Singapore hawker dishes: Barbecue stingray
What we say:
It’s wise to keep an eye out for stingrays when you’re swimming in shallow water, but you should also watch out for them at Singapore’s hawker centres – they’re delicious!
Though it may seem exotic, stingray (also known as skate) is available at any hawker stall specialising in fresh seafood alongside the squid, prawns and crabs. The ‘wings’ of the stingray are the best part with stringy but tender meat and a surprisingly un-fishy taste. Stingray is also one of the most affordable Singapore seafood dishes, with a small stingray, which easily feeds two people, costing about S$10 – a fraction of the price of Singapore chilli crab and just as delicious.
Don’t be intimidated by the sight of the fresh stingray — the cook will remove the scary bits, leaving just the wings. The meat is then slathered with a chilli paste called sambal, wrapped in banana leaves to seal in the moisture, and grilled until the skin is crispy. Though stingray connoisseurs will argue that sambal is an essential part of the barbecue stingray experience, if you can’t take the heat you can always ask for it on the side.
The stingray will be served on the banana leaf with a small bowl of sour-ish sauce and fresh calamansi (similar to a lime) to squeeze over it. The best part of eating stingray is that there are no tiny bones to avoid. The smoky, spicy meat is on top and the cartilage that holds the wing together is at the bottom – simply use your fork to scrape it off. Stingray is a great dish for sharing, and is usually eaten with rice.
We’ve never met a barbecue stingray we didn’t like, but the following stalls are highly recommended as well as reasonably priced:
Hai Wei Seafood BBQ, Stall #1 Chomp Chomp Food Centre
Boon Tat Street BBQ Seafood, Stall #15, Makansutra Gluttons Bay
Ah Nam BBQ Seafood, Stall #23 Changi Village Food Centre
Mattar Road BBQ Seafood, Stall #63 Old Airport Road Food Centre