Traditional Singapore Breakfast
Ah, the quintessential Singaporean breakfast — toasted bread with kaya and thin slices of butter, kopi, and soft-boiled eggs seasoned with pepper and dark soy sauce. It looks deceptively simple, but this morning ritual of crunching, dunking, and sipping is a great pick me up for the day ahead.
Traditionally, the bread is double-toasted over a charcoal stove. And the smooth, syrupy kopi made with condensed milk and coffee beans roasted in a wok with sugar and margarine, brewed using a thick sock-like filter.
This style of breakfast has been linked to the traditional English breakfast, and its coffee-roasting methods are similar to those found in Portugal and Spain. However, it was a Hainanese connection that introduced these influences to Singapore.
It started with the arrival of Hainanese immigrants in the 19th century. Many of them ended up working in European households and hotels. With the exodus of British residents from Singapore during the Japanese Occupation, many Hainanese set up their own eateries in abandoned shop spaces. These cooks served Asian versions of western foods, including breakfast toast, where fruit jams were replaced with coconut spread (kaya!). Between the 1920s and 50s, the Hainanese carved out a niche in the Kopitiam scene and popularised this style of breakfast.
Shaped by our various influences and evolved to suit our local ingredients and tastes, this breakfast has become a well-loved feature of Singapore living. Can you think of any other “localised” dishes? #FoodForThought
References: Grandturismo travels, Roots.gov.sg (NHB), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution