Singapore Cooking: Fabulous Recipes from Asia’s Food Capital

“If you love to cook, are undaunted with unique ingredients, and want to capture the flavors of another land, accept the challenge and get cooking.”

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, chop suey houses were all the rage. Opening early and closing late, they were a place to get a good, cheap meal no matter what time of day or night. Over the following decades chop suey and chow mein remained the go-to dishes for those ordering Asian food. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that American diners discovered other regions of Chinese cuisine, Hunan and Szechuan being the first two major ones. For those who loved the flavors of Asia, Malaysian, Indian, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese were also added to the selection of what to eat and cook. But Singapore gastronomic endeavors were often overlooked.

Not anymore.

To those in the know, Singapore cuisine has always been, as Terry Tan and Christopher Tan write in their introduction of the cookbook Singapore Cooking: Fabulous Recipes from Asia’s Food Capital (Tuttle Publishing), a topic of utmost importance.

“Some wag once said that the quickest way to start a debate in Singapore is to walk up to a random group of people and ask them “So where can I get the best chicken rice?” the two Tans write in the book’s foreword.

The great Anthony Bourdain also weighed in about the foods of this island nation saying, New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Singapore’s the city that never stops eating. For a gastro-tourist, somebody who travels to eat, any kind of serious eater, Singapore’s probably the best place you can go . . .”

Looking through this glossy paged book with its full-color photos and 100 recipes including those for such dishes as Ayam Tempra–Chicken Braised in Spicy Sweet Soy, Gulai Prawns with Pineapple, Nangka Lemak Young Jackfruit Coconut Curry, and Coconut Pancakes with Banana Sauce, it’s easy to agree that Singapore gastronomy is all “shiok” or in other words “sublime and unspeakably wonderful.”

But though it all sounds delicious, this isn’t necessarily an easily accessible cookbook. Ingredients such as dried prawns, pandanus leaves, and tamarind may mean for many not only a search or special trip to an Asian grocery store but also an added expense and one where they’ll wonder when they might use the product again. Despite this, for anyone who wants to explore a multicultural cuisine that encompasses influences from many of the surrounding countries as well, it is very much worth the effort.

To make it easier for the novice, the authors have organized their book into chapters such as “Marinades, Chutneys, Sambals and Achars” and “Breads, Rice and Noodles” and included a nice glossary of ingredients (with photos!) as well as a brief history of Singaporeans cuisine.

If you love to cook, are undaunted with unique ingredients, and want to capture the flavors of another land, accept the challenge and get cooking.

About the Authors and Photographer

Terry Tan is a distinguished cooking teacher, food consultant, food historian, and writer who has been dishing up Singaporean delights to people around the world for many years. He writes and broadcasts regularly on Asian and Oriental food and cookery from his base in London.

Christopher Tan is an award-winning writer, cooking instructor, and photographer who contributes articles, recipes and pictures to numerous magazines in Asia. Singaporean by birth, he grew up in London and now hangs out anywhere there is good food. You can find his work at www. foodfella.com.

Edmond Ho is a noted food, travel, and lifestyle photographer based in Singapore. In the late 1990s, he introduced a new style of food photography in Singapore using extreme close-ups and blurred backgrounds together with natural lighting. He has done shots for more than 25 cookbooks.

This review originally appeared in the New York Journal of Books.

Author: Jane Simon Ammeson

Jane Simon Ammeson is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, food and personalities. She writes frequently for The Times of Northwest Indiana, Kentucky Living magazine, Edible Michiana, Lakeland Boating, Experience Michigan magazine, Indiana Monthly, Cleveland Magazine, Long Weekends Magazine, Food, Wine, Travel magazine and the Herald Palladium where she has a weekly food column. Her TouchScreenTravels include Indiana's Best. She also writes a weekly book review column for The Times of Northwest Indiana as well as food and travel, has authored 16 books including Lincoln Road Trip: The Back-road Guide to America's Favorite President was the winner of the Lowell Thomas Journalism Award in Travel Books, Third Place and also a Finalist for the 2019 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the Travel category. Her latest books are America's Femme Fatale: The Story of Serial Killer Belle Gunness and Classic Restaurants of Northwest Indiana. Her other books include How to Murder Your Wealthy Lovers and Get Away with It, A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana and Murders That Made Headlines: Crimes of Indiana, all historic true crime as well Hauntings of the Underground Railroad: Ghosts of the Midwest, Brown County, Indiana and East Chicago. Jane’s base camp is Stevensville, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. Follow Jane at facebook.com/janesimonammeson; twitter.com/hpammeson; https://twitter.com/janeammeson1; twitter.com/travelfoodin, instagram.com/janeammeson/ and on her travel and food blog janeammeson.com and book blog: shelflife.blog/

One thought on “Singapore Cooking: Fabulous Recipes from Asia’s Food Capital”

  1. Love the cuisine history part & my eagerness to know more about the Singaporean Rice, couldn’t have touched heights having read this nicely written piece of work. It truly stands tall being a land of Food.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: