Speak of coincidence – last month I had gone to Singapore and Malaysia for a short visit. On return I was planning to blog about Singapore food. A few days later I got an email from Mojo PR inviting me to a preview event of the Singapore Food Festival that will take place in the UAE in February. There was going to be a cooking demonstration by the renowned Chef Violet Oon . I got really excited, I didn’t know much about the Singapore cuisine , and here I was getting a chance to know more about it and from none other than the brand ambassador of Singapore food, Chef Violet Oon , herself !!
The event was held at Parti Perfect, a lovely restaurant behind the Marina Mall in Abudhabi. Chef Violet introduced us to the history of the Singapore cuisine and then led us to the kitchen, where all the action was going to take place !! She started with the Satay and Peanut sauce. As she was explaining each ingredient I noticed that almost all the ingredients were commonly used in the Indian cuisine… the spices, tamarind, jaggery . The chef then explained to us each process – the dry roasting of spices, pounding them using mortar and pestel , making the marinade and then the peanut sauce… This dish could be easily made at home, I was surely going to try this out !! On to the next item ,the famous Chilli Crab – one of the country’s greatest culinary inventions. This special dish has a sensuous, sweet yet savoury gravy created with a base of chilli and tomato sauces. A few of us tried our hand in cooking this along with the chef .
The Singapore Food Festival aims to introduce Singapore cuisine through its iconic dishes and food products to consumers in the UAE. The food festival is a joint initiative of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the country’s external trade promotion agency, the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA) and LuLu, one of the largest hypermarket operators in the Middle East..
Taking place from 20th February to 3rd March, the two-week festival will serve up a smorgasbord of Singapore taste sensations, cooking demonstrations as well as daily competitions.
At the Singapore Food Festival visitors can expect to widen their culinary horizons with Singapore’s fusion of Asian flavours. More than 20 Singapore food and beverage companies will participate in the Singapore Food Festival, presenting a selection of authentic Singapore cuisine such as ready-to-cook sauces, oodles of noodles, traditional snacks and teas as well as signature dishes like Singapore Chilli Crab and Chicken Rice.
On hand to show just how easy it is to cook authentic Singapore cuisine at home will be celebrity Chef Violet Oon. Dishing out a delicious and modern menu, inspired by iconic Singaporean foods, Chef Oon’s Singapore Food Festival repertoire will include the Singapore Satay, Chilly Crab, Laksa – smooth rice noodles in a spicy coconut broth; and Chicken Rice – succulent bites of chicken served on fragrant rice.
Dubbed Singapore’s Food Ambassador, Violet Oon is one of Singapore’s leading food gurus, and is known as much for her cooking as for her opinions on food.Today, Oon is considered one of the leading authorities on Asian cuisine. She specialises in an array of Singapore cuisines, culled from the nation’s heritage of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. Oon shares her wide knowledge of food in classes as well as in consultancy projects and she most enjoys teaching cooking and bringing joy with her food to people who love to eat.
She is a leading cookbook author in Singapore, having written three books titled Peranakan Cooking, Violet Oon Cooks and A Singapore Family Cookbook. Tasty Singapore Timeless Recipes by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore published in 2007, is one of the most exciting challenges in her career . She has co-authored the Curry Cookbook in German and is also author and recipe tester of the Peninsula Hotel group of Hong Kong’s 1st cookbook called Naturally Peninsula.
Established as a trading port in 1819, Singapore has attracted an influx of migrants and merchants over the years from China, the Malay Peninsula, the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East. Along with their cultures, languages and customs, these migrants brought with them their food traditions that have since shaped Singapore’s culinary landscape.Today, Singapore has transformed into a food paradise abound with a diverse array of flavours from around the region.
Home to a variety of food cultures, Singapore has been dubbed the ‘Melting pot of Asia’. Good for the heart, tummy and soul, some of Singapore’s Chinese fares are the delicious dim sum, roasted meats, chilli crab and double-boiled soups. Another internationally known cuisine found in Singapore is the Indian cuisine. Roti prata, a crispy pancake eaten with curry or sugar and accompanied with a glass of teh tarik, or ‘pulled tea’, which is creamy and frothy milk tea. Just as popular, the local dish nasi biryani, a saffron rice dish with spicy chicken or mutton
For the Malay cuisine in Singapore, spices and herbs are the trademark of their dishes. Some of these include ginger, turmeric, galangal, lemon grass and pungent belachan, which is shrimp paste. Peanut sauce holds a special place in the Malay cuisine as they are used as gravy for dishes and as a dip for the local favourite satay. Other widely popular local Malay fares are also the nasi lemak, coconut steamed rice, and nasi padang, steamed rice mixed with a selection of dishes. Not forgetting the unique Peranakan or Nonya food, the flavours that their food offers are a blend of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian.
One of the most famous Malay dishes in Singapore, Satay is a must-try.
- 1 kg chicken breast
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds or powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds or powder
- ½ tsp fennel seeds or powder
- 5 candlenuts or macadamia nuts (optional) (You can use cashewnuts instead)
- 10 shallots or 1 large red or brown onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 stalk lemongrass, use only the root
- 1 cm slice galangal, or blue ginger
- 1 cm slice fresh ginger root
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 50g brown or palm sugar
- 2 tsp tamarind pulp
- ½ cup water
- 40g to 60g tamarind pulp
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup toasted skinless peanuts, ground till
- fine OR 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
SPICE MIXTURE FOR SATAY SAUCE
- 3 candlenuts or macadamia nuts, washed and drained
- 15 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water till softened
- 3 cloves garlic
- 30g shallots or large red onions
- 1 tsp shrimp paste, or belacan (optional)
- Mix tamarind pulp with water and strain, discard pulp.
- Pound or grind spice mixture until fine.
- Fry spice mixture in hot oil till fragrant.
- Add tamarind liquid and remaining ingredients.
- Boil for 15 minutes, stir well. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
- Dry fry coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds till fragrant and grind till fine.
- Pound or grind candlenuts, shallots, garlic, lemongrass and ginger till fine.
- Mix the tamarind pulp with quarter cup of water, then knead and sieve to remove seeds.
- Mix the sugar with quarter cup of water and dissolve over low heat.
- Mix the shallot mixture with the ground seeds,turmeric powder, tamarind water, sugar syrup and salt.
- Marinade meat in this mixture for 6 hours.
- To grill, skewer 3 pieces of meat on each skewer, brush with oil and BBQ till golden
brown on both sides.
- Serve with satay sauce, cucumbers and sliced raw onions