Singapore Food Dictionary


Constantly on the lookout for the best places to indulge ourselves in our favourite foods, Singaporeans always have a diverse range of recommendations for every kind of cuisine. Must-try Singaporean foods include Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab, Katong Laksa and the Singapore Sling. Other signature dishes in Singapore include Nasi Lemak, Bak Kut Teh, Kaya Toast and Roti Prata. Spend some time indulging your stomach in Singaporean classics during your stay here. Browse through the list we have compiled in our Food Dictionary and start your culinary adventure here!


Ah Balling (Glutinous Rice Balls)
Pronunciation:ah-bo-ling
Description:Basically, a Chinese (Teochew) dessert consisting of glutinous rice balls filled with either red bean, peanut or sesame paste.
Trivia:Usually served in a sweet broth, it is a dessert best eaten hot.
Ang Ku Kway
Pronunciation:ahng-koo-kuey
Description:A type of sticky, usually red, Chinese cake that looks like a tortoise shell, its filling can be green bean or peanut paste. The skin is made from glutinous rice flour, while the peanuts for the peanut filling is roasted and coarsely grounded.
Trivia:A popular snack for all occasions, it can exist in many different colours - red, green, yellow and even purple. It is shaped like the shell of a tortoise because it is believed that eating these long-living creatures would bring longevity to the person eating it.
Ayam Buah Keluak
Pronunciation:ah-yumm buuah ka-luuak
Description:It is a Peranakan chicken dish cooked with “keluak” nuts The Keluak nut has a tough shell exterior, but contains a piquant liquid inside. The contents in the nut are removed and cooked with spices, then stuffed back into the shell again.
Trivia:It takes alot of time and effort to prepare this dish, usually about 3 whole days from preparation to serving.
Babi Pongteh
Pronunciation:bah-bee pong-tay
Description:This is a Peranakan dish consisting of pork trotters stewed in a thick brown sauce (fermented bean paste usually). The distinguishing feature of Babi Pongteh is that the pork is cooked with preserved soya beans, along with sugar, cloves and cinnamon.
Trivia:A signature dish for the Nonya community, there is a traditional way of eating the Babi Pongteh - the first scoop that everyone will have will be the potatoes and the dish is eaten with powedered chilli garam (chilli and salt).
Bak Chang (Rice Dumplings)
Pronunciation:bah-chahng
Description:A type of rice dumpling in the shape of a pyramid. Bak Chang is made of glutinous rice, pork, mushrooms and chestnuts, wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. These rice dumplings are usually eaten during the traditional Dragon Boat Festival celebrated by the Chinese in Singapore.
Trivia:The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, to commemorate the death of a famous Chinese poet called Qu Yuan. Legend has it that in 278BC, he committed suicide by jumping into a river after the kingdom that he was living in was taken over. Packets of rice (similar to Bak Chang) were thrown into the river to feed the fishes to prevent them from eating his body.
Bak Chor Mee (Minced Meat Noodles)
Pronunciation:bah-chor-mee
Description:Meaning minced meat noodles in Hokkien, Bak Chor Mee is usually served with Mee Pok (yellow wheat noodles) and topped with a generous amount of sliced mushrooms, pork liver slices and lettuce bits. Vinegar is one of the factors that determines the quality of Bak Chor Mee. Besides the aroma and sharp bursts of flavour provided by the vinegar, the correct amount, dosage and type of chilli sauce also provides a platform for a higher level of gastronomical delight.
Trivia:Initially created by Teochew immigrants, Bak Chor Mee was originally a soup dish with the 'springy' flat egg noodles being the trickiest element in the dish to perfect.
Bak Kut Teh ( Pork Ribs Soup)
Pronunciation:bah-kut-tê
Description:Literally translated, Bak Kut Teh refers to 'meat bone tea'. A generous amount of pork ribs and a variety of herbs and spices are simmered together for hours to create this flavourful broth. The Teochew version of this dish has a clear soup base and uses more pepper whereas the soup of the Hokkien version is dark due to the soy sauce added. Ingredients present in both variants include star anise, cinnamon, garlic, angelica sinensis and fennel seeds. Dip pieces of youtiao (fried dough) into this soup dish to eat it like a Singaporean!
Trivia:Chinese tea is typically served with this dish to flush down the fats in the dish. Hence, the 'tea' in 'meat bone tea'.
Bak Kwa (Dried Pork)
Pronunciation:bah-kuuah
Description:A Chinese food consisting of salty-sweet slices of dried barbecued glazed pork. Bak Kwa is believed to have originated from a meat preservation and preparation technique which was used in ancient China, particularly in places under Hokkien influence. The minced pork version is prepared by shaping minced meat into slices before grilling them whereas the sliced pork version is prepared by slicing off solid blocks of meat.
Trivia:An extremely popular snack during the Chinese New Year, Singaporeans are willing to stand and queue for hours just to get their hands on Bak Kwa. All these despite inflated prices during that period of the year.
Beef Noodles
Description:As the name suggests, beef noodles is a type of Chinese noodle dish consisting of stewed beef (cubes or sliced) and beef broth. It can be served with or without soup depending on the customer's preference.
Trivia:There are many variations to the beef noodles, with the type of noodle used and the thickness of the broth playing essential roles in enhancing different flavours.
Black Pepper Crabs
Description:One of the two types of crab dishes believed to be created in Singapore, the black pepper crab dish involves the cooking of decent-sized crabs in black pepper, butter, sugar, coriander and oyster sauce. It is one of Singapore's favourite seafood dishes and well loved by many.
Trivia:Sometimes, the crab shells can be a tad stubborn when you try to break through them to get to the flesh. Therefore, seafood restaurants and eateries have been providing nutcrackers for this purpose.

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