Saturday, 19 July 2014

Singapore hawker dishes: Teochew porridge

At its most basic, the light bowl of porridge is accompanied by salty and pickled side dishes
A healthy yet salty fishcake to go with the rice porridge

Throw in good seafood, and a Teochew porridge meal isn’t that cheap

Teochew porridge or ‘muay’ is so healthy that it doesn’t seem like a typical hawker dish — in fact, it’s likely as close as one will get to home-cooked food outside your home. Pretty much every food court or hawker centre in Singapore will have an ‘economy rice’ stall — a smorgasbord of meats, fish and vegetable dishes to go with a serving of rice, but not all offer porridge. The ones that do usually come with lots of healthy, steamed dishes to combine with the simple porridge.

What differentiates Teochew porridge from the regular economy rice? The latter usually comes with rich tasting dishes, such as curry chicken and braised meats with heavy gravies, which go well with dry rice and are very filling. Porridge Teochew-style is usually very watery and light, so it goes well with steamed, dry dishes that are cooked simply to bring out the best in the fresh ingredients. The dishes are often very salty or fermented to make up for the blandness of porridge — think salty mustard greens, salted egg, salted fried anchovies and pickles.

Protein options usually involve steaming — steamed squid, fish, tofu and fishcake are some typical finds, and these can help balance out the salt from the other preserved side dishes. Beyond the pickled ones, vegetable dishes of the leafy green variety are not commonly found.

» Singapore hawker dishes: Yong tau foo

» Singapore hawker dishes: Cantonese roast meat
» Singapore hawker dishes: Chicken rice
» Singapore hawker dishes: Char kway teow
» Singapore hawker dishes: Kway chap