Chinese Heritage Cooking
By Christopher Tan and Amy Van


Most of those who made up the early Chinese diaspora left the mainland for economic reasons. Having left behind everything that was familiar, they would create their own communities, congregating with those who spoke the same dialect and had similar tastes in food.

Chinese immigrants to Singapore mainly consisted of five groups: Hokkien, Cantonese, Chiu Chow, Hainanese and Hakka, and they greatly influenced the cuisine of the Lion City. Many of the dishes that food-obsessed tourists travel to Singapore for - such as Hainan chicken rice, bak kut teh, char kway teow and fish-ball noodles - have Chinese origins.

In Chinese Heritage Cooking, Christopher Tan and Amy Van do a good job of explaining the Chinese influence on Singaporean cuisine. They give the history of Chinese in Singapore, write about their traditions and festivals and explain how the immigrants adapted their cuisine to local ingredients and the tastes of the people they were now living among.

The book has recipes for all the dishes you'd expect, plus some unusual ones, such as abacus beads (taro and tapioca starch dumplings cooked with dried seafood, garlic and shallots); fish head curry; pork steamed with salted shrimp sauce; oyster omelette and yu sheng (raw fish salad traditionally eaten during the Lunar New Year).