Monday, 17 March 2008

Singapore Kaya toast for World Breakfast Challenge

When Caitlin at The Gooseberry Fool came up with the Global Breakfast Tournament, I was excited at the prospect of taking part and showcasing something special from Singapore. Then I had the problem of deciding what to submit as a breakfast entry to represent Singapore. As a multi-ethnic country, there is a huge variety of breakfast items that Singaporeans have for breakfast, ranging from dim sum and fried bee hoon to nasi lemak and roti prata.

I eventually settled on kaya toast for my entry. I like kaya toast for the blend of taste and influence that is is a fusion of western style toast with Southeast Asian taste. The toast is often served with one or two soft boiled eggs in a saucer, with dark soy sauce and white pepper added to taste. The toast is then dipped into the egg mixture and eaten, rather like boiled eggs and soldiers. Given that soy sauce and pepper are the namesakes of this website, how could I not go for this breakfast? And finally, I recently came back from from Singapore with a jar of the famed Ya Kun Kaya so I might as well dig in!

A typical Singaporean kaya toast breakfast consists of kaya toast, soft-boiled egg and a cup of tea - I like mine with fresh milk and a little sugar (I wonder how many of my readers know what is 'teh si siew dai') It doesn't look particularly impressive, especially compared with the other entries, but I think its origins, the specific way that it is cooked and put together and its nostalgic significance to many Singaporeans render it a worthy contender.

Kaya toast breakfast 2

Kaya is an essential ingredient in this breakfast. It is a jam made from eggs, coconut milk, pandan (screwpine) leaves and sugar. Yup, I did mention that it is fusion. It tastes like a sweet egg custard. You can find a recipe for making kaya here.

Kaya toast breakfast 1

Instead of the denser brown bread, white bread without crust is used for the toast in order to get that light crispy texture. Each thick slice is placed on a grill until slightly browned and crisp, and then sliced thinly in half horizontally. That takes skill (and a sharp knife), which was why I destroyed a couple of slices in the process! The toasted slices are then spread with kaya and then sandwiched with little pats of butter within. This is no diet food. The sweetness of the kaya and savoury butter go together surprisingly well. The toasted white bread complements the rich taste with a light and crunchy texture.

Kaya toast breakfast 3

The soft boiled egg is also quite specific. Unlike the ones served in egg cups, the egg is only just set. Undercooked, according to my husband, who likes his soft boiled eggs overcooked (in my opinion). Add a few drops of dark or light soy sauce and a dash of white pepper, break up the golden yolk and mix it around a bit, and dip a piece of your sweet and savoury toast into the eggy goodness. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Kaya toast breakfast 4


Ling's Passion said...

I love toast with kaya, butter and half boiled eggs too. Perfect with a cup of local black coffee.

Little Corner of Mine said...

A cup of kopi O and kaya toast, something so simple yet can be so satisfying.

missbliss said...

You have the cuddling condiments! :D

tigerfish said...

Love that breakfast combi!
Teh Si Siew Dai - that will be very weak milk tea, isn't it?
For me, it's usually Kopi Gaw!

Pixie said...

Ah, how wonderful, I'd love to try this- thanks for sharing Nilmandra!

Nilmandra said...

Ling: I think I grew to like kaya more ever since I moved overseas and couldn't get them any more haha...

Little corner: Looks like more of you prefer kopi O to teh!

Miss Bliss: Hehe yeah I bought those salt and pepper pots a few years back because they are so sweet :)

Tigerfish: Wah, Kopi Gaw.... your hands might start shaking! ;) Teh si is tea with evaporated milk (instead of regular condensed milk) and Siew Dai means less sugar. Close enough!

Pixie: Glad you enjoyed reading it.

alicew said...

Hi nilmandra,

Love how the eggs turned out. I can never get it right. What is the ideal time for cooking the eggs?

Nilmandra said...

alicew: It was a lot of trial and error at first but I found a method that works for me. I use large eggs and let them warm up to room temperature from the fridge first.

Put the eggs in a small pan of boiling water (must be boiling already) and simmer at lowest heat for 4 minutes. Then remove the eggs and let it rest for 1 minute, so that the insides close to the yolks would finish cooking and turn white/opaque. When you crack open the eggs, they should be nicely half-cooked, with the egg whites quite soft.

You may need to increase or reduce the cooking time a little depending on the size of your eggs and whether they are straight from the fridge.

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