A naturally fermented sauce made from ground soya beans, a grain (often wheat) and salt. Light soy sauce is thinner and saltier and used in stir-fries, marinades and as a dipping sauce.
Dark Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce is light soy which has been left to ferment further, which develops the flavour and intensity but reduces the saltiness. It's used in braised dishes like beef rendang and also in the dressing of rojak salad and adds a rich caramel brown colour to food.
A tall, bulbous grass with a fragrant, creamy interior. It can be used finely ground in spice pastes, left whole and bruised or tied in a knot when making curries and soups.
Large or small but usually red, chillies are an integral ingredient of most dishes, especially Singaporean chilli crab.
This is a paste of shrimp which is pressed into a block. It has an awful smell, but once roasted the odour isn't as strong and the paste adds a beautiful depth of flavour to many dishes. Cut a small amount from block, wrap in foil and place in a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs. Then cool and crumble.
Made from the sap of the palm tree, which is boiled down and concentrated into moist sugar, it can range from dense bark brown to a light honey coloured shade. It's best grated for easy use.
Coconut Cream and Milk
Coconut cream and milk is made by grating the coconut flesh with water, then straining and pressing it. The cream is from the first extraction and is thicker. More water can then be added to the coconut flesh and pressed a second time to produce the lighter coconut milk.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is used for richness and sweetness in sauces when no further chilli is desired. It's an integral part of the sauce for Singapore chilli crab.
Also known as water spinach, this crunchy, hollow-stemmed green with long, pointed leaves is usually stir-fried as a crunchy side dish with belacan.
Yam / Bean Sargot / Bung Kwong
Yam / Bean Sargot / Bung Kwong is a pale brown tuber, yam bean has a white, crisp and slightly sweet flesh that is used most notably in popiah, a type of spring roll or finely sliced in rojak. It is also known as jicama.
Unripe and finely shredded, green mango adds a crunch and slightly tart flavour to salads including the crunchy fresh rojak, beloved of hawker stalls.
Brown skinned and covered in rough ridges, taro is a corn with white, pink or purple flesh. Thought to have been originally cultivated more than 7000 years ago, it has a slightly sweet flavour and is similar in texture to potato. It's used in savoury and sweet dishes.
Dried anchovies eaten mainly as a snack, either on their own with sambal or cooked with peanuts. A great accompaniment for drinks.
Yau Jar Kwai / Crispy Crueller
Yau Jar Kwai / Crispy Crueller is a fried dough best eaten fresh and hot .Have with a black coffee for breakfast or chopped and added to rojak or Chinese congee for extra crunch.