We all have our own ideas about what makes the best Rojak.
Some say it’s the ratio of ingredients — more dough fritters, jambu or pineapple — and others fixate on the sauce — a sticky, black substance made of fermented prawn paste, sugar, lime, and chilli paste. Some may add a second handful of chopped peanuts for good measure, while others hold off on the coriander or chilli. We often eat it out of a paper plate with long, wooden picks. Simple, practical, and without frills.
The humble fruit rojak, a staple in our hawker centres and food courts, has gained fans beyond our shores, and is well loved by locals and tourists alike. It was mentioned in the 2016 Michelin Guide, and Hoover Rojak, on Balestier Road, was awarded a Bib Gourmand that year.
The rojak tells a story of inspired craftsmanship in pairing opposing flavours and textures that complement one another — making the whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
“Rojak” means “mixed” in Malay, and its history reflects how different elements come together. A fruit rojak by any other name, whether rujak buah in Indonesia or rojak buah in Malaysia, may come in different combinations but what’s identifiable is that combined flavour of sweet, sharp, spicy, and sour
Rojak is often used to represent Singapore’s eclectic cultural mix because, unlike a homogenised broth, its appeal comes from having different flavours, united by a distinctive sauce. That speaks too of the connections we have with our neighbours and region. A heritage of diversity, variety, and finding harmony in the disparate that is mixed — quite literally — into our dishes. #FoodForThought