29 December 2008

Singapore wet markets

December in this part of Southeast Asia is usually gloomy with pregnant clouds hung heavily on one's head. Yet, it couldn't stop me from checking out local wet markets throughout Singapore. Each time, the riots of color, texture and shape shooed away the gloom.

Wet market is my favorite destination whenever I am in this part of the world. It reveals to me the secret of local cuisine (on a trip to a local wet market in Manado I figured out the nine herbs that make the base of North Sulawesi dishes) and tells me the important ingredients for everyday livelihood of the locals (apparently, small dried shrimps are essential for dishes in Singapore. I wonder what they are for. Laksa??).

But most of all, the promise of local fare after a visual feast is the biggest incentive of long walks in these wet markets.

To me, wet markets evoke fond memories of similar trips with my mother in my younger years. Where we lived, the ubiquity of "kangkung" signaled how it was an important vegetable for the population (the dish is known as "Pelecing Kangkung"). My patience in accompanying my mother doing her weekly chore was always rewarded with snacks or "kuih-muih" (see picture above as examples of the kind of "kuih-muih" I would get) and yellow rice with its accompaniments (deer sweetmeat, boiled egg and pieces of chicken in chili sauce known as "Pelecing Ayam"), folded in banana leaves. But perhaps for a Singaporean youngster, they'll get biryani rice such as the following picture.

What strikes me about Singapore's wet markets is the freshness and diversity of vegetables, seafood and poultry on offer. I wish we had similar fresh seafood here where I live....

* in this trip, I visited Westcoast Rd wet market (nearby Lin's apartment), Victoria whole sale market (next to Bugis Junction MRT stop), Little India, and Geylang Serai wet market (next to Paya Lebar MRT stop). My favorite spot is the Geylang Serai, mostly because all the food in the foodcourt is halal.


  1. Upik, this is exactly what I miss from Indonesia. Wet market!

  2. the dried shrimp is used a lot in peranakan recipes. it is also used as "seasoning," (perencah) in many dishes like kangkung belacan, sambal terung, and many vegetable dishes. it is so flavorful that a little goes a long way. we will have to cook with some next time you're in town!