top recipes food from Singapore

Roasted coconut sambal

A terribly addictive accompaniment, this sambal is served as part of an Indonesian rijsttafel or “rice table,” and also a Nonya long table meal.


  • 3 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only
  • 4 green finger-length chillies
  • 6 Asian shallots 200 g (2 cups) freshly grated coconut
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


1. Finely slice the lemongrass, chillies and shallots. Mix well with the grated coconut and salt.
2. Heat a wok over low flame and dry-fry, stirring constantly, until the coconut and the other ingredients turn an even golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch the mixture diligently to prevent scorching. Cool completely and store airtight in the fridge; consume within a week.

Chilli, soybean and lime dip

This salty and savoury dip goes great with steamed and boiled seafood.


  • 3 tablespoons salted fermented soybean paste (tau cheo) or miso
  • 2 red finger-length chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 5 Asian shallots, finely sliced
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice or
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar


1. Spoon the soybean paste into a small bowl. Drain and discard most of the salty preserving liquid. Roughly mash the beans and stir in the chillies and shallots, followed by the lime juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves.

Sui gow prawn and crab dumpling soup

The dumplings in this soup, a more luxurious version of the plebeian wonton, are served as a snack or side dish by hawkers. Sui gow skins are made from wheat dough, and come in a round shape. They are available in Asian markets or supermarkets.


  • 5 cups (1.2 litres) water
  • 2 tablespoons ikan bilis (dried baby anchovies)
  • 200 g (1 cup) ground pork
  • 125 g (½ cup) ground prawn meat
  • 150 g (1½ cups) cooked crabmeat
  • 2 stalks green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • 20–25 sui gow skins
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Chopped green onions (scallions), to garnish


1. Bring the water to a boil, add the ikan bilis and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the ikan bilis.
2. Mix the ground pork, prawn, crabmeat, green onions, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, pepper and half the sesame oil together until well blended. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture on a sui gow skin, fold over to make a half-moon shape and seal the edges with a little of the cornstarch mixture. Repeat with the remaining skins and filling.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Slip in half the sui gow and simmer for 5 –6 minutes until they are cooked and float up. Drain and transfer to the stock pot. Repeat with the remaining sui gow.
4. Add the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil to the stock and reheat until just about to boil. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

Bak kut teh pork rib soup

This robust soup is traditionally eaten as a breakfast dish with yew char kway (Chinese fried dough crullers) and a pot of Chinese tea on the side. Bak kut teh spice mixes are available in many Chinese grocery stores or supermarkets.


  • 600 g (11/3 lbs) pork ribs, cut into pieces
  • 150 g (5 oz) lean pork
  • 1 sachet bak kut teh spices
  • 10 cups (2.5 litres) water or pork stock
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish
  • Yew char kway (Chinese crullers)


1. Combine the pork ribs, lean pork, bak kut teh spices sachet and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
2. Add the soy sauce, salt and sugar. Simmer for another 45 minutes, or until the pork is fork tender.
3. Remove the lean pork and shred into small pieces. Strain the stock into individual serving bowls and divide the lean pork and pork ribs between them. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve with the yew char kway on the side.


Every hawker stall puts a different spin on this dish. Some season it with dark soy sauce, others with regular soy sauce; use whichever you prefer. You can make your own spice bag with 1 cinnamon stick, 4–5 cloves, 1 pod star anise, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns and 1 tablespoon Chinese wolfberries (kei chee). Tie these in a piece of muslin cloth

Duck and salted vegetable soup

An unlikely blend of flavours, you might think, but the tangy, meaty, aromatic result is immensely comforting on a cold day.


  • 1 duck, cleaned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 200 g (7 oz) pork leg, cut into chunks
  • 6½ cups (1.5 litres) water
  • 400 g (14 oz) salted pickled mustard vegetable (kiam chye)
  • 4 preserved sour plums
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 green finger-length chillies
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac


1. Trim off any excess fat from the duck and place in a large pot with the pork leg and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1¼ hours or until the meat are very tender.
2. Slice the salted vegetable into large pieces and add to the pot with the sour plums, tomatoes and sugar. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes more. Skim off the oil from the surface of the soup.
3. Break the green chillies into small pieces with your fingers and stir them into the soup with the brandy. Serve hot with rice.
Serves 4–6 / Cooking time: 1½ hours / Preparation time: 10 mins

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