Singapore’s Street Food

singapore street food

The street food culture in Singapore dates back to the 1800s.  But in recent times, many of the street food stalls have been moved to Hawker centers, and the culture seems to be on a decline.

Today, the country has more than 14,000 licensed hawkers across 110 hawker centers and markets, with about 6000 cooked food stalls, offering tasty meals at affordable prices.  Hawkers enjoy government subsidies, and pay an average of $200 a month, against an average of $1,250 for other stallholders.  But this still additional cost and often times unaffordable with raw material costs and low retail price of the food.

There are other reasons why the culture seems to be fading. The younger generation does not wish to takeover the wok of their hawker parents, and the job is not rewarding enough anymore. High government rents are one reason of increasing fixed and maintenance costs.  Moreover, the space for hawker centers is not enough, and it is difficult to accommodate new entrants.  Another reason is that most people in these families are now getting educated and seek better opportunities.

But one may still be able to enjoy the delights in food courts, which appear to be extensions of hawker centers.  In addition, the food offered, caters to people coming from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures.  So although, it may seem that the street food culture is on the decline, if you are looking for food, you will be able to authentic street food in hawker centers or food courts, but if you are looking for street food experience, it does not exit any more.

Sources: TheSunshineSon & Straitstimes.com 

 

 

Healthy eating for Singaporean Seniors

singapore health food

Seniors are believed to lose appetite in their aging years, and most seniors in Singapore are reported to be malnutritioned. Good nutrition should be of primary concern in advancing years: it pertains less medical and health insurance costs, and a longer, happier life.  

This does not suggest that seniors should start eating more, but a balanced, nutrient-nutrient filled diet is necessary for an active older life. Metabolic rate decreases with age, and does the ability to digest large portions and amounts of food. So it’s not only how much is eaten, but what. Here are some tips on choosing a healthy diet:

  • Choose brown rice and wholemeal bread for daily energy. This group of food is a rich source of nutrients, like B vitamins, folic acid, iron and copper, as well as high fiber. It prevents cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Four to six servings per day are recommended.

  • Two servings of fruit and vegetables are recommended for good health. More than 60 per cent of Singaporeans aged 50 to 59 years do not meet the dietary recommendations for fruit.  It goes even higher, 70 per cent, in the case of vegetables. The lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet is worrisome, because it reduces intake of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Apples and pears are recommended, along with pineapple, watermelon or papaya.  For vegetables, try to mix meat meals with greens, taking one portion of meat, and two portions of vegetables.

  • Meat, beans, fish and dairy should be taken three times a day. Surveys have shown that 40 per cent of Singaporeans aged 50 to 59 years and 50 per cent of Singaporeans aged 60 to 69 years are not meeting the dietary guidelines for this food group. Meat and alternatives are also a good source of B vitamins, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and iron. Lean meat is encouraged; vegetarians can go for tofu, beans and legumes

Eating healthy is as important as healthcare.  It is the most important preventive measure to avoid old age diseases and illnesses, and in turn results in less medical expenses. A friendly reminder for our senior readers – this is a good time to enroll for a Medicare plan and take full advantage of it. And who likes to be ill any way!

Sources: healthxchange.com.sg

 

A glance into Singapore Food history

Singapore Food History

In the famous book, Singapore Food by Wendy Hutton, he writes about how immigrants from China, Malaya, India, Indonesia, Europe, America and Middle East rushed to Singapore when British imperialist Thomas Stamford Raffles sought to convert Singapore into a trading post for the East India Company in 1819.

These immigrants brought with them unique and local cuisines.  These cuisines had a huge influence on the local food, and can still be found in some of the most famous Singaporean delights.  This is one on the reasons people from various cultures find Singaporean cuisine appealing.  The country is known for its multicultural dishes, which have also made their way into fine dining throughout the world.  Locally, of course, hawker stalls, are famous for selling specialties, which can only be found in a posh restaurants outside the country.

Traditional Singapore food is more likely to have Asian influence than from other parts of the world.  Hence, as is famous around Asian, this food is rich in ethnic and rare spices only found in Asia.  Herbs are important ingredients for most cuisines, and almost all the food cooked and eaten is organic.  So if your stomach can take a little bit of spice, this food is actually good for health.

The country cherishes its food, and serves it with the same love it makes it.  With a mix of traditional, adapted and modern cuisines, Singapore is today a famous destination for culinary experts and food lovers.  And come to think of it, as the Singaporeans will tell you, why else would you live than to eat!

Sources: bbc.com

 

Tau Saun (Mung Beans Dessert)

how to cook tau suan mung bean dessert

Tau Saun is a Singaporean local favorite, having its origins in China.  It is made of split mung beans.  The Hawker style is really famous, but you can try it at home with the recipe below:

Ingredients:

  • 500 g sugar
  • 30 g water chestnut flour 
  • 20 g sweet potato flour
  • few pandan leaves, discard roots and knotted
  • a stick of you tiao (you char kueh)
  • 250 g drained pre-soaked mung beans 
  • 1.5 litres water 

Method:

  1. Heat the pot, add in 1.5 litres of water and pandan leaves. Let it boil for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a meantime, dry fry mung beans in a wok, add 2-3 dsp of sugar to caramelize and brown them a little. This will firm up the beans, when you soften and boil them later in the syrup.
  3. Remove the pandan leaves from the pot, transfer the beans over and boil for another 5-7 minutes.
  4. After 5-7 minutes, add sugar according to your taste. Stir.
  5. Mix the water chestnut and potato flour together. Add some water to make starch.
  6. Lower the heat and thicken the Tau Suan syrup by slowly adding the starch to the pot (to your desired thickness), and stir gently. Turn off heat.
  7. To serve, fill dessert bowl with the Tau Suan and top some chopped you tiao over it. Serve hot.

Recipe Courtesy: Singapore Local Favorites

 

Time for Dessert – The Special Jenny Bakery Butter Cookies at Home

butter cookies

Image: Maureen Ow

Jenny Bakery is one of the most famous bakeries in Singapore. There are queues from right in the morning despite the heat and haze outside. Originally from Hong Kong, the bakery is famous for its butter and coffee cookies. They can be used as desserts, a side with tea, or given as presents. They are wonderful for every occasion.

Since it is ridiculous to be standing in line for so long, we have brought an easy to follow recipe that you can try at home. We can guarantee that they will melt in your mouth just like your favorite Jenny Bakery Butter Cookies.

Ingredients
200g butter
50g icing sugar, sifted
50g plain flour
100g wheat flour (or top flour)
50g corn flour

Instructions
Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.
Cream butter and gradually add in the sifted icing sugar and beat till pale and fluffy.
Sift plain flour, wheat flour and corn flour twice.
Fold the ingredients together with a spatula until it is well incorporated. Do not beat or over mix as you will not achieve the airy texture.
Put the dough into a piping bag with star dip nozzle.
Pipe the cookies onto the baking tray lined with baking paper. Leave 1 cm in between cookies as they will expand a little during baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies turn light golden brown.
Leave it to cool on a cooling rack before storing them in air-tight container.

Recipe Courtesy: Miss Tam Chiak

Sources:
http://www.misstamchiak.com/recipe-ultimate-butter-cookies/

Fried Mee Tai Mak

13014502285_2486515dac_c

Mee Tai Mak is made from round, chewy rice noodles. They are pretty famous in Singapore. You can get them ready to eat in the streets, or buy your own in the super market to make at home. They are really easy to make. Here is a recipe to try them out:

Ingredients

  • 1 pkt Mee tae Mak
  • Crabstick
  • Roast pork
  • Fishcake
  • Cabbage
  • 4 slightly beaten eggs

Sauce

  • 4 rice bowls of water
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 5 tbsp dark sweet sauce
  • 1/2 light soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Pepper

 

Method

  1. Soak the mee tae bak in boiled (not boiling) water for abt 10 mins and drain.
  2. Pan fry the roast pork with some oil followed by the rest of the ingredients (exclude mee tae mak). Stir fry for about 5 mins. Scoop and leave aside.
  3. Pour in the sauce, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins.
  4. Add in the drained mee tae mak.
  5. Mix to make sure they are all immersed in the sauce.
  6. Cover and let simmer for 10 mins.
  7. Add in all the ingredients, mix well, cover and simmer another 5 mins, add in a little water if dry up.
  8. Add in beaten eggs and gently stir.
  9. Cover and simmer another 5 mins.

And its done!

Recipe courtesy: Singapore Home Cooks

 

Xiao Long Bao (Chinese Soup Dumplings)

xiao long bao

Xiao Long Bao (XLB) is one of those cuisines that you must try in your lifetime. It is a traditional favorite with a Chinese influence. It is a type of steamed bun (baozi) from the Jiangnan region of China, especially associated with Shanghai and Wuxi. It is prepared in traditional bamboo steaming baskets called Xiao Long, and often referred to as a kind of dumpling. They can be often confused with Tang Bao, larger varieties of soup dumplings, but are quite different.

Xiao Long bao

Image: steamykitchen.com

 

Xiao Long Bao

Image: steamykitchen.com

Traditionally, XLB are dumplings with gelatanized broth made from chicken, pork or cured ham. When the dumplings are steamed, the broth melts! Mouth watering right? Here is a simple recipe you can follow to make this delicious delight.

Recipe:

YIELD: Serves 6 to 8
ACTIVE TIME:1 hour
TOTAL TIME:12 hours

INGREDIENTS

For the Broth:
3 pounds chicken backs or wings
1/2 pound chinese ham or slab bacon
6 scallions, white separated, greens roughly chopped
1-inch knob ginger
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
Kosher salt

For the Filling:
1/3 pound ground pork
1/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon XiaoShing wine
2 teaspoons sugar

For the Dough:
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
Napa cabbage leaves

DIRECTIONS
Combine chicken bones, ham, scallion whites, half of scallion greens, ginger, and white peppercorns in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove to a simmer, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Strain broth, season to taste with salt, cover, and refrigerate until set into a semi-firm jelly, at least 8 hours.
Meanwhile, combine pork, shrimp, soy sauce, wine, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining scallion greens in a food processor. Process until a fine paste is formed, about 12 to 15 one-second pulses. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Meanwhile, place flour in bowl of food processor. With machine running, slowly drizzle in water until cohesive dough is formed (you probably won’t need all the water). All dough to ride around processor for 30 seconds. Form into a ball using floured hands and transfer to a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

When broth is gelled, transfer filling mixture to a bowl along with 1 cup of jellied broth (save the rest for another use). Beat or whisk it in until homogenous. Keep filling well chilled.
Divide dough into 4 sections, and each section into 10 small tablespoon-sized balls, making 40 balls total. On a well-floured work surface, roll each ball into a round 3 1/2- to 4-inches in diameter. Stack wrappers and keep under plastic until all of them are rolled out.

To form dumplings, place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a wet fingertip or a pastry brush. Pleat edges of the wrapper repeatedly, pinching the edge closed after each pleat until the entire dumpling is sealed. in a cinched purse shape. Pinch and twist top to seal. Transfer sealed dumplings to a lightly floured wooden or parchment-lined board.

Place a bamboo steamer over a wok with 2 inches of water. Place over medium high heat until simmering. line steamer with napa cabbage leaves and place dumplings directly on leaves. Steam until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, being careful not to break them.

Recipe Courtesy: Serious Eats

Hainanese Chicken Rice

hainanese chicken rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a Singaporean delight adapted from early Chinese immigrants, and originates from the Hainan province in southern China.  It is considered a national dish in Singapore.

Catherine Ling of CNN describes Hainanese chicken rice as one of the “40 Singapore foods we can’t live without”.  It also listed at number 45 on World’s 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011.

In Singapore, this rice can be found in many Chinese coffee shops, restaurants, with street hawkers, and also in main dine in restaurants.

Here is a simple recipe to make it at home:

Yield

Makes 6 servings

Active Time

35 min

Total Time

2 hrs

Ingredients

For chicken and broth

  • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) chicken
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 4 qt water
  • 4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices fresh ginger, smashed

For chile sauce

  • 6 (3- to 3 1/2-inch-long) fresh hot red Thai chiles or serrano chiles, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice

For rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1 bunch or 1 (4-oz) bag watercress, coarse stems discarded

Special equipment: a mini food processor and a U-shaped vegetable peeler

1 U-shaped vegetable peeler

Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves or sprigs

Preparation

Prepare chicken and broth:

Remove fat from cavity of chicken and reserve for rice. Rub chicken inside and out with 1 teaspoon salt.

Bring water with remaining 2 teaspoons salt and ginger to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot wide enough to hold chicken.  Put chicken, breast down, in water and return to a boil, covered.  Simmer chicken, partially covered, 20 minutes and remove from heat.  Let chicken stand in hot broth, covered and undisturbed, until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Letting broth drain from chicken cavity into pot, transfer chicken to a large bowl of ice and cold water and reserve broth for rice and soup.  Cool chicken completely, turning once.  Drain chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Cut into serving pieces.

Make chile sauce while chicken is cooking:

Pulse chile-sauce ingredients to a coarse paste in mini food processor.

Make rice:

Cook reserved chicken fat in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until rendered, then discard solids.  Add vegetable oil if necessary to make 2 tablespoons fat.

Wash rice under cold running water until water runs clear and drain well.

Cook shallots in fat over moderate heat, stirring, until browned.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring gently, 1 minute.

Add 3 cups reserved broth and bring to a boil.  Boil until liquid on surface is evaporated and small bubbles appear from holes in rice, 3 to 4 minutes.

Cover and cook over very low heat until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes more.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered and undisturbed, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and cover.

Assemble dishes:

Shave as many long ribbons as possible from cucumber with a U-shaped vegetable peeler and chill ribbons in another bowl of ice and cold water 15 minutes. Drain well.

Stir together soy sauce and sesame oil.

Bring 6 cups reserved broth and watercress to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and simmer 1 minute.  Remove pan from heat and let stand until watercress is a shade darker, about 3 minutes.

Drizzle soy-sesame mixture over chicken.  Serve chicken with cucumber ribbons and individual bowls of rice, soup, and chile sauce.

Here’s also a video showing how to make Hainanese Chicken Rice:

 

Beef Kway Teow

Beef Kway Teow, or Beef Kwetiau is a famous Singaporean cuisine influenced by the Chinese culture. It consists of stir-fried flat rice noodles, topped with slices of beef, served dry or with soup.

Beef Kway Teow

Source: blogspot.com

 

Although all flat rice noodles stir-fired with beef can be categorized as Beef Kway Teow, there are two main variants:

Singapore:  Traditionally the dish constitutes of beef extract that is added to the stock.  The soup is also enhanced with gula melaka and lengkuas (galangal or blue ginger).  The dry version is however mixed with sesame oil, soya souce, and chilli.  This version usually does not have thick gravy.

Indonesia:  The Kwetiau is popular too. It is available in three variants: Kwetiau Siram Sapi (poured upon), Kwetiau Goreng Sapi (stir fried), and Kwetiau Bun Sapi (a rather moist version).  The Kwetiau Siram Sapi is a Kwetiau noodle poured (Indonesian: siram) with beef in thick flavorful sauce. The Kwetiau Goreng Sapi is a variant of popular stir-fried Kway Teow, but distinctly served with beef. While the Kwetiau Bun Sapi is similar to common fried Kwetiau, it is rather moist and soft due to water addition.

Here is a simple recipe to follow to make this exquisite dish at home:

Ingredients:

  • 300 g lean filet of beef
  • 600 g rice noodles (fresh or dry) or Kway Teow (if dry, blanch them till they are 95% cooked)
  • 100 g Chinese chives (optional)
  • 500 g bean sprouts, with roots and heads removed
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

 

Beef Seasoning:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soya sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:

  1. Slice beef thinly against the grain.
  2. Mix the beef with all the seasoning ingredients except the sesame oil and canola oil.
  3. Leave the beef to marinate for 20 minutes; then add the sesame and canola oil.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a wok; stir fry the chives and bean sprouts till they are slightly limp. Set them aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok, fry the garlic till crispy and golden.
  6. Add rice noodles and stir fry for about 4 minutes till lightly browned.
  7. Set the noodles aside.
  8. Heat remaining oil in wok; add beef, remaining marinade and ginger slices.
  9. Stir fry beef till colour changes.
  10. Add rice noodles and bean sprouts; stir fry till everything is well coated.
  11. Serve hot.

 

Recipe Courtesy: Singapore Local Favourites

 

Fried Carrot Cake

No, this is not your regular dessert. In fact this savory cake has no carrot!  At least not the orange one.

This is one of Singapore’s hawker delicacies. It is locally known as “Chai Tow Kway”.  It is made of radish instead of carrot.  For some reason, back in time, some westerners, confused in translation perhaps, called it carrot cake, and the name stuck.  It is made with white carrot, also known as radish, stir fried with eggs, and flavored with seasonings.  Chilli is added on request to give you an extra kick.

Fried Carrot Cake

Fried Carrot Cake
Source: yoursingapore.com

Two variations can be found: black and white.  The black one is fried with dark soy sauce, while the white one is fried only with beaten eggs to form a crispy crust.

Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home:

Yield: 6 (main course) servings

Cooking Time: 35 min

Total Time: 11 1/2 hr

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound daikon (also called Chinese radish or luo bo)
  • 7 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cups finely ground rice flour (not sweet; an Asian brand such as Erawan)
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or thick soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek or Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce) plus additional for serving
  • 3 scallions, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed sprigs fresh cilantro

Special equipment: a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok with lid

Preparation:

Make and steam cake:

Oil bottom and side of a 9-inch round cake pan.

Peel daikon, then shred in a food processor fitted with medium shredding disk.  Reserve any liquid.

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly.  Pour 3 tablespoons oil down side of wok, then tilt wok to swirl, coating side.  When oil begins to smoke, add daikon with any liquid, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir-fry 3 minutes.  Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and breaking up daikon occasionally, until daikon is very tender, about 15 minutes.

Whisk together rice flour and water in a large bowl until smooth, then stir in daikon (mixture will be lumpy) and pour into cake pan.

Set a steamer rack inside cleaned wok and fill wok with water (not above steamer rack), then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to moderate and steam cake in pan on rack, covered, 1 hour (replenish water as necessary).  Wearing oven mitts, transfer pan to a cooling rack and cool about 1 1/2 hours.  Wrap pan tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours.

Make stir-fry:

Run a knife along edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a cutting board, rapping on bottom of pan until cake is released.  Blot with paper towels.  Cut cake into 1/2-inch cubes.

Beat together eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.

Heat dried wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly.  Pour remaining 4 tablespoons oil down side of wok, then tilt wok to swirl, coating side.  When oil begins to smoke, add cake cubes, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir-fry, letting cake rest on bottom and sides of wok about 10 seconds between stirs, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.  (Cubes will soften and may stick to wok. Scrape brown bits from bottom of wok and continue stir-frying.)  Add eggs to wok and stir-fry until eggs are just set, about 1 minute.  Stir in ketjap manis, sambal oelek, and scallions, then transfer to a serving dish and scatter cilantro on top.  Serve with additional sambal oelek.

Recipe courtesy: Epicurious