The Eurasians, also known as the Kristangs, are those of both European and Asian parentage. Eurasians in Singapore are mostly of Portuguese, Dutch and British heritage.
Eurasian food, or Kristang cooking, is quintessential fusion food, being an exotic mix of East and West, that has evolved in the kitchens of Eurasian families. While it is influenced by cuisines from the Portuguese, British and the Dutch, it also bears traits of local Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Western ingredients were substituted for local ingredients that were more readily available, while traditional Western dishes that were considered too dull for the Eurasian palate were livened up with chillies, tamarind or vinegar.
Like in Malay or Peranakan cooking, rempah or spice paste plays a huge part in Eurasian cooking. The influence of India is also very strong in Eurasian cooking, as the Portuguese stopped over in Goa before reaching Singapore.
The influence of the British led to the prolific use of crushed soda biscuits to coat meat before deep-frying and to thicken stews. Eurasians are also known for their roasts and stews, and would often add leftover ham and bacon bones to boost the flavours of their gravies. The heavy use of chopped onions and potatoes is another marking of Western influence that Eurasian cuisine bears, making it distinct from other cuisines in Singapore. For example, while Peranakan and Eurasian cuisine both feature the dish ‘pork pongteh‘, a braise of pork belly with fermented soy beans (taucheo), the Eurasian rendition incorporates caramelized onions for a lingering sweetness.
Other examples of well-loved Eurasian dishes include feng, a pig innard stew, and Devil’s curry. Pastries, desserts and bread form a big part of Eurasian food, reflective of European habits. Pang susee is a bun that is eaten during Lent, and sugee cake is typically served during special occasions.
Typical ingredients: spices, tamarind, belacan, chilli, coconut, vinegar, ham, bacon bones, onions, potatoes
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