Singapore’s Street Food – Pasir Panjang Food Centre

It is true that eating is a sport and national past time in Singapore. In a multicutural society like this tropical island, there are literally hundreds of dishes available… So what is Singapore food? In a manner of speaking, Singapore food is a cocktail of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nonya, plus an aspersion of Eurasion and western flavours thrown in for orgasmic feeding pleasure!

Gong Gong is a kind of mollusc we eat with sambal dip.

Gong Gong is a kind  of edible conch, sea snail, whelk in the mollusk family that we eat as appetizer.

Similar to eating escargots in the European community, Gong Gong, tropical marine gastropod mollusks with light coloured shells and edible flesh, needs to be fished out of its curved shell. Bamboo skewers are provided for this – you just have to gently pierce it in the flesh and follow the bend. The most common prepartion is to boil them in hot water. The texture is not too rubbery and they are usually eaten with a spicy chilli padi dip.

There's a sharp hard shell attached which cannot be eaten.

The hard tip attached to the flesh is discarded after dipping and popping into the mouth.

Canned pork leg with chestnuts fried rice sticks.

Canned pork leg with chestnuts fried rice sticks.

This unpretentious rice noodle dish is a fail-safe Hokkien home-style cuisine mainly because the bee hoon is cooked with canned pork trotters which guarantees flavour, flavour, and more flavour! See my Char Bee Hoon recipe and substitute the canned stewed pork for canned pork trotters and cooked till moist not dry and fluffy. Use mustard greens & beanshoots instead of cabbage & carrots and omit the dried prawns. The stallholder had prepared this dish very well and I loved that they served this with pickled green chillies.

A local favourite. They are not fried till dry and fluffy but rather moist and yummy.

A local favourite. They are not fried till dry and fluffy but rather moist and yummy.

Keeping stock and temperature control is a logistic skill for this hawker.

Temperature control is a logistic skill for this hawker to keep ready stock available.

We all have eaten barbecued chicken wings (unless you’re vegan) but there’s grilled chicken wings and then there’s grilled chicken wings. Singapore’s infamous charcoal grilled chicken wings belong to the latter. What’s so special when the simple Asian marinade is made up of humble ingredients like ginger and garlic juice, light soy, honey or malt, pepper, sesame oil and if the cook is generous enough, a hint of Chinese rice wine? Well… let’s just say you have to eat it, to appreciate it! Not all chefs are grill masters 😉

Charcoal grilled to perfection. Timing is important so as not to dry out the meat.

Charcoal grilled to perfection in paced stages so as not to dry out the meat.

Be prepared to use your hands when it comes to wings. Squeeze calamansi lime over the wings and eat it with the citrusy chilli dipping sauce served on the side. Lick your fingers and proceed with another joint.

Malay style satay - mutton and chicken with ketupat (compressed rice cakes).

Above is Malay style satay – mutton and chicken served with ketupat (compressed rice cakes).

Satay is seasoned slivers of meat usually chicken, beef, mutton (and pork, if sold by Chinese vendors – sometimes seafood and now ostrich meat even!) skewered on bamboo sticks and charcoal grilled. While some Indonesians eat them with kicap manis, chopped shallots and chilli padi,  Singaporeans prefer the sweet and spicy peanut dipping sauce. They are served with wedges of red onions, cucumbers and side orders of ketupat, which is compressed rice. Rice is wrapped in woven palm leaf pouches and boiled in water. As  the grains cook, they expand to fill the pouch thus the rice becomes compressed. This unique method of cooking gives the ketupat its characteristic form and texture of a packed rice dumpling.

Satay - bammboo skewered grilled meats served with ketupat (compressed rice).

Satay is such a favourite food in Singapore we now have a food centre named after it – Satay by the Bay.

Satay’s humble origin in Singapore was an “al fresco” dining event with most satay operators opened for business only after dark. With the formation of Satay Club (now defunct) defining how satays should be served, we now find this delicacy across the island from hawker stalls, modern food courts, upscale restaurants and even hotel cafes, any time of the day.

Eaten with spicy and sweet peanut sauce.

Chicken satay dipped into spicy and sweet peanut sauce. You won’t stop at one.

French, runner or string beans fried with dried shrimps and belachan chilli.

French green beans, runner beans or string beans – fried with dried shrimps and belachan chilli.

Another cheap way to eat street restaurant food is to have them in hawker centres from stalls serving BBQ Seafood. They are very similar to Cze Char restaurants, are usually cheaper but not necessarily so. Popular dishes like sambal stingray, sambal sotong (picture below), the quintessential Chinese stir-fried vegetables, and most of the usual fare served in those street restaurants can be found in the stalls. We ordered some white rice and ate them with the fried sambal string beans, sambal sotong and garlic steamed prawns. The home-made sambal from Alan seafood was delicious and I was quite happy with my fill.

Sambal sotong (squid) cooked teppanyaki style with red onions.

Sambal sotong (squid) cooked teppanyaki style with red onions.

Fresh prawns are important when it comes to steaming.

Very very fresh prawns are important when it comes to steaming.

Steamed prawns with garlic.

Steamed prawns with garlic.

Prawns are expensive in Singapore and eating live prawns are reserved for special occasions. We normally consume chilled or frozen ones. I must admit that although the prawns were firm here, they’ve lost the ocean freshness and natural sweetness. I know better to order steam prawns next time at these stalls. It is better to eat sweet and sour, sambal, salted egg yoke, butter or cereal prawns to compensate the lost of flavour from these frozen crustaceans.

Ice kachang - local dessert.

Ice kacang – local dessert.

Ice kacang is an old school street dessert consisting of a delicious mountain of hand-shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar) and brightly coloured sugar syrup, evaporated milk and boiled red beans (kachang – beans). Like many of its contemporary foods, ice kachang has become elitist and inked the menu of up-market restaurants and hotel coffee houses. The diversity of the ingredients has also expanded from just azuki beans to creamy sweetcorns, attap chee (palm seeds), chin chow (immortal grass jelly), agar agar jelly cubes to more sophisticated ones like nato de coco, aloe vera cubes, basil seeds, canned cocktail fruits, ice cream and even fresh mango or durian pulps! The ice are no longer hand-shaved but churned out by motorised ice machine.

When the ice melts...

When the ice melts…

My friends Paul, Saw and Nancy had a hysterical time when I took so many shots of the Ice Kachang that it melted and I had no choice but to submit this not so “towering” shaved ice dessert photo 😦

Sea coconut dessert.

Sea coconut dessert and crystal tadpoles jelly dessert.

The brown slivers are Coco de Mer or more commonly known as sea coconut in Singapore. The fruit originates from Seychelles way before she was inhabitated and is therefore also known as Maldives Coconut, besides other names like Love Nut and Double Nut. This unique double coconut  has earned itself an archaic botanical name, Lodoicea callipyge Comm. ex J. St.-Hil., in which callipyge is from the Greek words meaning ‘beautiful buttocks’ for resembling a woman’s buttocks! As for those tiny colourful beads… I supposed every woman needs accessories, lol…

Ferry terminal.

Pasir Panjang distripark and ferry terminal.

Non touristy food centre.

Non touristy food centre – transit Pasir Panjang MRT.

Overall, I think it has been a wonderful dinning experience. There’s no touting like Newton Food Centre. Do be prepared to be infused in the steamy, smoky environment and perhaps even weather the rain should they pour, like we did tonight.

Pasir Panjang Food Centre, Singapore.

Pasir Panjang Food Centre, Singapore.

Pasir Panjang Food Centre.
Address:121 Pasir Panjang Road,
Singapore 118543.
Transit: Pasir Panjang MRT.

Happy dining 🙂

16 Responses to “Singapore’s Street Food – Pasir Panjang Food Centre”
  1. You are killing me! All the time you are torturing me with the delicacies that I can’t get! Argh!

    • Sam Han says:

      Some recipes for these food can be found easily in my other posts or online. Have some fun in the kitchen 😀 Happy Easter, Pastor Ashcraft and family!

  2. Itanni says:

    These pictures are amazing! The food looks delicious and fascinating. I love those bubble things on the coconut dessert. What are they called?

  3. Sam says:

    This post has made me so excited to visit Singapore! x

  4. The sight and smell of satay and ice kaching is like the sight and smell of the sea – you know you are home.

    On a side note, I was mildly famous once in Ipoh for the number of sticks of satay I ate. It was my first exposure to Chinese manners. I thought I had to eat everything on my plate to be polite – but my hosts, when they saw I ate everything on my plate, thought I was still hungry and brought more.

    You might consider a post on Chinese Vs Western eating manners sometime. Though of course a problem is “which western”. Scottish is v different from Italian.

  5. Melisa R says:

    You take the most beautiful pictures. I wish I were able to go to Singapore. The food looks absolutely amazing and I love street food!

    • Sam Han says:

      Thank you very much for your encouraging comments. I just owned a decent camera this february (gift from my daughter) and am learning to use it 🙂

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