The way to a Singaporean’s heart


… is through their stomachs! For Jolene (also known as Miss Crumbs A Lot), a SAHM from Texas, she whips up delicious local yummies every time she misses home. This National Day, we find out what she misses most about Singapore! She also shares a few of her favourite recipes below – Satay, Chwee Kueh, Chicken Rice, and even the nostalgic gem biscuits snack – need we say more?

9 July 2021 / By Jolene Sng-Ong

Jolene and her family

We have been living in Texas since 2010, and there is so much about Singapore that I miss. Apart from my family and friends, I really miss the amazing food that Singapore has and the lifestyle conveniences this little efficient island provides. From quick service options at the hawker centres and food courts to the more sophisticated restaurants, the vibrant food scene warms my heart as I often reminisce about the times when we get together with family and friends over food.  And I’ve seen on social media that many home food businesses have emerged due to the pandemic. It is so awesome to see such talent and entrepreneurship!

Before the pandemic, I’d host a Singapore National Day party every year at home for fellow Singaporeans living here as well as for our American friends. I’d cook an array of Singaporean dishes and treats for our friends and we’d share stories of our time in Singapore. Since the pandemic, we have just kept the celebration small with just our family over a home cooked meal. This year, I’ll pull up the National Day Parade online and show it to the kids as well!

I hope the recipes below will help you recreate memories of Singapore!


Satay

One Singapore classic food that I love to make is Satay. These little handheld meat skewers are such a versatile dish. I typically marinate the meat the night before and skewer the meat the next day before grilling them over my Satay grill, which is a long rectangular grill using charcoals. But you can grill them over any type of grill or even bake them in your oven if a grill is not available. Boldly seasoned and lightly charred over the grill, these Satays are one of my family’s favorites!


Recipe

Satay Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs Beef Filet Mignon or Chicken Thighs
  • 8 oz Shallots
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1 1/2 inch slice of Turmeric
  • 1/4 inch slice of Galangal 
  • 4 1/2 stalk of Lemongrass (white portion, sliced thinly)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Tamarind Extract
  • 1 1.2 tsp Anise Seeds
  • 6 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 6 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Skewers (soaked in water for 20 min)

Basting Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Coconut Milk
  • 4 1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

Instructions

  1. Cut beef and/or chicken into small 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blend the shallots, garlic, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, coriander powder, cumin powder, tamarind extract, anise seeds, sugar, salt and vegetable oil until a smooth paste is formed. 
  3. Mix the marinade with the meat and allow it to marinate for 3 -4 hours or overnight if time permits.
  4. Prepare the charcoal grill, use charcoal sparingly as too much heat will burn the Satay easily.
  5. Skewer the marinated meat and prepare the basting sauce by mixing the coconut milk and vegetable oil together.
  6. Cook the Satay over the grill, flipping frequently to ensure even cooking and baste it with the coconut milk and oil mixture. Lightly char it, if desired.
    Makes approximately 200 Satays

Chwee Kueh

Savory Steamed Rice Dumplings, or as what we commonly refer to as “Chwee Kueh” in Singapore, is a popular breakfast dish. “Chwee Kueh” literally means “water rice cake”. It is a really simple dish – a rice flour and water mixture that is steamed in small cup-shaped containers or saucers and topped with a savory dried radish topping.

Recipe

Topping Ingredients

  • 14 oz Chinese Dried Radish
  • 4 tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 15 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sugar

Dumpling Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Caltrop Starch or Cornstarch
  • 6 1/3 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Salt

Instructions

  1. Soak chinese dried radish in water for 15 to 30 min. Drain and mince in food processer.
  2. Heat oil in a pot and place the dried radish in. Simmer on med/low heat for 40 min.
  3. Add chopped garlic and stir well. Simmer for another 10 to 15 min or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
  4. Add salt into water and bring it to boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Add rice flour and starch into water and mix well.
  6. Pour mixture into molds. (Small 2 inch diameter cups) Fill about 1 inch deep.
  7. Steam cook for 15 to 20 min.
  8. Serve with radish topping and sambal chilli, if desired.

Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of my favourite dishes. It is also one of the first Singaporean dishes that I attempted to make on my own here in Houston. I have made it many times for my family and friends and they absolutely love it. Adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in South China, the rice is cooked in chicken stock. When they all come together, the end result is a savoury and fragrant rice. There is just something about the flavourful rice that you serve with the tender chicken meat, which was poached in sub-boiling temperature, along with an aromatic sauce!

Recipe

Chicken Rice Chilli Sauce

  • 90 g Red Chillies (rinsed and patted dry) (I used chilli padi)
  • 15 g Garlic (skinned)
  • 50 g Ginger (skinned)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • 60 g Lime (juiced)
  • 50 ml Chicken Stock

Chicken

  • 1 Whole Chicken (approx. 3.5 lbs)
  • 3 ltr Water

Sauce

  • 90ml Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 3 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 3 tsp Shallot Oil

Fragrant Rice

  • 450g (approx 2 1/4 cup) Uncooked Rice (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Shallots
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 Garlic Bulb (with skin on)
  • 1 bunch Pandan Leaves (screwpine leaves)

Seasoning

  • 600ml Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 oz piece of Ginger (smashed)
  • 1 tbsp Chicken Stock Powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare Chilli Sauce first (or it can be prepared a day in advance and kept refrigerated). Blend the red chillies, ginger and garlic until it is fine. Add sugar, salt, lime juice and chicken stock. Blend to mix well.
  2. Place chicken in a pot and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and leave it to boil for 5 min. Turn heat to a low simmer and leave chicken in water for 30 min. (More time will be needed for larger chickens) Remove chicken and place it in iced water for 30 min.
  3. Heat oil and stir fry shallots and garlic until it is fragrant. Add rice and mix well. Place rice mixture into rice cooker. Add seasoning, garlic bulb and pandan leaves. Cook according to rice cooker instructions or until cooked. Remove garlic bulb, pandan leaves and ginger pieces before serving.
  4. Cut chicken and pour sauce over it. Serve with fragrant rice, chilli sauce and dark soy sauce. Garnish with cilantro and cucumbers.
    Serves 4 to 6

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Just throw everything in the slow cooker, set it and dinner will be ready in a few hours. Just the perfect recipe for your family be it for a busy week night dinner or for when you are out and about with the family having some summer fun!


Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Chicken Thighs (skinless and boneless, cut into bite size)
  • 1 large Onion (finely diced)
  • 5 cloves Garlic (finely minced)
  • 4 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 3 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 3 tsp Paprika
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1 can 28oz Diced Tomatoes
  • 14 fl oz Coconut Milk
  • 1 head Cauliflower (cut into bite size)
  • Cilantro (for garnishing)

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a slow cooker, except for the coconut milk and cilantro.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours.
  3. 45 minutes before the end of the cook time, add in coconut milk. 
  4. Continue cooking. You may do so uncovered if you prefer a slightly thicker sauce.
  5. Serve with rice.
    Serves 4 to 6

Sticky Rice and Coconut Egg Custard

Sticky Rice and Coconut Egg Custard is a traditional Peranakan delicacy. The Peranakans are the Singapore Straits born Chinese whose fusion cuisine is very much influenced by the Chinese and Malay culture and cuisine. This little dessert or “kueh”, as  the locals would call it, is made with a base layer of sticky glutinous rice that is steamed cooked with coconut milk and salt. Next, it is weighted down by a layer of thick custard that is made from coconut milk and eggs. When the savory sticky rice and sweet custard is eaten together, it is a delightful experience because of it aromatic fragrance.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Sticky Rice Layer Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups Uncooked Glutinous Rice (soaked in water overnight and drained)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 bunch Pandan Leaves (Screwpine Leaves)

Coconut Egg Custard Layer

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup Shaved Coconut Sugar (or you may use palm sugar)
  • 3/4 cup Thick Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Rice Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Instructions

  1. Combine glutinous rice with salt and coconut milk and place it in a square (8″) baking pan.
  2. Tie the pandan leaves into a knot and place it on top of the glutinous rice. Steam cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  3. Remove the pandan leaves and flake the rice with a fork. Then use your hands to press down the glutinous rice to compress it, forming an even layer.
  4. Steam cook for an additional 5 minutes before add the custard layer.
  5. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add in coconut milk, rice flour, salt and mix well.
  6. Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.
  7. Remove from heat immediately and pour it over the rice layer.
  8. Steam cook it for 25 minutes or until the custard sets.
  9. Allow the cake to be completely cooled before slicing into desired shapes (usually cubes or diamonds).
    Makes 15 to 20 slices

Gem Biscuits

Gem Biscuits are one of the “old school” snacks that is possibly every Singaporean’s favourite childhood sweet treat. The small round biscuits are topped with bright coloured icing, typically pink, yellow, white and green (as a kid, the white gem biscuit was my least favourite so I omitted white and added blue instead). I made the biscuit portion a little different from the original – mine tastes more like butter shortbread which I personally liked better.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 stick Salted Butter (4 oz) (cold)
  • 2 oz Sugar
  • 5 1/2 oz Flour (sifted)
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 tsp Water
  • Gel Food Coloring

Instructions

  1. Mix 2 oz sugar with 5 1/2 oz of sifted flour in a large bowl.
  2. Cut 1 stick of cold butter into small cubes into the flour and sugar mixture. Using your finger tips, rub in the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Using your hands, pack and knead it until a soft dough is form (do not overwork it as the warmth from your hands will melt the butter).
  3. Place the dough in between some plastic wrap and roll it with a rolling pin till about 1/4 inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits and place them on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before icing them.
  5. Mix 2 egg whites and 1 tsp of water together. Whisk it on low speed until it is frothy. Add in 4 cups of powdered sugar in small batches and whisk in on medium speed. Once all sugar has been added, whisk on high speed until a firm peak is form.
  6. Divide the icing into portions and add gel food coloring. Pipe the icing on top of the cooled biscuits with a piping bag and tip.
    Makes 15 to 20 slices



About Jolene Sng-Ong

Formerly a Flight Stewardess with Singapore Airlines and subsequently a Development Manager at The National Museum of Singapore, I left that exciting life to another just as exhilarating one: a full time stay at home mom to 2 kids. We live in Houston, Texas and have been here since 2010. I started food blogging as a hobby, attempting to recreate Singaporean local delights with the available ingredients here in Texas, and also sharing the diverse food scene Houston has to offer.

You can connect with Jolene here on Instagram.


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