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Surveying Singaporean Street Food

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

It’s no secret that street food is having a moment here in the States. Food carts and specialty trucks now serve some of the most sought-after foods in major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and New York. Sidewalks have become the new sit-down restaurants, and lines often run not one, but two city blocks. But what’s become a novelty on our side of the Atlantic has been a staple of Asian cuisine for centuries. And in Singapore, some of the country’s best food can be found while walking its streets.

In an ode to Singapore’s rich culinary history and unique street food scene, 10 Singaporean chefs have been traveling the world and preparing traditional Singaporean cuisine out of a pop-up mobile kitchen. Set to span 4 continents, and 9 countries, the Singapore Takeout truck made its way to New York City this past week. Were we about to pass up an opportunity to try the famous street food fare? I think not.

48 Hour Short Rib Buah Keluak. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

48-Hour Short Rib: Buah Keluak
Singaporean food benefits from a wide-range of culinary influences. From Malaysian spices to Indian curries and Chinese-inspired cooking methods, its unique cuisine formed more as a coming-together of regional styles than anything else. Emblematic of Peranakan (Chinese-inspired cuisine), Chef Malcolm Lee’s 48-Hour Short Rib showcased the full range of these influences by including sambal (chili relish) and sayur lodeh (coconut curry vegetable stew). Malcolm warned that it was spicy, and with good reason.

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce (pictured at top)
Satay is one of the more familiar Singaporean treats, but when prepared by Spice Market’s Anthony Ricco, one can expect a few clever and creative twists. His version came marinated in a sesame lemongrass sauce, grilled until just tender and served with a peanut sauce scented with tamarind and shrimp paste. Eaten alongside calamansi sticky rice, Chef Ricco’s take on traditional Singaporean Pork Satay was so good it was virtually impossible not to ask for a few extra skewers.

Newton Circus Skate. Photo: Roberto Ferdman

Newton Circus Skate
From small, dainty snacks to high-end lavish meals, hawker centers — street-food food courts — are where most, if not all, of Singapore’s fabled street food is served. Newton Circus, one of Singapore’s major food centers, also happens to be known for its exquisite skate-based dishes. Traditionally rubbed with sambal chili relish and made very, very spicy, Chef Anthony Ricco oven roasted his with a chili glaze and served it alongside a fresh cucumber, mint and lime salad. Singapore’s utmost hawker center would be proud.

If you want to try your hand at Singaporean food at home, we’ve got you covered:
Singapore-Style Noodles
Singapore-Style Chili Crabs
Singaporean Slaw Salad with Salted Apricot Dressing
Singaporean Coffee Ribs
Singaporean Braised Pork Belly

Want to see more food trucks? Check out Eat St.

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