Friday, August 27, 2010

Local Breakfasts - An Imprints Post

This post is my first for's Imprint series which looks at all things memorable from our childhood to old-school things still revered today. To start things off - what breakfasts did you grow up with?

Putu Mayam
Putu mayam
Putu mayam, the South Indian dish of steamed rice flour vermicelli scented with pandan, and served with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. Back in the old days, the sugar for putu mayam was dark brown, like gula Melaka shavings. I reckon it yielded also a richer and more complex sweetness. Today it's this bright orange powdery sugar.

Nasi lemak
You can choose your nasi lemak toppings - here, fried chicken wing, ikan kuning and omelette (all in only S$3.50!)
Nasi lemak is a fond favourite of all races in Singapore. Fragrant coconut rice with spicy sambal chili, fried anchovies and peanuts, a fried egg or omelette, slices of cucumber are the must-have basics. For a more luxurious dish, you can include more toppings like fried chicken wings, otak-otak, fried ikan kuning, or sambal achar. It's long been one of the most convenient "takeaway" food, wrapped in banana leaves (not only does it infuse some flavour, but it is environmentally friendly and biodegradable).

Hakka Abacus Seeds
Hakka abacus seeds
The Hakka made good use of a very hardy and portable root vegetable - the yam - to make "suan pan zi" or abacus seeds. These yam 'gnocchis' are fried with dried shrimp, mushrooms, minced pork and garlic, and topped with fried shallots. It takes skill to get the right bouncy and chewy texture for the yam discs.

Roti Prata
Roti prata
Roti prata is also another dish that's popular with all races. Even in its simplest form of "prata kosong" (empty prata), it is a delicious breakfast. Do you like it with sugar or with curry? Today, the prata has evolved to include many variations and fillings, like mushroom and cheese, banana and honey, and even ice cream! But nothing beats a good old crispy prata kosong for me!

Kaya Toast
Kaya Toast
A good cup of traditional coffee goes so well with a platter of freshly toasted sandwich of kaya (coconut custard jam) and salty butter. For added protein, down it all with some half-boiled eggs dressed with soy sauce and pepper. All best enjoyed in a kopitiam setting, with a morning paper or good company.

Do you remember what breakfast you loved best as a child? Is it different from what you like to eat today?



  1. As a child, breakfast food would most likely be Fishball Mee Pok Tar or economical bee hoon (Egg, Luncheon meat and maybe a chicken cutlet once in a while) and of course prata.

    Today, now with a foot almost in the working world, not much have changed, except with more independence with choosing your food! With an occasion brunch at western places (which also include Macs), my favourites would still be waking up early for those same childhood breakfast places!

  2. My childhood's breakfast memories are of waiting for more than half an hour for that Fishball Mee Pok Tar at a certain Bedok KPT and rounding it up with a glass bottle of Fanta Orange. Cannot forget the sweetness and texture of huge fishballs, kick-ass chilli and crispy fried lard. And oh freshly pan-fried Soon Kueh at Bedok market too! Yums.

    Now breakfast is a slice of bread coupled with my office's computer screen :(

  3. Hey!

    I’m an avid reader of your blog and was wondering if you’ve ever been to any AFC Studio classes?

    I was thinking of attending the September ones coming up. I think it’s some Meat and Oyster Appreciation Class (Separate days) and they’ll be bringing down meat experts like Chef Damon Amos from The Prime Society and Tim Martin from Culina and seafood expert Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo to do the classes.

    Thought you’d be interested! :) You can head to for more info.

  4. Le Marque: childhood favourites will always be special, no matter what! :)

    PY: I can identify with that slice of bread + computer screen! But Fanta Orange conjures up lovely memories!

    Faintsparkles: Thanks! Yes, I have blogged an AFC Masterclass here. And Chef Damon Amos is a great guy! He knows his beef for sure. Haven't met the other two, though heard great things about Gattopardo.

  5. chee cheong fan
    chwee kueh
    wantan mee
    all these are my childhood breakfast..

    now i eat my bkfast(bread) infront of the pc screen every weekday in office..

  6. That is indeed odd. The putu mayam sugar in Malaysia is still dark brown, from the gula melaka used. That bright orange is kinda... scary. :P

  7. Dory: looks like many in the workforce seem to be eating breakfast (mostly bread too) in front of their computers!

    LFB: Yeah, Singapore does a few things quite differently. This kinda reminds me of the bright red mee goreng. First sight was shocking. I don't know if the brown putu mayam sugar is still available here. Anyone?

  8. For me, my childhood - and adulthood - breakfast of choice would be the vegetarian noodles that are done with non-factory processed mock meats which are delicious and healthy. Next would be the fried carrot cake with egg, done with dark soya sauce, that goes straight to the waistline and the arteries but tastes oh so divine!

  9. Haha, still a student, breakfast is always bread bread bread and more bread, with peanut butter, kaya, and rare treats like bacon =/

  10. Aiks, how come the putu mayam now is sprinkled with an orange powder. We're lucky as they still use the brown jaggery shreds here.

    Memories of my childhood - half boiled kampung eggs every morning and occasionally as a treat for us, kaya toast and milo.

  11. you should try this prata place,
    its really really good! :)

    Riyadh Muslim Food
    Blk 32, Defu Lane 10
    Stall 12, Soon Soon Lai Eating House

  12. Great post! I've been trying to look for great Putu Mayam but haven't been too lucky, any suggestions? :]

  13. know any where i can get putu mayam in singapore? long time never eat liao.

  14. Oh my... Just but looking at the pics and not tasting anything yet has given me a Proustian Reverie that brought me back to my childhood. Lovingly stuffed with food to by my Aunts in HDB flats!

    I do miss the deep fried until crispy ikan kuning in Malaysian Nasi Lemak, something that demands urgent attention!

    I used to love having Kali-Png for breakfast. Rice with Char Siew and lean pork curry and curried vegetables which is exclusively found in Singapore. What I miss most is what my Aunts called Kuih Tutu, which is the Singaporean version of putu piring.

  15. Mine is definitely half boiled eggs !!!
    And Horlicks or Milo.
    Everything's on the table, prepared by mum.

    Oh, sometimes the occasional Heong Peng or two.

  16. Too many!!

    Home made ones : half boiled eggs, french toast.

    Others were apom balik, chee cheong fun, nasi lemak, fried noodles, yao char gwai, hum cheem peng and roti canai.

    All above with milo :)

  17. fried rice cooked from the night old rice:)

  18. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike was Additional Blogs Which I Have read are really not good.

    Wine bars in Singapore


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