Singapore cuisine is as ethnically diverse as its peoples, a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Western influences. A visit to one of the hawker centres or shopping mall food courts will be as eye-opening as gastronomically gratifying.
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1, Hainanese Chicken Rice
Steamed chicken served with rice cooked in chicken stock. This all-time favourite dish makes for a quick, fulfilling lunch. The quality of chicken stock is crucial to this dish, and you can tell by the steamed rice oozing with flavour and a fragrant aroma. Pour some dipping sauce over the chicken and give it a go.
2, Chilli Crab
Hard-shell crabs cooked in semi-thick gravy with a tomato chili base. The steamed crabs are partially cracked, then lightly stir-fried in a paste comprising of chili sauce, ketchup and eggs. Despite its name, chili crab is not all that spicy. Bread is normally ordered to soak up the gravy, so dig in with both hands!
Rice noodles in spicy coconut curry soup with shrimp, fish cakes, egg and chicken meat – a cross between Chinese and Malay cuisine. Laksa also has many variants, but the one in Singapore is katong laksa, with cut-up noodles. Cockles and tofu puffs are sometimes added.
4, Hokkien Prawn Mee
Stir-fried Hokkien noodles with prawns, slices of chicken or pork, squid and fish cake, seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar and chili. Each serving comes with sambal sauce and a lime wedge, to tone down the oily taste. The Singapore version uses thick, flat egg noodles.
5, Barbecued Stingray
Originating in the streets, barbecued stingray has become a popular seafood dish served at hawker stalls. The classic version features stingray meat slated in thick sambal sauce – a spicy condiment with diced tomatoes, chilies and shrimp paste as base ingredients – then wrapped in banana leaf to be cooked slowly on a grill.