Discover 'Secret Ingredients' behind hawker dishes in Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre exhibition

Interactive game at Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre's new travelling exhibition titled Secret Ingredients. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Are you a big fan of hawker dishes like Hainanese chicken rice and have often wondered what secret ingredients go into making them? Now, you can find out in a mobile exhibition served up by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC).

Titled Secret Ingredients, the initiative - which uses food as the theme to reach out to the community - offers an interactive and fun experience to discover the origins of favourite hawker delights like bak kut teh and laksa.

Making its debut on Tuesday (March 1) at Waterway Point's The Cove, the event invites visitors to decode the "secret ingredients" of each dish.

They will experience different investigative scenarios such as coming across yong tau foo at a "crime scene" or analysing the different colours of bak kut teh in a "forensics lab".

Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Home Affairs as well as Sustainability and the Environment, said at the launch: "Hawker food is more than just food - it is a legacy that binds us to our ancestors who brought the very first hawker dishes to our shores... It is a celebration of our multicultural society, which is the source of some of our beloved hawker dishes like chicken rice, laksa and char kway teow."

He added that his favourite hawker fare is Hokkien mee.

Madam Yolanda Padilla Berganio, a fan of yong tau foo, supports the exhibition's focus on the origins of the dishes.

The 53-year-old food and beverage service staff said: "Food is like a universal interest and people may want to modify some dishes along the way to suit their preferences. But we should not forget the heritage behind our local food."

After ending on March 31 at Waterway Point, the exhibition will head to other shopping malls and schools in the next two years. Visitors can check here for more information.

The content of the exhibition is extracted from SCCC's popular permanent exhibition called Singapo(ren): Discovering Chinese Singaporean Culture, which is ongoing at the centre at 1 Straits Boulevard.

Beyond food, Singapo(ren) showcases different aspects of local Chinese culture such as festivals and language, and has attracted more than 60,000 visitors since its debut in March 2020.

SCCC will be launching microsite Singapo(ren) Online on March 7 that will include games, videos, fun facts and articles on Chinese Singaporean culture.

The microsite will also act as a good resource for students, educators and parents to learn about the evolution of Chinese Singaporean culture across time.

Mr Low Sze Wee, SCCC's chief executive officer, said: "Similar to how our lives have evolved, the way we present our culture must also keep up with the times and the progress of technology.

(From left) SCCC programme director Lee Ee Wurn, SCCC chairman Chua Thian Poh, Minister of State for Home Affairs as well as Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan and SCCC chief executive Low Sze Wee at the launch of SCCC's new travelling exhibition, Secret Ingredients. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

"The Secret Ingredients travelling exhibition and Singapo(ren) Online are both important initiatives in bringing our distinctive local Chinese culture closer to Singaporeans' homes and their hearts. We hope that the public will enjoy the interactivity of both programmes and discover our local Chinese culture in a new light."

SCCC, which opened in 2017, is marking its fifth anniversary this year with inclusivity and accessibility as its goals for its offerings, including the mobile exhibition and microsite.

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