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!

Chwee Kueh
Pronunciation:chuuee kueh
Description:A type of steamed rice cake that is usually eaten with chye poh (preserved radish). To make Chwee Kueh, rice flour and water are mixed together to form a viscous mixture. The mixture is then placed in small cup-shaped containers and then steamed. When scooped out, the rice cakes takes the shape of the containers.
Trivia:How do you determine a good Chwee Kueh? You can do so by shaking the plate, and if the Chwee Kueh wobbles like jelly, it is a sign that they are close to perfection. Also, the best tasting Chwee Kueh will come with a chilli paste that is made from Hae Bee (small dried shrimps).
Claypot Rice
Description:Claypot rice is a dish typically served with diced chicken, Chinese sausages and vegetables, and cooked till the rice lining the bottom of the pot is burnt. The rice is cooked in the claypot before ingredients such as diced chicken and Chinese sausages are added in. Depending on the patron's preference, dark soya sauce and salted fish can also be added to add more flavour to the dish.
Trivia:It is commonly suggested that the tastiest claypot rice can only be made by cooking it over the traditional charcoal stove. With the flames licking the sides of the pot and charring the rice that are closest to the bottom, this somehow helps to infuse a smoky flavour into the claypot rice.
Curry Fish Head
Description:Curry fish head is a dish whereby the fish head (usually that of a red snapper) is semi-stewed in a Kerala-style curry with assorted vegetables. These vegetables include okra and brinjals, and once the dish is ready, it is served with rice or bread. Tamarind (asam) juice is usually added to the curry fish head to create a sweet-sour taste and sometimes, coconut milk is added to the curry to give it a milky flavour.
Trivia:One of Singapore's national dishes, fish head curry was created by a chef who wanted his South-Indian style food to cater to a wider clientele. His creation turned out to be a hot (pun intended) success.
Curry Puff
Description:Curry puffs are delightful small pies that are filled with specialised curry chicken and potatoes. Sometimes, bits of hard boiled eggs are added in to give it an extra oomph. The filling is covered by a deep fried or baked pastry shell. The curry is meant to be thick so as to prevent it from oozing out.
Trivia:Over the years, curry puffs have started to evolve in terms of fillings. Although the crust is still the traditional thick or flaky English-style crust, the fillings are no longer restricted to curry but have became more unconventional with durian, corn, red bean, nata de coco, grass jelly and even bird's nest.
Dim Sum
Description:Dim sum consists of a range of traditional Cantonese dishes that are served small in portions but in great variety. They include Cantonese dumplings, steamed pork ribs, chicken feet, custard puffs, buns and other small pastries placed in a small steamer basket or on a plate. Dim sum is linked to the traditional term 'yum cha', which means to drink tea in Cantonese, as tea is typically served with dim sum. Other items you can order include rice noodle rolls (cheong fun), roasted meats and congee porridge.
Trivia:Individual Dim Sums are typically portioned for 3-4 small servings. Larger tables will probably order two to three plates of a same dish so as to cater to everyone at the table. Dishes can also be classified as 'small', 'medium' or 'large', with prices varying accordingly.
Fish Head Bee Hoon
Description:Fish head bee hoon is a dish consisting of bee hoon (rice vermicelli) and fish slices in a soup. In this Singaporean favourite, the fish and soup are the two components which make the dish special. Stalls usually use a type of freshwater fish, the Snakehead, to cook this dish. It has a pleasantly firm texture and a neutral smell and taste. The fish slices are first lightly stir-fried, blanched in soups or coated with flour before being fried. The soup is made from fish stock and evaporated milk and sometimes pieces of pork lard are added in to enhance the overall flavour.
Trivia:There is a special variation to the fish head bee hoon that had everyone swooning since its' creation 14 years ago - the XO fish head bee hoon. The addition of the famous brandy to the soup has tickled the taste buds of many who have come to love the dish. The original stall is likely the 'Holland Village XO Fish Head Bee Hoon', with the owner claiming that he only uses the freshest of ingredients to match the 'luxury' of XO.
Fishball Noodles
Description:Fishball noodles is a Chinese dish consisting of soup, noodles and bite-size fishballs. The succulent fishballs are traditionally made from raw fish flesh which are mashed and kneaded in a bucket. The mixture is then flavoured and shaped into balls - ready to be cooked. The noodles come in a variety of choices: bee hoon (rice vermicelli), mee (yellow wheat noodles), mee kia (yellow wheat vermicelli noodles, kway teow (flat rice noodles) or flat yellow wheat noodles (mee pok). Served in soup or dry, fishball noodles can topped with ingredients such as sliced black mushrooms, minced pork, seaweed and spring onions.
Trivia:The very humble looking fishball is the key component of this dish and it is incredibly difficult to make the perfect fishball. For a start, it must possess the right bouncy texture which you can never get by using the food processor to mince the raw fish. Fishball sellers all agree that the paste has to be beaten manually, and beaten to a right consistency to get the protein strands of the fish to unravel and align. All these work just to produce that delightful little bounce.
Fried Beef Hor Fun
Description:A thick gravy and tender beef slices are hallmarks of a tasty beef hor fun. The traditional wok hei (smokey) flavour is a plus. The need for a skillful cook to be able to control the fire well makes this dish one of the hardest to perfect. Bean sprouts and mustard greens are usually added to give it more colour and flavour.
Trivia:The 'secret' ingredient that perhaps enhances the whole dish is the humble ginger. Widely acknowledged to go perfectly with beef slices, it gives the elusive 'X factor' that separates a good serving of fried beef hor fun from a merely decent one.
Fried Rice
Description:A stir-fried rice dish cooked in light soy sauce, oyster sauce, shallots, garlic, eggs, vegetables, bean sprouts, crab meat, spring onions, carrots and meat. Prawns are also included in seafood fried rice. Some people prefer to eat fried rice with green chilli which is readily available at most eateries which serve fried rice.
Frog Legs Porridge
Description:Admittedly, the sound of it may not be agreeable to all. Rest assured though, it taste nothing like offal. Frog legs are usually stir fried and mixed with light spices, stewed and served with porridge in a claypot.
Trivia:When asked to describe, many who have tried the dish akin the taste of frog legs to chicken.

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