Hawkers, HPB unite to introduce wholegrain versions of popular dishes
Hawkers at Tiong Bahru Food Centre incorporating wholegrain variants in their dishes in collaboration with the Health Promotion Board
One wouldn't think that Teochew png kueh, that pink triangle of sticky goodness containing glutinous rice, shrimp and peanuts, can still be delicious with brown rice mixed in.
But Mr Law Teng Hwa, the owner of hawker stall Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh, has managed to make his popular snack offering with it, and some of his regulars approve.
His is among about 30 stalls at Tiong Bahru Food Centre that have converted some of their popular dishes to include wholegrain variants from now until April 30.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has connected suppliers of wholegrain staples with the hawkers to encourage the latter to incorporate ingredients such as brown rice, wholegrain bee hoon and wholegrain kway teow, into their regular dishes, whose prices remain the same.
This is part of HPB's efforts to increase the availability of wholegrain options and encourage Singaporeans to improve their diet quality when eating out.
Mr Law, 59, told The New Paper that it took a month of hard work and more than 20 failed attempts before he figured out the right recipe.
When HPB approached him earlier this year to introduce wholegrain variants, he immediately thought it was a great idea.
He said: "This is really good for the health of Singaporeans. Furthermore, I do not need to convince customers myself to (buy my brown rice kueh) because they already know about the benefits of brown rice thanks to HPB's efforts in promoting it."
Ms Ann Low, deputy director of the obesity prevention management division at HPB, told TNP: "HPB always tries to find new ways to get consumers to eat wholegrain, and Tiong Bahru is a place where everyone knows there's good food.
"We work with hawkers and food manufacturers to come together to innovate and put wholegrain into common dishes like chicken rice, prawn noodles and nasi briyani."
Ms Low added that HPB will "gain experience" from this trial and introduce a similar initiative at 20 other hawker centres to "encourage consumers' acceptance and hawkers' confidence to serve wholegrain in our local delights".
Indeed, some hawkers intend to continue serving wholegrain options beyond April 30 as customer feedback has been largely positive.
Mr Tan Kim Leng, 48, the third-generation owner of Min Nan Pork Ribs Prawn Noodles, said he will continue letting customers order wholegrain yellow noodles as they like it "a lot".
He said: "It's more chewy and does not have the alkaline taste.
"Preparing it is not that different from (preparing) regular noodles either. It just takes a longer cooking time."
Ms Maisie Lim, 69, who has been patronising Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh for many years, gave the new version a thumbs-up.
"I've always liked eating healthy, and this is the first time I've seen brown rice used in png kueh," she said.
But other regulars like Chan Beebee, 63, have been harder to convert. She said: "I bought it before but I don't like it. I still prefer the original one."
Ms Stephanie Fook-Chong, who ordered green curry and rice from Muen Wang Thai Kitchen, another participating stall, said: "The brown rice does not really bother me. It has a lot of fibre and it keeps me full (for) longer."