously.

2. Tau Huey

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Where: Rochor Original Beancurd, 2 Short Street, S(188211)

Tau Huey is made from soybean, and is most commonly known as soy pudding. There are many variations of this dessert in other Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. In Singapore, Tau Huey is served with sugar syrup, pandan sugar syrup or soybean milk. The testament to a good Tau Huey is its soft texture. The easier it crumbles in your mouth, the better.

3. Laksa

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Where: 328 Katong Laksa, 53 East Coast Road, Singapore, S(428771)

This Peranakan dish consists of rice vermicelli are cooked in curry with sliced fishcakes, prawns, beancurd and cockles. The term Katong Laksa was coined due to the popularity of a Laksa stall in the Katong area in Singapore. The noodles in a Katong Laksa is cut in smaller pieces, and can be eaten solely with a spoon.

4. Yong Tau Foo

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Where: Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, #01-21, S(208877)

For locals, Yong Tau Foo is a common dish in hawker centres and one which boasts a healthy range of vegetables. For others, the Yong Tau Foo stall is characterised by the array of vegetables and tofu stuffed with fish paste or minced meat, placed around the storefront. You pick whatever you want and place it in a bowl, and you can choose to have it dry or in a soup. The best Yong Tau Foo stalls make their fish paste from scratch.

5. Soft Boiled Eggs with Toasts

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Where: Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, #02-43, S(208877)

There’s nothing quite like a Singaporean breakfast than having soft boiled eggs with toasts at one of the coffeeshops. Eggs are boiled until half cooked with the yolk still runny, and the bread is toasted to perfection which results in a slightly charred appearance. You can choose to have the toasts with kaya, peanut butter or just simply butter. The practice is to dip the toasts in the runny eggs, which is usually seasoned with a little pepper and soy sauce.

6. Kway Chap

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Where: Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, #01-21, S(208877)

Asians love braising their food and Singaporeans are no exception. Kway Chap is a Teochew dish that involves braising pork, pig’s offal, eggs and beancurd in soy sauce and spices for several hours. This gives the meat a brown colour and a strong flavour. The carbs to accompany this dish is large rice sheets soaked in a soy sauce broth. For those who don’t fancy pig’s offal, stall owners are usually willing to exclude it from the meal on request and replacing it with more pork meat.

7. Chwee Kueh

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Where: Jian Bo Shui Kueh, Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-05, S(168898)

Chwee Kueh is characterised by the shallow saucer-like shape of the mold used in making this dish. Rice flour is first mixed with water, and afterwards steamed, to make these simple rice cakes. The plain rice cakes, topped with a generous helping of chopped preserved radish and sambal chilli, makes it a savoury breakfast meal.

8. Muah Chee

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Where: Block 69, Bedok South, #01-468

Do you remember the night markets in the 90s? In those days, there were plenty of bustling night markets in the neighbourhood areas. I remember being drawn to the smells of the food stalls. Muah Chee is a common street food found in these night markets. The sticky glutinous balls covered with sweet crushed peanuts serve as a delicious after meal snack. It can be quite hard to find this snack nowadays with the decline of night markets here. However, there are still a handful of neighbourhood stores that continue the tradition of making this sweet snack. Alternatively, drop by some of the shopping centres and you might just find a Muah Chee store lurking in the corner.

9. Cereal Prawns

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Where: Any seafood restaurant

As its name suggests, the prawns are fried with cereal to create this restaurant favourite. The cereal used is more commonly known as oats. Curry leaves and chilli are also used in making this dish to give it an extra kick. This odd combination produces an unexpected delicious flavour that’s both sweet and savoury. You will see people not only busy shelling the prawns, but also scooping up the oats to get a mouthful of its buttery crunchy taste. Many have fallen in love with Cereal Prawns for its unique flavour.

10. Fish Soup

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Where: Seng Kee Fish Soup, Bukit Merah Central, Block 163, #02-56

Fish soup is a classic favourite amongst Singaporeans, and is often served with thick rice noodles though other pairings are available such as with rice or fried noodles. The soup is slow cooked with fish to produce a thick broth. Most stalls provide an option to add milk in the soup, but the good ones are able to achieve a milky consistency to the soup without the need of milk.

What is the Singaporean dish that makes you think of home?

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