Cook like a local Singapore
Olive|August 2021
Experience the heady mix of food cultures that exists in this Southeast Asian city-state
ELIZABETH HAIGH

Singapore – known as the ‘little red dot’ for how it looks on maps – seems small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in diversity, technology and culture.

It’s impossible to pinpoint an exact description for the cuisine as it’s influenced by neighbouring countries (China, Malaysia and Indonesia) and its colonial British past. National dishes include Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak, nonya laksa, satay, sambal, curry and much more. The food is rich in spice and heat thanks to bird’s-eye chillies (chilli padi) and fresh spices and herbs from the wet markets, and gets fragrance from galangal and lemongrass, and salinity from fermented shrimps and tofu made in Malaysian fishing villages. The street food scene is in hawker centres. The vendors are specialists who have cooked one or two dishes for generations. Most street food is sold for under $10, which encourages everyone to eat out two or three times a day. Street food tea shops, or kopitiams, are good for a quick bite. Singapore has a sweet tooth – we enjoy rich coconut jam (kaya) on bread, and kopi (coffee) specialists grind and roast their beans with sugar to serve with condensed milk. Singapore has also embraced its modern side, with cocktail bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and secret hideaway spots popping up – it truly caters to everyone’s tastes.

Barbecue sweetcorn with miso koji butter

We love fresh sweetcorn, so whenever our farm shop has it in season, I light up the barbecue and get these on. The sweetness from the corn matches perfectly with the miso and the salty koji. Don’t worry if you can’t find shio koji – just use a little extra salt to season.

20 MINUTES | SERVES 4 AS A STARTER OR SIDE | EASY

corn on the cob 4, husks and silks removed

unsalted butter 175g, cubed and softened

shio koji paste 1 tbsp (see cook’s notes, below)

white miso ½ tbsp

red chilli 1, deseeded and finely chopped

1 Light a barbecue and wait until the coals are ashen, or heat a grill to high. Cook the corn cobs in a pan of salted boiling water for 1 minute, then drop into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop them cooking further. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2 In a small bowl, mix together the butter, shio koji, miso and chilli until smooth and evenly combined. Alternatively, pulse together in a small food processor. Gently melt the miso butter in a pan over a low heat.

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