For a long time up until recently, Singapore’s local fare has played second fiddle to the seemingly more popular cuisines of the Italian and French.
While efforts to elevate Singapore cuisine have been made since the 1990s, hawker favourites — such as the pork noodle and chicken rice — have been given a boost in star power in 2016 when some stalls here were awarded one star at the launch of Michelin Guide Singapore.
It’s been a long time coming, but Singaporeans are now realising that our local food is equally capable of holding its own against that of other countries.
Millennials are now learning the value of and appreciating our local food.
The next wave
While dining out at hawker centres is a time-honoured tradition among Singaporeans, given the current global trend of eating and living well, the idea of cooking at home is also resonating well with young locals who want to enjoy their favourite hawker dishes with a healthier spin.
According to the 2010’s National Nutrition Survey, people who ate out often, consumed about 200 kcal more (or 10 per cent more calories) than those who seldom do.
For time-strapped millennials who do not have formal cooking experience, there is a perception that some popular dishes, such as bak kut teh, are too labour intensive to prepare at home. This may have discouraged some from trying to cook it at home.
Enter The Meat Men, an online platform which produces easy-to-follow cooking videos of local dishes. This makes it convenient for those who want to recreate the hawker experience in the comfort of their own homes.
Are you mindful of your diet but are craving for a plate of Hainanese chicken rice or a bowl of mee rebus? There is a healthier way to have your cake and eat it too —by making wiser choices while grocery shopping for your ingredients.
When buying ingredients for example, look out for the easily recognisable Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS), which indicates that the particular product fulfils the Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s nutrition guidelines.
While it doesn’t mean that it’s the healthiest option, it does contain less of something — total fat, saturated fat, sodium or sugar —and perhaps, includes more dietary fibre, calcium and whole grains than similar food products.
With these initiatives in place, recreating your favourite hawker dish at home will be both an enriching experience and a less-sinful indulgence.
Finding healthier choices when you shop for groceries need not be an islandwide hunt.
NTUC FairPrice offers close to 1,500 HCS certified products (including over 160 house brand products), making healthier options easily accessible to Singaporeans. For instance, house brands products such as FairPrice Thai Rice Blend are higher in wholegrain and contains five times more fibre and twice the iron compared to white rice. Its Premium Oyster Sauce is formulated to be lower in sodium, and free of trans-fat and cholesterol.
While shopping for ingredients to cook that healthier meal at home, you will also be spoilt for choice when picking up delicious HCS beverages from the supermarket to pair with your food.
While shopping for ingredients to cook that healthier meal at home, you will also be spoilt for choice when picking up delicious HCS beverages from the supermarket to pair with your food. With the wide range of HCS products that F&N offer, you can enjoy healthier yet great-tasting beverages any time of the day. Magnolia Lo-Fat Hi-Cal Milk with Oats has less than half the fat, but more than half the calcium in regular milk while F&N NutriSoy is lower in sugar, low in glycemic index (GI) and contains protein.
With healthier ingredients so readily available, preparing healthier dishes at home can be a breeze.
From Aug 1 to Oct 26, you can earn rewards when you choose healthier products in the Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge. Download the Healthy 365 app and purchase items featuring the HCS logo at one of the 3,000-plus participating F&B outlets, supermarkets and convenience stores islandwide. Visit gethealthy.sg/eatdrinkshop for more details.
Check out some of these hawkers offering novel wholegrain options for popular local fares:
Tiong Bahru Lor Mee
#02-80,Tiong Bahru Market,30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Healthier option: Wholegrain kway teow
Singa Sichuan Cuisine
#02-180, Chinatown Complex Market,335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Healthier option: Chicken rice (made with wholegrain rice and healthier oil such as canola blend oil)
Dapur Bonda Khadijah
#01-10, Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208877
Healthier option: Nasi padang (brown rice)
Liang Ji Kway Teow King
#01-165, The Marketplace @ 58, Blk 58 New Upper Changi Road,Singapore 461058
Healthier option: Wholegrain char kway teow
More of these in our upcoming feature.
Mee Rebus (wholegrain)
Ingredients 1 for rempah gravy
150g onion, large, red
1.5cm lengkuas (galangal/blue ginger)
1.5cm kunyit hidup (or ½ tsp turmeric powder)
20g dried chilli, pre-soaked
2 stalks lemongrass
40g dried shrimp
2 to 3 tbsp water
Grind all the above together.
3 tbsp biryani powder (or curry powder)
100g tau cheo (preserved soya bean paste), ground
2 tbsp peanuts, pounded
2 to 3 tbsp plain flour / sweet potato flour
Mix Ingredients 3 well
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp sugar
600g wholegrain noodles
300g bean sprouts
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 stalks Chinese celery leaf
2 stalks spring onion, diced
5 pieces green chilli, diced
6 limes, cut into half
3 cubes tau pok, cut into half
3 tbsp fried onion (optional)
• Using medium heat, heat oil in a wok.
• Add and stir-fry ingredients 1 for the gravy until fragrant. Add in ingredients 2, and continue frying. Lastly add in ingredients 3 to make gravy. Bring to boil.
• Stir in the sugar and bring to boil. Taste and add salt if necessary.
• Blanch yellow wholegrain noodles and bean sprouts in boiling water. Drain well.
• Put noodles and bean sprouts in serving bowls.
• Pour gravy on top of noodles, add garnishes, and serve hot.
Fancy serving up other local favourites at home? Look up healthhub.sg/recipes for more tasty nutritious recipes.
In collaboration with Health Promotion Board.