A Taste Of Home, Truly

A Taste Of Home, Truly featured image

What comes to mind when you think ‘Singapore’?

Maybe it’s our scenic skyline, or the mythical Merlion? At least, those are what lines the shelves of the 3 for $10 souvenir shops across the island. But, who are we really, when tourists can’t visit us anymore? What do we look like when we aren’t translating ourselves to be understood? Our young island-nation has found it difficult to claim any cultural icon to be truly our own. The batik designs that adorn the Singapore Girl are Indonesian and the tiles that line our shophouses are Peranakan. There must be something we can truly call ours.

In searching for the answer, our taste buds lead the way and fill our minds with whatever fills our stomachs. Lately, so many of us have been eager to get on the first flight out of the island, seeking paradise elsewhere. And yet, when we are miles away, we catch ourselves daydreaming of a $4 plate of Char Kway Teow to dig into once the plane touches Changi’s tarmac. It is our food and our people which makes Singapore irreplaceably Singapore. 

This month, let’s slow down on the biscoff and matcha desserts and savour a taste of home, truly.

My heart got filling

Chilli Crab, considered one of Singapore’s unofficial national dishes, finds itself as one of four flavours in @minjianggirl’s savoury box. With stir-fried (real!) crab meat, the sweet and spicy heart-shaped pancake takes the place of the mantou as an accompaniment.

In the same box is a salted egg custard MJK, the salty and sweet relative of liu sha bao. The sweet box, with fillings like Mango Sago, Ondeh-Ondeh and Orh Nee are also an ode to national flavourites that are no stranger to being reinvented. Min Jiang Girl even offers a free bag of the MJK sides that have been cut-off that’ll make for a hearty snack.

Little Red Dots

We’ve seen our classic kopitiam beverages turn into ice cream flavours and milkshakes during this season, but it’s probably the first time you’ve seen them morph into warabi-inspired mochi treats. Unlike regular mochi that is made with glutinous rice, @spudsandsoda’s Warabi Mochi is made with starch that creates a more delicate texture without missing out on the slight chew.

The neatly aligned little red dots on Tori-Q-esque bamboo skewers are actually bandung flavoured Warabi Dango that are bouncy with a QQ texture. Apart from bandung, their local faves set include Kopi-O, Teh-O and Milo mochi. Although your eyes may trick you into expecting something Japanese, you’ll stand corrected once you take your first bite.

National Day Pie-rade

Small and mighty. These mini-pies by @elijahpies are another rendition of local flavours with a modern spin.

For the month of August, they are carrying Pulut Hitam, Kopi Macadamia and Milo Marshmallow pies. Each pie takes you on a journey down memory lane much longer than it’s 3.3cm diameter. The Milo Marshmallow brings you back to the smores made after a barbecue and Pulut Hitam to the secondary school buffet table after an award ceremony.

@elijahpies also embraces a #forsharingonly philosophy, leaving a trail of crumbs that trace back to the Kampong Spirit.

 I Yam Singaporean

A paste of home, truly. A medley of textures and tastes, @kneadedbyhan’s Orh Nee Opera cake has yam paste, pumpkin cremeux, yam chiffon, shallot feuilletine, walnut crumble and candied gingko. Although half of those words sound unfamiliar, your tastebuds will need no translation once you take a bite.

@kneadedbyhan’s knack for reinvention doesn’t stop there – there’s also a cake inspired by Tang Yuan, with black sesame chiffon, peanut cream, peanut mochi cubes, oat crisps, black sesame cream, black sesame mochi and walnut crumble. A dessert every generation can enjoy this National Day.

Flag this Kuki

@kukishop.sg’s bakes clearly don’t fit into any cookie-cutter. Instead, they’ve moulded their own way as Singapore’s first open-faced lava cookie. 

Their National Day specials are unmistakably local with their coconut custard and bandung rose-water lava chocolate making the red and white of the Singapore Flag, barely holding back the ruby couverture chocolate nestled beneath.  Their seasonal specials also include Pandan Gula Melaka and Red Bean Coconut flavours which are such iconic local flavours that they serve as a flag by taste.

A different National Day this year

We might not have expected NDP to be postponed but in the midst of a pandemic, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. What happens when August 9th is no longer celebrated on August 9th? HDB blocks are still decorated with flags, Giordano and Bossini are still stocked with coordinated red and white sets. Somewhere, an argument about how no other NDP song comes close to Kit Chan’s ‘Home’ is being repeated. Families will still strain towards the TV trying to catch a glimpse of a son marching in a contingent. The national pastime is still feasting and our home bakers remind us why that’s true. Let’s get a bake to celebrate her 56th birthday, and let that bake be home-baked in the flavours she loves.

Happy 56th Birthday, Singapore!