The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear Singapore is Merlion, the creature with a lion head and a body of a fish. The second thing that comes to my mind is the Singapore Sling, the national drink of Singapore. New York has its Manhattan, Moscow its Mule and Long Island its Iced Tea. Formulated at the turn of the century, the Singapore Sling was initially called the Straits Sling, and was created as a lady’s cocktail, hence its pinkish tone. I have a friend living in Singapore and she had raved about this drink. It consists of gin, cherry liqueur, benedictine, pomegranate juice and pineapple juice from sarawak pineapples, to create the foamy top. This classic cocktail is expected to give a pleasant high and taste delicious. When I visit Singapore, this is the first thing that I would try. In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to the national identity and is a unifying cultural thread. Unknown to many, Singapore is a food haven with a huge variety of cuisines. The food is primarily influenced by the native Malay with other influences of Chinese, Indonesian, Portugese influenced Eurasian and Indian. Singaporeans take their food very seriously and Singaporean literature declares eating as a national pastime and food, a national obsession. And that is something that I have in common with that country.
The cuisine of Singapore proves to be a significant cultural attraction.This is because Singaporean hawker stalls include a huge variety of cuisines, ranging from Malay food, to Thai, Indian, Western, Korean, Japanese and even Vietnamese food. These hawker centres are abundant and cheap, hence encouraging a large consumer base. Singaporean cuisine has been promoted as an attraction for tourists by the Singapore Tourism Board. The government even organizes the Singapore Food Festival every July to celebrate Singapore's cuisine. There is plenty to eat in the food-obsessed Singapore and I cannot wait to visit and indulge in them. Since I'm a true lover of food I have read about the cuisines of different countries. Singapore's cuisine has intrigued me the most thanks to their obsession with food and the abundant variety of it. When a country is so proud of their food, it must be worth it, right?
I have a list of food items that I'm dying to try and I want to make sure I have it all. Yes, this is a part of my bucket list as well. I'm a hard core non-vegetarian and I know that Singapore would be a foodie's paradise for me. Having said that, I would want to try out the vegetarian dish called Rojak as well. This is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The term "rojak" is Malay for mixture. The vegetables and fruits are tossed in a spicy fermented prawn paste sauce and a generous sprinkle of finely chopped roasted peanuts. The peanut lover in me has her eyes set on this one. The bak chor mee sua commonly known as bak chor mee or minced meat noodles is as tempting as it sounds. This simple noodle dish is often served with with mee pok or flat yellow noodles which soak up the fragrant mix of chilli and vinegar better, and bring a pleasant bite to, well, every bite.
The fried carrot cake is another surprise specialty here. I say surprise because you expect a cake to be sweet and served as a dessert. And when carrots are involved, you obviously expect it to be sweet. Made from an old-world recipe that’s been a local favorite for many years, carrot cake is also known as chai tow kueh and actually consists of cubes of steamed rice flour and white radish, fried in egg-like an omelette and garnished with spring onions. Served with sweet black sauce or molasses, it is perfect for those looking for a quick yet satisfying meal. Now that you know it, you realize that there actually are no carrots in the carrot cake. My love for crab is now known far and wide. I sit with a bowl of sauteed crabs and dig in with both hands. This is the closest that I have come to nirvana. Being a crab lover there is no way that I would miss Singapore's sensuous signature, Chilli crab. The tangy sauce is made deliciously fragrant with garlic and rice vinegar, while thickening flour and egg ribbons that are produced by adding beaten eggs towards the end of the cooking process are added to give the chilli crab dish the fluffy texture it’s known for. This is apparently the dish that celebrities ask for when they arrive here.
The best way to go over the moon here is by having some of the delicious and beautiful mooncakes. Mooncakes are usually round or square shaped, and are made up of a thin skin covering a sweet dense filling, sometimes containing salted egg yolks. The original filling for mooncakes is said to be lotus seed paste, but fillings like red bean paste and yam paste are also widespread. Modern varieties of mooncakes have also popped up in recent years, including flavors such as durian, ice-cream, bird’s nest, chocolate, green tea, cream cheese, chempedek and more.These look so pretty that you would think twice before eating them. These are mostly eaten during the mid-autumn festival which is also referred to as the mooncake festival.
In a country with so many stunning culinary gems, you wouldn't know which would be the most popular one. But one dish stands out above all the others which is Singapore's favorite hawker dish, chicken rice. The recipe for Hainanese Chicken Rice is adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in southern China. The dish is simple with bite-sized pieces of steamed or blanched white chicken, fragrant rice often cooked in chicken broth with pandan leaves, light or dark soy sauce, and a delicious ground chilli and ginger paste. This is a complete meal in itself and this is Singapore's choice for comfort food. And exactly why this is also my favorite Singapore food. The foodie me is salivating as I write this.
Singapore was only known as a tourist destination until now with very little spoken about its food. But on digging deeper you notice that what a treasure you have unveiled. I have tried all these foods at the Singaporean restaurant in Bangalore. But nothing can beat the pleasure of having authentic Singapore food in well, Singapore. I cannot wait to plan my trip to Singapore. Nothing else would be on my agenda except the food!