5 Local Dishes That Singaporeans Regard As Their National Food
There is no telling when Singaporeans will get over their obsession with food. Probably never. With the various backgrounds that make up the Singaporean community, food is bound to be an integral part of the culture. 54 years after achieving self-rule, we count our popular local dishes as part of our identity as Singaporeans.
Apart from filling our tummies and heart day after day, our national dishes have brought us together as families, friends and fellow Singaporeans during festivities, at family events and national celebrations.
Enough raving about our National Food,let’s tuck into this delicious journey right away!
Are you even a Singaporean if you don’t clap your hands in glee every time someone mentions Chilli Crab? Every Singaporean have their own way of eating this dish and their go-to local place that serves out of the world Chilli Crab.
Fondly known as the national dish of Singapore, the Chilli Crab is cooked with spicy tomato chili sauce. Imagine juicy, succulent stir-fried chunks of crab meat slathered in tangy sauce thickened with ribbons of beaten eggs. The dish is served with mantou (steamed or dipping friend buns) perfect for soaking up the sauce and revelling in its tanginess.
Mostly available in sea food restaurants across Singapore, this dish was invented in a pushcart in 1956. Madam Cher Yan Tian and her husband first sold the dish along Kallang River and the dish marched its way to every Singaporean’s heart to become the national dish.
It is the eyes that many Singaporeans go for when they eat fish head curry. While many may feel uneasy at this sight, there are many who will devour the fish head in mere minutes. Usually eaten with rice, spicy curry cooked with vegetables such as okra and egg plant is made using South Indian spices and is popular across all ethnic groups in Singapore.
Back in the 1940s, a small Indian restaurant owner M.J. Gomez from Kerala blended Indian curry and the fish head to cater to his Chinese customers. As we all know now, it was a big hit and since then the fish head curry has been bubbling away across the island.
What? Why on Earth would you fry a grated carrot? Well, this carrot cake is not your average dessert covered with cream cheese frosting. The fried carrot cake which is a favourite among Singaporeans is made up of eggs, radish and white radish flour cake. There are 2 versions: the black version made using sweet dark soya sauce and white (original).
Brought to Singapore by Teochew immigrants, it was just cubes of rice cakes fried with dark soya sauce. In the 1960s, a Teochew hawker Ng Soik Theng added white radish and created the fried carrot cake we are enjoying today. Lau Goh, another hawker meanwhile is said to have created the white version.
Now, Singaporeans enjoy the Fried Carrot Cake with eggs, oysters and prawns.
For breakfast and for supper, Roti Prata is among the top choices for Singaporeans. Light yet filling, Roti Prata is not just a feast to your tummy, the making of Roti Prata will be a feast to your eyes too. The basic recipe is made using dough flavoured with ghee and served with curries as well as sugar. Other variations include cheese, chocolate, ice cream, durians and banana.
Crispy and yet soft, this dish made its way to Singapore from Punjab and is now a meal for Singaporeans any time of the day. What you shouldn’t miss is the sight of the chef making the Roti Prata. The making involves laborious whirls and twirls, tosses and folds. Kids are usually transfixed at this sight (Sometimes, adults too!).
It looks simple, it tastes simple yet Singaporeans go back to this national dish time and again. Such is the appeal of Hainanese Chicken Rice. Hawker centres sell it and fine-dining restaurants serve it making it a favourite among all Singaporeans irrespective of race and background.
This simple dish consists of sliced chicken strips served with fragrant rice which is cooked with chicken stock, ginger, garlic, and pandan leaves. The condiments are sweet dark soy sauce, spicy chilli and chopped ginger. The end product is simple, flavourful and irresistible.
Adapted from early Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island, the chicken rice that we eat today have been added with a Singaporean twist. In 2017, a hawker stall selling chicken rice in Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre gained worldwide fame when it earned a Michelin star, putting the humble chicken rice on the global gourmet food map.
So, what are you waiting for? Go eat and celebrate the cultural wonder that is Singapore!
Pic Source: Singapore Tourism Board