Singaporeans aren’t afraid to admit just how much we love our hawker fare. But thanks to the pandemic, heading out for a local feast has gotten that much harder. Now that we’ve got the time, why not show our love for Singaporean cuisine by whipping up these meals ourselves? Fair warning though; these dishes will require a lot of effort to make. But what better way to learn just how tough it is to prepare these local favourites that we’ve all probably taken for granted?
Authentic, home-cooked chicken rice is hard to beat. To make, begin by cleaning a whole chicken of its fat deposits, and cook those solids till crisp before setting aside both the oil and residue. Next, poach the chicken with pounded, unpeeled ginger along with spring onions, salt and chicken stock powder. While it cooks, lift the chicken in and out of the water so the liquid changes in the chicken’s cavity. 45mins later, plunge the bird into a sink of iced water. Remove, drain well and rub the skin of the chicken with sesame oil. For the rice, pound garlic and shallots then combine this with chicken and vegetable oil, then heat the mixture in a wok over medium heat. Add more garlic and ginger until the combination browns, then strain the liquid through a sieve. Get your rice into the cooker then add the leftover chicken stock and flavoured chicken oil. Once that’s cooked, plate your chicken and rice to serve up this good ol’ fashioned local dish.
This delicious Hokkien mee recipe may take a bit of work, but it’s so worth the effort. In a large pot, stir-fry oil, shallots, garlic and prawn shells, then add two litres of boiling water as well as white peppercorns, ikan bilis, rock sugar, fish sauce and pork bones to make a seafood broth. After the mixture simmers for 45mins, poach squid rings, fish cakes and prawns in the seafood broth. Now get your wok out and stir-fry an egg with pork lard, yellow noodles, thick beehoon and thin beehoon. Flavour the dish with some light soy sauce and seafood broth while adding ingredients such as poached pork belly, fish cake, squid and prawn. Allow the noodles to sit for a couple of minutes before tossing in chives and dark soy sauce. Finally, enjoy the homemade Hokkien mee with a side of sambal and fresh lime.
Create the ultimate Singaporean laksa from scratch by starting off with a stock base using stir-fried prawn heads and water combined and boiled for an hour. Next, blend dried shrimp separately from a mix of spices such as shallots, garlic, red chilli, dried chilli, lemongrass, candlenut, fresh turmeric, blue ginger and belachan. Fry the spice paste with oil for about 30-40mins, then add in the dried shrimp. Place the paste into the prawn base and let the broth cook further before seasoning it with sugar, salt and coconut milk. This will be the time to chuck in some beancurd too. After the broth cooks a little more, turn off the heat and ladle the creamy laksa soup over a bowl of boiled, thick beehoon, egg and prawns, and you’ve got yourself a bowl of homemade laksa.
Since there’s quite a lot to pick up at the market prior to cooking this dish, be sure to round up all the vital ingredients before you begin. Once you’ve assembled all your items, go ahead and start on the fragrant prawn broth by stir-frying prawn shells with garlic, ikan bilis, star anise and brown sugar. After which, add boiling water, pre-blanched pork ribs, white peppercorns, rock sugar, fish sauce, white pepper powder and dark soya sauce, then leave the stew to simmer for at least two hours. Pick out the pork ribs and skim the top layer of stock when done. And don’t forget to blanch some prawns in the soup for just a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, cook the yellow noodles, morning glory and beansprouts separately; then place these into a large bowl with your broth, pork ribs and prawns. Enjoy the hearty noodle soup with additional chilli powder and fried shallots if you please.