Singapore is one of my favourite cities to eat in… and I’ve eaten in a LOT of cities! The diversity of the food is something that really appeals to me, as well as how dynamic and ever-changing it is, while still remaining true to its traditional and historical roots. As a special treat, I’ve whipped up a few of the Singaporean cuisine classics for you to try (have you seen my chilli crab challenge yet?), so you can bring a taste of the Lion City home, wherever you are in the world.
My Singapore recipes include two of my favourites: fish head curry, and then a delicate sweet treat for afters: kueh dadar. You might not have heard of or tasted either of them, but trust me when I say you definitely want these iconic items on your radar.
I’m also trying my hand at zi char recipes. Zi char (which means to “cook and fry”) is a homely, comforting style of local dishes that are shared communally between loved ones. It’s something that sums up the culture of Singapore a lot to me – when you head to a hawker centre with your loved ones, you order an array of delicious dishes, and then everyone tucks in and catches up. With that in mind, I’ve put together a zi char banquet menu that is perfect for sharing.
Zi char banquet menu
Invented in Singapore zi char restaurants, this seafood dish is rather special. Succulent king prawns get a nostalgic coating in and the result is rich, sweet, savoury and crunchy. The cereal used for this dish is called Nestum, which is a much-loved Malaysian brand that has a light, flaky texture. Seek it out at Asian grocers or online.
Sambal sotong, or squid sambal, is a popular Malaysian dish that’s spicy, sweet and delicious, using the chilli-based condiment as its hero. It deserves the freshest squid you can find for the most tender result. It’s a fantastic seafood recipe that’s a great addition to your zi char banquet.
Egg foo young is essentially a flavoured and filled Chinese omelette, smothered in a delicious gravy-like sauce. It’s light, fluffy and comes together very quickly, so is perfect for rustling up when you don’t feel like flexing your cooking muscles too much.
Restaurant-style Asian greens are so easy to achieve at home and they take next to no time to prepare and cook. Slice any greens you can find in store – bok choy, gai larn (Chinese broccoli), broccolini, choy sum – then stir-fry with garlic and oyster sauce in a wok.
Classic Singaporean dishes
Singapore is rich in culture and history, and fish head curry is a great example of this. Apparently, the dish came about when an Indian immigrant, Mr Gomez, wanted to make a typical South Indian fish curry that also appealed to his Chinese customers, as he knew that fish head was a favourite in the Chinese culture. And so fish head curry was born: a unique blend of cuisines and flavours… and one of my favourite recipes to come out of Singapore!
Kueh Dadar are commonly eaten in Singapore and across Southeast Asia as a popular sweet treat snack or dessert. Kueh (also spelled ‘kuih’) is a broad Malay term meaning a snack, or bite-sized dessert. They can be sweet or savoury and the repertoire of them in Singapore is vast, many associated with the Nonya (or Straits Chinese/Peranakan) communities. Generally kueh can be complicated to make but not these; you just make the simplest filling, cook a thin batter (exactly as you would a crepe), fill, then roll.
These vibrant coloured rolled-up crepes get their colour from pandan leaves, and are filled with a sticky coconut filling that’s sweetened by Malaysian palm sugar.
Prefer your recipes in video form? I’ve got you! Watch below as I tackle the delicious duo, otherwise read on…
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