We have a bit of news to start with. Those who follow us on Instagram might have noticed that many of our recent posts are Singapore-based. In fact, the Italian half of the blog (ironically) is going to be based in Singapore for an indefinite amount of time. This will mean painful missions to find Italian ingredients to keep up with traditional recipes. But it will also mean a lot of foodie travel posts (hopefully) and frequent posts on culinary curiosities about this city, which really is all about food!
It’s the week before Easter, and if I had all my kitchen utensils with me I would probably make you a lamb roast, or some delicious Torta Pasqualina. But instead, while my kitchen is still on its way here, I’m gonna talk to you about toast. Coming from London, where we even have a cereal bar, it shouldn’t have surprised me so much when I noticed there were cafes and chains everywhere selling mainly toast. Yet, it tickled my curiosity! Soon I discovered that an important part of the traditional Singaporean breakfast is kopi and kaya toast. These come in sets, like mini breakfast menus, and there are various types you can choose from. But first let’s cover the basics.
Kopi vs Coffee
Kopi is the local coffee and is served in any kopitiam (or kopi tiam) which literally means coffee shop. By ordering kopi, you get a cup of coffee with condensed milk, which is a very different taste from what an Italian coffee drinker like myself is used to. But if well made, it’s a very easy taste that grows on you. Condensed milk is sweet and the kopi has a velvety texture to it. If you don’t like this version, there are real guides on the internet on how to order coffee in Singapore, which is very helpful, like this one by Daneshd.
Kaya is a traditional spread in Malaysia and Singapore, made of coconut, sugar, and eggs. Some coffee shops in Singapore even make their own and it is possible to find kaya at the supermarket and even at night food markets. You can also find kaya made with other ingredients, such as pandan in the hanianese version. The typical kaya is usually of a yellow-green colour and has a thick, custardy texture. That is the one a kopi tiam will serve you in your set.
First of all, it’s important to clarify that a set includes kopi, kaya toast of your preference, and two boiled eggs. They can be hard boiled, if you prefer so, but the tradition is to soft boiled them in a slow simmering process so they are very soft and gloppy when you place them in your bowl. Once in the bowl, add salt or soy sauce to make it a very gooey light brown mixture. Take your kaya toast and dip it into this eggy bliss and enjoy the blend of flavours! I must admit that without this step by step article by Walk Fly Pinoy I wouldn’t have known what to do, so thank you!
Single slice and double slice kaya toast set
The single and double slice kaya toast is your typical toasted sandwich, with a layer of kaya jam in the middle and a thin slice of salted butter, so the consistency of the jam becomes even more custardy. The difference between the two is that the double slice is either made, as aptly named, with two slices of bread or with very thick bread. My very first kaya breakfast was the simple single slice at the chain Toast Box where I discovered this amazing world of kaya breakfast, under the amused eyes of the gentleman who served me.
Crispy vs steamed
I very much look forward to trying these variations. One is called cracker kaya: it can be ultra-crispy, double toasted thinly cut bread, or it can be a sandwich made of crackers. Crunchy heaven! The other, steamed kaya, is pretty much its opposite: steamed warm bread, still with your layer of coconut jam to enrich it. I imagine this being amazing dipped into the soft boiled eggs!
French and Bun
These two variations are the richest, one being french toast, served with kaya and butter on the side, to be spread at your discretion. I tried this version at Killiney and it was very delicious! I found their kopi also a lot tastier than the Toast Box version. Given that the french toast is already eggy, I didn’t ask for a set – I thought it would be better to go easy on my cholesterol!
The bun version, which seems typical at a restaurant called Chin Mee Chin, is just like the toast version, but instead of toasted bread, it is served on brioche buns…doesn’t that sound marvellous? I guess I’m due a trip to try a set soon!
P.S. The Spanish might think that toast is perfectly on theme for Easter: discover this Honest Cooking’s beautiful recipe for Torrijas.Follow @blenderbasil