Singaporeans love ordering in, especially during long weekends. And many of you probably have some leftovers from the previous day in your fridge. If the food hasn’t turned bad, don’t throw it out just yet. You can whip up a new dish using leftovers from the previous day, or even the day itself.

We got home chef Sarah Benjamin to show us how she turned her leftover satay into a quick lunch (watch the video for the recipe) and to share how being Eurasian in Singapore has influenced the way she cooks.

sarah benjamin satay noodles

How do you define Singaporean cuisine?

Singaporean cuisine is so difficult to define, isn’t it? It’s a collection of many different influences, and yet it’s its own things at the same time. That’s what makes it exciting, I think.

When you describe certain cuisines, you can single out the flavours and ingredients that are the building blocks of the flavours. But with Singaporean food, the list of ingredients that make up the tastes we love goes on and on.

We have Malay, Chinese, Indian and even British flavours all mixed up in our cuisine. But it’s the way these ingredients and techniques come together that is my favourite part of Singaporean cuisine – like the coconut-scented spiciness of a laksa gravy coating slick noodles, or the aromatic hint of lemongrass or pandan in the base notes of a chicken rice.

I may be biased, but I get so excited talking about Singaporean food, and I think we have such a fascinating cuisine here.

Describe your personal style of cooking. How has local food influenced the way you cook?

Personally, I like to call my style of cooking ‘inauthentic’. That just means that while it’s really important to learn about the history behind dishes and techniques, I also like to innovate and experiment with food from different cultures, and mix them together in unexpected ways – as long as it tastes good, of course.

And I think that my perspective on food is definitely thanks to being Singaporean. We mix different flavours and cuisines on the same dinner table all the time in pursuit of deliciousness, and that’s what drives my cooking now. 

Tell us your fondest memory of eating Singaporean food.

I have so many memories of eating amazing local food, but I think the fondest one has to feature the king of fruits, the durian. I love durian so much I even have a tattoo of it, so it’s no surprise that I come from a family of durian maniacs. I will always remember the time my uncle bought 50 whopping kilograms of durian and brought it over, and our whole family got down and dirty, squatting on our dining room floor, cutting the durians open and having a durian feast! Maybe it’s because of our COVID-19 restrictions now in place, but I especially miss getting together with the whole family over a good meal.

What does it mean to be a woman in Singapore today?

Being a woman in Singapore today means being on the edge of past and future. We are the product of an incredibly rich cultural history dating back hundreds of years.

At the same time, Singapore has developed so quickly as a country, and this means that our lives look so different from our grandmothers’ and even our mothers’.

Today, we have the opportunity to honour that heritage and culture, and all the different communities that have contributed to Singapore’s progress, while looking into the future and deciding how we want to shape it for our daughter and granddaughters.