Learning > Recipes

Make hawker food at home

This long weekend, chef Ambrose Poh of Allspice Institute cooking school shows Barbara Koh how to make much-loved hawker dishes and they are easier to cook than you think

Barbara Koh on 11 Aug 2019

The Straits Times


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For the carrot cake


  • 500g white radish, peeled and grated
  • 300ml water
  • 150g rice flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil


For frying


  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbs sweet chai poh (preserved radish), chopped (add more, if preferred)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs chilli sambal and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Chopped spring onions and coriander leaves for garnishing




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


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


3. Pour mix into a cake tray and steam on high for 45 minutes. 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.


4. Chop up chunks of radish cake to prepare 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, sambal and pepper, if preferred. Fry to coat evenly with seasoning.


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


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


Serves four. To make the dark carrot cake version, add 2 Tbs dark sweet sauce together with the fish sauce in step 4.





For the chicken


  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 pieces fresh ginger, sliced and smashed 3 litres water
  • 1.2kg whole chicken
  • For the chicken rice
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups, chicken stock


For the chilli sauce


  • 4 fresh red chillies, chopped
  • 4 fresh chilli padi
  • 1 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs hot chicken fat


For the soya-sesame gravy


  • 2 Tbs light soya sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp chicken seasoning
  • 4 Tbs sesame oil
  • Sliced cucumber and tomatoes for garnishing
  • Black sweet sauce, if preferred




1. For the chicken: Add salt, ginger and water 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 minutes, 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 minutes, take out the chicken and return water to a boil. This time, put in chicken and continue to simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Let chicken stand in hot broth, covered and undisturbed, until just cooked through (15 minutes).


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


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


6. For the chicken rice: Heat up oil in a frying pan. Cook shallots over moderate heat, stirring until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.


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


8. For the chilli sauce: Pulse the chilli sauce ingredients to a coarse paste in a mini food processor. Set aside.


9. For soya-sesame gravy: Mix together soya 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.


Serves four





  • 2 Tbs cooking oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bashed
  • 2 cups prawn stock or ikan bilis stock
  • 1 Tbs laksa leaves, chopped, save stalks
  • 1 cup coconut milk, as required
  • 2 Tbs dry shrimp, soaked and blended
  • 150 to 200g laksa noodles or brown rice noodles, blanched and drained
  • 50g bean sprouts, blanched and drained
  • 1 fried fish cake, sliced
  • 6 prawns, cooked
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste


For the Nonya laksa rempah


  • 100g (8) shallots, peeled
  • 80g (4) red chillies
  • 5 dried chillies, soaked in hot water
  • 12g blue ginger, peeled
  • 15g fresh turmeric root
  • 15g garlic, peeled
  • 20g (4) candle nuts
  • 3 chilli padi, as required
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
  • 1 Tbs belachan




1. For the Nonya laksa rempah: Blend the rempah ingredients in a food processor. When ready to cook, add cooking oil into a wok. Add lemongrass and rempah and saute slowly on medium heat. When fragrant, the paste will turn darker in colour and the oil will separate from the rempah, indicating it is cooked.


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


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


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


5. Garnish with chopped laksa leaves, hard-boiled egg and sambal belachan, if preferred.


Serves two


•These recipes first appeared in the August 2019 issue of The Singapore Women's Weekly.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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