Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients to make cooking Singaporean at home a breeze.
16 May 2013 - 10:38 AM  UPDATED 9 Jan 2017 - 11:26 AM

Dark soy sauce

Dark soy sauce is light soy that 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 or left whole when making curries or soups.


Chillies (usually red) are an integral ingredient of most dishes, particularly Singaporean chilli crab.


A paste of shrimp that is pressed into a block. It has an unpleasant pungent smell unroasted, but once roasted 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.

Palm sugar

Made from the sap of the palm tree that 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.

Tomato sauce

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

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.

Green mango

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 7,000 years ago, it has a slightly sweet flavour and is similar in texture to potato. It's used in savoury and sweet dishes.

Ikan bilis

Dried anchovies that are 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

A fried dough that is best eaten fresh and hot. Often eaten with a black coffee for breakfast or chopped and added to rojak or Chinese congee for extra crunch.

Cooking at home
Singaporean recipes
Singapore is renowned for its hawker markets, the ultimate destination for experiencing the breadth and depth of the country’s cuisine. From Chinese to Indian to Malaysian to Peranakan or Nonya style cooking, you can get your Singaporean fix at home.