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Walk on the wild side: 5 foods to forage in Singapore

With its gleaming skyscrapers, modern urban landscape and tech-savvy population, Singapore looks every inch the bustling metropolis. Save for the few farms tucked away in its far corners, the country also seems to be the last place one would expect to find locally-grown produce.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that it’s possible to forage for food here in our little red dot. This was recently demonstrated at a collaborative dinner by Tin Hill Social executive chef Michael Lewis and Australian chef Elijah Holland, which featured produce they gathered within a 51km radius of Tin Hill Social’s location in Turf City. Held over the past weekend, the five-course dinner showcased ingredients such as blue pea flower and Malay ginger obtained from places like Bukit Timah and Changi.

When you can respect an environment and sustainably pick your food source from it, free of pesticides or chemicals, it really tells a story that something is being done right,” says Holland, who was the Head Forager for Noma earlier this year, when it held a pop-up restaurant in Sydney, Australia. With his help, we’ve put together a guide to 5 food items one can easily find around Singapore. Time to kickstart your foraging adventure.

1
Wild pepper

Typically found in shady areas, the wild pepper plant is common in Singapore and can be found anywhere from Dempsey Hill to Bukit Timah. During Holland and Lewis’ collaboration, they used its leaves and pepper berries for cooking. Even the stems and roots were used as herbal flavouring.

2
Malay ginger

With its vibrant red hue, the Malay ginger is fairly easy to spot amidst its surrounding green vegetation. Holland says that it can be found throughout Singapore, but he harvested most of his supply from the vegetation growing around Changi.

3
Blue pea flower

Known for its eye-popping blue shade, the blue pea flower can be sourced in abundance from Bukit Timah. The flowers are edible and often used as a natural dye for foods such as rice. For instance, the Malay dish Nasi Kerabu — which comprises a mix of spices, herbs and vegetables — features blue rice coloured by this lovely plant.

(Photo credit: Sihan Lee)

4
Guadeloupe cucumber

Holland discovered large quantities of these small cucumbers around Dempsey Hill and Bukit Timah, near Tin Hill Social’s space. Its young fruits can be eaten raw and taste like regular cucumbers.

(Photo credit: Sihan Lee)

5
Lavender sorrel

Like the wild pepper, the lavender sorrel is surprisingly ubiquitous around Singapore and can be picked around Changi, Dempsey Hill and Bukit Timah. It features tiny, dainty flowers that can be used for cooking or as food garnishing.

(Photo credit: Sihan Lee)

Sara Yap
Deputy Director, Digital Operations (Asia)
Sara Yap is the Deputy Director of Digital Operations at BurdaLuxury, and a contributing writer to Lifestyle Asia’s dining and jewellery beats. When she’s not on the lookout for exciting new restaurants or bejewelled trinkets, she’s probably buried in a riveting read, or reminiscing the good ol’ days with her favourite playlist of ’90s boyband hits.