Love For Local

We show you how to make these much-loved hawker dishes and they’re easier than you think!

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

When we talk about hawker food, what do we most love to eat? These dishes won the team’s votes and then we asked Chef Ambrose Poh, of Allspice Institute cooking school, to share the recipes with us. Allspice Institute offers cooking classes as well as teambuilding sessions, and we’ve had our Domestic Diva Masterclasses at the school, too. A Peranakan, Chef Ambrose has cooked for dignitaries and royalty, so you know these dishes are going to be scrumptious. You can use your SkillsFuture credits to widen your cooking repertoire. For more, visit 

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 Prep 30 mins | Cook 1½ hours | Serves 4


 500 g white radish, peeled and grated

 150 g rice flour

 300 ml water

 1 tsp salt

 2 tbsps vegetable oil 1 tsp white pepper powder


 2 tbsps sweet chai poh (preserved radish), chopped (add more, if preferred)

 3 eggs, lightly beaten 3 cloves garlic, chopped 3 tbsps vegetable oil 1 tsp fish sauce

 1 tbsp chilli sambal and pepper to taste

 Chopped spring onion and coriander leaves for garnishing


 1. RADISH CAKE Fry grated radish in a pot (or non-stick pot) and add 50 ml water. Cook for about 15 mins, or until radish turns translucent.

 2. Combine rice flour, salt and 250 ml of water into the radish and cook till mixture is thick. The final mixture should resemble a somewhat pasty coleslaw.

 3. Pour mixture into a cake tray and steam on high for 45 mins. Leave it until completely cooled so that the radish cake firms up and is easy to cut. This is best done a day ahead and kept in the fridge to allow it to set and make it easier to cut up.

 4. Chop up chunks of radish cake to prep them for frying. In a non-stick skillet, heat oil and fry radish cake till lightly browned and slightly crisp. Add minced garlic and chai poh. Fry till aromatic. Drizzle a little more oil if it is too dry. Add fish sauce, pepper and sambal, if preferred. Fry to coat evenly with seasoning.

 5. Pour beaten eggs all over radish cake. Allow the eggs to set slightly, about 3 mins, before flipping over in sections. Fry for another 3 mins.

 6. Sprinkle generously with spring onions and coriander leaves. Serve.

TIP: To make the dark carrot cake version, simply add 2 tbsps dark sweet sauce together with the fish sauce in Step 4.

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 Prep 15 mins | Cook 40 mins | Serves 4


 1.2 kg whole chicken

 2 tsps salt

 3 L water

 3 pieces fresh ginger, sliced and smashed


 4 fresh red chillies, chopped 4 fresh chilli padi

 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

 1⁄2 tsp salt

 2 tbsps fresh lime juice 1 tbsp hot chicken fat


 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained

 4 shallots, thinly sliced 2 large garlic cloves, minced 2 tbsps vegetable oil

 41⁄2 cups chicken stock SOY-SESAME GRAVY

 2 tbsps light soy sauce

 4 tbsps sesame oil

 2 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves 2 tsps sugar

 2 tsps chicken seasoning Sliced cucumber and tomatoes, for garnishing

 Black sweet sauce, if preferred


 1. CHICKEN Add salt and ginger into a 10-litre pot wide enough to hold the chicken. When water is boiling put chicken breast down, turn off the heat and cover.

 2. After 5 mins, take out the chicken and return water to a boil. Put in the chicken, this time back down, turn off heat and cover.

 3. After 5 mins, take out the chicken again and return water to a boil.

 This time, put in chicken and continue to simmer, partially covered, 20 mins. Let chicken stand in hot broth, covered and undisturbed, until just cooked through, 15 mins.

 4. Let broth drain from chicken cavity into pot, transfer chicken to a large bowl of ice and cold water, to stop the cooking. Reserve broth for rice and soup.

 5. Cool chicken completely, turning once. Drain chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into serving pieces and set aside.

 6. CHICKEN RICE Heat up oil in a fry pan. Cook shallots over moderate heat, stirring, until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 min.

 7. Add shallots, garlic and oil to rice in rice cooker. Mix gently. Add 3 cups reserved chicken broth. Cook rice.

 8. CHILLI SAUCE Pulse all the chilli sauce ingredients to a coarse paste in mini food processor. Set aside.

 9. SOY-SESAME GRAVY Mix together soy sauce, sugar, chicken seasoning and sesame oil. Set aside.

 10. To serve, drizzle gravy over chicken. Serve chicken with cucumber and tomato slices, and individual bowls of rice and chilli sauce. Serve the broth as soup.


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 Prep 40 mins | Cook 10 mins | Makes 12


 250 g plain flour

 70 g butter, margarine or olive oil spread

 60 ml warm water

 1⁄4 tsp salt

 1 L vegetable oil for deep frying


 200 g chicken meat, diced 200 g potatoes, diced small 2 boiled eggs, sliced into sixths 100 g white onion, diced small 2 tbsps ginger, minced

 1 tbsp garlic, minced

 3 tbsps meat curry powder 2 tbsps cooking oil

 1 tsp chicken seasoning

 1 cup coconut milk

 1 cup water


 1. FILLING Heat oil and fry onion, garlic and ginger gently until golden brown.

 2. Add in chicken, potatoes and curry powder. Mix in 6 tbsps water into paste. Mix well and cook till potatoes are soft, about 20 mins. Leave aside to cool.

 3. PASTRY Mix flour with butter, water, salt, and knead well until a soft dough is formed. Let it rest for 30 mins in the fridge.

 4. Roll dough into a cylinder of about 4 cm in diameter. Then cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into 3-mm thick circles to about 8 cm in diameter. Let rest for 30 mins.

 5. Place a tablespoonful of filling and slice of egg within each circle of dough and fold over with pastry to make a semi-circle. Pull and fold to crimp the edges. Chill in the fridge for 15 mins.

 6. Heat up oil in a pot. When oil is hot (test by putting a wooden chopstick into the oil – you should see a stream of bubbles rising from the tip of the chopstick), deep fry puffs till pastry is golden (see tip). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

TIP: Crispy epok epok trick: When your puffs start to lightly brown, scoop them up with a mesh strainer. Hold them out of the oil for about 5 secs, then place them back into the oil. After about 3 mins, repeat. The third time, pull out the golden, crispy puffs and serve.

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 Prep 20 mins | Cook 15 mins | Serves 2

 150 to 200 g laksa noodles or brown rice noodles, blanched and drained

 50 g bean sprouts, blanched and drained

 1 hard-boiled egg

 6 prawns, cooked

 1 fried fi sh cake, sliced 1 tbsp laksa leaves, chopped, save stalks

 2 tbsps dry shrimp, soaked and blended

 1 stalk lemongrass, bashed 2 cups prawn stock or ikan bilis stock 1 cup coconut milk, as required 1⁄2 tsp salt, to taste 1 tsp coriander powder


 100 g (8) shallots, peeled

 80 g (4) red chillies

 5 dried chillies, soaked in hot water

 12 g blue ginger, peeled

 15 g fresh turmeric root 15 g garlic, peeled

 20 g (4) candle nuts 3 chilli padi, as required

 2 lemongrass, sliced

 1 tbsp belachan


 1. NONYA LAKSA REMPAH Blend all the rempah ingredients in a food processor. When ready to cook, add cooking oil into a wok. Saute the rempah slowly on medium heat. When fragrant, the paste will turn darker in colour and the oil will separate from the rempah. This indicates it is cooked.

 2. In a pot, add in prawn stock, laksa paste and laksa leaf stalks to simmer for 20 mins.

 3. Add the coconut milk and dry shrimp to cook for further 10 mins, turn off heat and discard the lemongrass and laksa leaf stalks.

 4. Place the blanched bean sprouts and noodles, sliced fish cake and prawns in a bowl. Pour the laksa gravy over the noodles.

 5. Garnish with chopped laksa leaves, egg and sambal belachan.

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 Prep 10 mins | Cook 25 mins | Makes 6

 200 g small pearl sago

 2 L water


 100 g palm sugar or Gula Melaka 2 tbsps sugar

 3 fresh pandan leaves

 2 pinches salt

 3 tbsps water

 6 tbsps coconut cream


 1. Bring water to a fast boil and pour in sago. Let it boil on high for 5 to 7 mins and keep stirring. Turn off heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave for 10 mins.

 2. The sago will fi nish cooking in the pot and the grains will become clear. Pour sago into a mesh sieve. Run cold water through, to remove excess starch. Continue till the sago balls are smooth and not sticky. Pour into one large mould or small cups. Place in the fridge.

 3. GULA MELAKA SYRUP To make the syrup, chop palm sugar into small pieces. Put into a small saucepan with the water, pandan leaves, sugar and salt. Heat gently until melted. Strain through a fine sieve or tea strainer.

 4. To serve, turn the sago pudding out of their moulds. Let them sit out of fridge for about 10 mins. Drizzle with coconut milk and Gula Melaka Syrup or serve these on the side in separate jugs.