Discover Singaporean cuisine with local clay miniaturist Jocelyn Teo
Singapore is so small, you can barely spot the Southeast Asian city-state on a map. No wonder the sunny island is nicknamed the ‘Little Red Dot’, after the red dot often used to identify Singapore’s location on world maps.
But what the tiny country lacks in size, it makes up for in flavour. Singapore is passionate about food. Just take a stroll through any local eatery to discover tables laden with aromatic curries, savoury fried noodles, spicy chilli crab and frosty cups of iced lime juice to wash it all down on a hot day.
How best to describe Singapore and its food culture?
Perhaps the idiom “good things come in small packages” is fitting. And no one would understand that better than Singaporean artist Jocelyn Teo (@aiclay on Instagram). Standing at 150 cm (just shy of 5 feet), Teo spends her days creating lay sculptures of local delights such as Hainanese chicken rice, tangy achar, and roti prata. Her bite-sized creations are so small, they could be balanced on one fingertip.
In her own words:
I’m a small person, from a small country, and guess what, I make terribly small items.”
- Jocelyn Teo, owner of AiClay
A self-professed foodie, Teo’s intricate works capture the essence of Singaporean cuisine. From the charred, smoky texture of her satay (complete with a tempting slick of oil, of course) to the fluffiness of her nostalgia-inducing ice cream sandwiches, what better way to explore the food culture of the Little Red Dot than through the work of a local artist?
Possibly Singapore’s most iconic dish, Hainanese chicken rice is available in hawker centres and food courts island-wide. This satisfying lunch or dinner meal consists or poached or roasted chicken upon a bed of fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth. Top it off with garlic, chilli and oyster sauce, then wash it down with an accompanying bowl of chicken soup.
Prata is the go-to late night meal for Singaporeans, but makes for a delicious snack at any time of day. The South Indian flatbread is tossed and fried until it is crispy and flaky on the outside, and soft and comforting on the inside. Order it plain, or with any variety of fillings from savoury (eggs, mushrooms, cheese) to sweet (banana, sugar, chocolate). Prata is always served with a side of curry, so save your last piece to mop it all up.
Smoky, grilled meat skewers are the perfect way to enjoy a balmy Singaporean evening after a day of sightseeing. Enjoy a generous pile of lamb, chicken or beef satay with sweet peanut dipping sauce to complement the satay’s savoury flavour. The taste will stay with you long after you leave Southeast Asia.
Kueh are enjoyed throughout Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. These sweets come in all the colours of the rainbow, and reflect quintessential Southeast Asian tastes with ingredients such as glutinous rice, coconut, and indulgent gula melaka. So well-loved are these desserts that they make an appearance at most major Singaporean holidays, such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. But thankfully, kueh can be enjoyed year-round.
Be sure to order a comforting cup of teh tarik during your time in Singapore. Teh tarik, literally ‘pulled tea’ in Malay, is a frothy mixture of black tea and condensed milk. Watch your brewer expertly ‘pull’ the teh by pouring the hot mixture from one cup to another from a great distance, simultaneously cooling and mixing the beverage.