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!


Braised Duck
Description:Braised duck is usually served with rice or porridge and is commonly found in hawker centres all over Singapore. The duck is usually cooked in a broth that includes cinnamon and duck bones and left to absorb the flavours of the broth. This method of cooking requires a great deal of effort and experience is important to cooking the perfect braised duck. The best braised ducks are usually served with yam rice (steamed rice with pieces of yam and dried shrimp). A generous amount of gravy and spicy chili sauce would complete the experience.
Trivia:Customers tend to buy whole braised ducks home for family gatherings or special occasions. You can also order braised tau kua (hard bean curd), braised intestines and braised eggs to go with the duck.
Bubur Cha Cha
Pronunciation:boh-boh cha-cha
Description:A popular Peranakan dessert made from tapioca, sweet potato, sago seeds, beans and tropical fruits. Served with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk, it's distinct sweet flavour and colourful appearance makes it easy to identify. The dish is served either hot or chilled, depending on customer's preference. Some stalls add pandan leaves into the coconut milk while others use gula melaka instead of sugar to sweeten the dessert.
Trivia:
Carrot Cake
Description:In Singapore, carrot cake refers to fried radish cakes. It is made of rice flour and white radish, stir fried with eggs, garlic, spring onions, and occasionally, dried shrimps. There are two variations to the carrot cake in Singapore - the 'white carrot cake' and the 'black carrot cake'. The former does not use sweet soy sauce and is fried on top of a beaten egg to form some sort of a crust. The latter uses sweet soy sauce and the beaten egg is simply mixed in.
Trivia:A common dish of Teochew cuisine, Malaysia's fried carrot cake usually exist in large slabs and is steamed before it is fried whole. In Singapore, it is commonly cut into smaller pieces.
Century Egg Porridge
Description:Century egg porridge is a popular breakfast dish for many Singaporeans, especially the Chinese. The main ingredient lies in the century egg, or cured duck egg. The duck egg is cured in its shell using a mixture of quicklime, ash, clay and water for about a hundred days before being coated with straw. This particular process will enable the egg to solidify, turning the egg white dark and translucent, and the egg yolk a dull greenish colour. There will be a particular odour during the process.
Trivia:There have been persistent rumours that century eggs are prepared by soaking the eggs in horse urine. That is however unproven. The myth probably resulted due to the fact that century eggs give off an ammonia odour - which smells similar to that of horse urine.
Char Kway Teow
Pronunciation:chahr-kuay-tiow
Description:Literally meaning 'stir-fried ricecake strips', Char Kway Teow is a sweet and savoury dish consisting of flat white rice noodles fried with soya sauce, bean sprouts and cockles. Chinese sausage slices and pork lard can also be added to this dish and then served the traditional way on a piece of banana leaf.
Trivia:When Char Kway Teow was first invented, it was actually a dish mainly served to labourers. This is due to its high fat content and low cost which made it so attractive to people who wants a cheap source of energy and nutrients.
Char Siew
Pronunciation:chah sioo
Description:This is actually boneless lean pork popular with the Chinese people. It is seasoned with various ingredients such as sugar, five-spices powder, honey, red food colouring, soya sauce and rice wine before being roasted. It is usually sliced and served with rice or noodles. But can also be eaten on its own with a special sweet sauce or even used as a stuffing in buns.
Trivia:Char Siew traditionally uses only the shoulder cut of the pork, but it is believed that during the ancient times, wild boar meat was used.
Cheng Tng
Pronunciation:ching teng
Description:This is a traditional sweet Chinese dessert soup, made with longans, barley, ginkgo nuts and white fungus. Served either hot or cold, it is usually sweetened with rock sugar, and optional ingredients include red dates and crystallized winter melon. Also served as a good thirst quencher, Cheng Tng is believed to have beneficial health properties. It literally translates to 'cooling soup'.
Trivia:Traditionally, Cheng Tng consists of the 'lok mei', or 6 types of herbs (lotus seed, honey dates, dried longans, Chinese barley, and two types of tree barks) - essential in cooling the body down. However, it is difficult to find the original version now since people tend not to view it as a dessert when all 6 herbs are used. Therefore, ingredients such as lychee and sago balls have been used as substitutes.
Chicken Rice
Description:Also known as Hainanese chicken rice, boiled chicken is served on rice that has already been flavoured with chicken stock. The chicken rice is eaten with dark soya sauce, sweet chilli sauce and pounded ginger. A bowl of chicken broth is provided to accompany the dish.
Trivia:Considered a 'national dish' of Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is often served at international expositions and global events. At Singaporean-run restaurants abroad and on Singapore Airlines too, it is often found on the menu.
Chilli Crabs
Description:A seafood dish originating from Singapore, chilli crabs consist of hard-shell crabs cooked in a thick gravy with a tomato chilli base. A perennial favourite among Singaporeans, sink your teeth into the succulent flesh of the crabs and experience the spicy yet surprisingly sweet flavour dancing around your taste buds. One of the main attraction of this dish lies in the sauce for the chilli crabs. Semi-thick, sweet and savoury, it is thickened with thickening flour and flavoured with garlic, vinegar and soya sauce. Beaten eggs are also usually added to create 'egg ribbons' within the sauce.
Trivia:Chilli crabs are often served with bread that customers can use to mop up the sauce. These breads could be steamed or fried mantous (Chinese buns), french loaves and toasted sliced bread. Also, the shells of the crabs are usually partially cracked before cooking so that it'll be easier for patrons to eat later.
Chin Chao (Grass Jelly Drink)
Pronunciation:chin chow
Description:Chin Chao is a jelly-like dessert commonly found around Singapore, it is also known as grass jelly. The jelly can be cut into cubes or other forms, mixed with syrup and then served. It is believed that this dessert possess cooling properties which are beneficial to the body.
Trivia:Chin Chao is actually made by boiling the aged and slightly oxidized leaves and stalks of the Mesona chinensis (a member of the mint family). This is done with potassium carbonate with a little bit of starch for hours, and then cooled to a jelly-like consistency.

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