Learning to cook or cooking for yourself is almost essential now that we’re staying home most of the time. While you might have to wait to experience the assortment of scrumptious dishes from our Michelin-starred restaurants to hawker centres and unique dining eateries, you can actually try making them in your own kitchen first.
Whether it’s the iconic chilli crab or the well-loved chicken rice, there are plenty of how-to demonstrations and recipes available online to guide you.
Regardless the outcome (and taste) of your creations, enjoy the experience and your interpretation of our national dishes. Here’s a list of video recipes on how to make some of the most popular Singaporean dishes by local chefs and foodies. It’s time to whip out the pots and pans, toss in the ingredients, and cook up a storm in the kitchen.
For starters, you can learn to make the crowd pleasing Hainanese chicken rice. While there are many different variations of chicken rice, the Hainanese version consists of poached chicken, rice cooked in chicken stock and a chilli dipping sauce. The dish is distinctive by cooking in chicken stock with ginger and pandan leaves, which is also present in the ingredients for chilli dipping sauce and the rice itself.
Watch Singaporean cooking channel, the MeatMen, who are actually just a bunch of unassuming guys with a passion for good food, and their fuss-free instructions on how to make the dish. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the chicken rice ball version here or use your leftover chicken fats to make the popular chicken rice chili sauce to complement your dish.
Just a heads up–there are a lot of ingredients needed to make this dish in about an hour from chicken stock, pandan leaves, lime juice, cucumber to cilantro, garlic, sesame oil and rice so make sure your pantry is well-stocked.
If you’re experiencing wet weather wherever you are, this spicy noodle soup dish is the perfect comfort food to have indoors thanks to its warm and wholesome broth.
We’re talking about our homegrown Katong laksa, which is inspired by the Peranakans* who live in the Katong area. It has a spicy soup stock the colour of a flaming sunset, flavoured with coconut milk and dried shrimp, and topped with ingredients like cockles, prawns and fishcake.
Head over to Spice N Pans, an online channel by a Singaporean couple and watch how co-founder, Roland Lim, put together the dish from frying the spice paste to making the fragrant prawn stock. There are plenty of steps, so take your time to look through the 14-minute video.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
If you’re up for a hearty meal, you’ve got to make nasi lemak, which literally means ‘rich rice’ when translated from its native language, Malay to English. The ‘rich’ refers not to wealth, but the coconut cream that makes it sinfully delish.
This dish is a perfect mix of flavours–aromatic rice infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves, eaten with deep-fried fish or chicken wings, otah (grilled fish paste), fried ikan bilis (local anchovies) and roasted peanuts, eggs, cucumber slices, and sambal (spicy chili paste).
The ingredients alone read like a feast already so cooking this dish can require some time and effort –about 50 minutes to an hour to be precise.
The Spice N’ Pans’ recipes come in three parts where the first video teaches you to make the coconut rice with an extra ingredient–lemongrass to make it even more fragrant. Another video teaches you how to make the sambal while the last video reveals the secret recipe for salted egg yolk fried chicken to complete your nasi lemak dish.
Watch Spice N’ Pans YouTube channel www.youtube.com/spicenpans
Rojak means an “eclectic mix” in colloquial Malay, and the dish sure lives up to its name. Its ingredients reflect the cultural diversity of Singapore, bringing together the disparate items with strong flavours into a harmoniously tasty blend.
Basically, it’s a local salad of mixed vegetables, fruits and dough fritters that is covered in a sticky black sauce and garnished with chopped peanuts and finely-cut fragrant ginger flowers for a piquant taste.
If you profess to have amateur cooking skills, then you’re in luck with rojak. This simple dish takes only about 15 minutes to make and the Meatmen’s Chinese spin of rojak chalks up about 10 steps. Pro tip: You might want to toast your dough fritter in the oven for a longer time to ensure crispiness.
Known as a comfort food or snack among locals, the ubiquitous kaya toast is basically charcoal-grilled or toasted slices of bread enveloping silvers of cold butter and a generous spread of kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut eggs).
While you can eat the toast at any time of the day, most locals have it for breakfast alongside soft-boiled eggs and a cup of coffee or tea. The secret of the snack lies in the kaya spread, which brings out the sweetness.
Learn how to make the jam on Dinched, a YouTube channel by a Singaporean food blogger. In this three-minute video, she simplified the cooking instructions in three easy steps using gula melaka (coconut palm sugar popular among locals and in the region) to make the jam.
Watch Dinched YouTube channel www.youtube.com/dinched
Lastly, we leave you with one of the most famous dishes in Singapore–the chilli crab. Chilli crab hits all the right spots with tangy gravy that seeps into the succulent flesh of the stir-fried crab. Despite its name, the dish is only mildly spicy, and is often described as sweet and savoury.
Learn how to make the chilli crab dish from the executive chef at Jumbo Seafood restaurant. The restaurant is known for their award-winning chilli crab and you can even purchase their chilli crab paste online. The detailed step-by-step video is in Mandarin and comes with English subtitles.
You would need to spend about 30 to 45 minutes cooking the dish, and come prepared with ingredients from dried chillies to eggs and yes, crabs. Although cooking seems rather easy, the preparation of the crabs can be tricky for some–you’ve been warned.