Chili Sauce or Ketchup?

One of the things that I had to get used to when moving to Singapore was the abundance of chili sauce and peppers, and the tendency people have to eating it.  It’s included with most dishes from hawkers, or in a bottle on the table.

There are a few varieties of it.  Sometimes there’s a thick, dark brown chili paste that’s added to the dish itself.  There are also green, slightly sweet peppers that are served alongside the dish in a small cup.  Or, there are red peppers mixed with soy sauce that are served the same way.  Those are just the most common.  There are quite a few more.

Typically I’m not a big fan of chili sauce or peppers.  I think this is mostly because in the US when you get something with peppers in it or have chili sauce, it’s really really hot.  The chilis and peppers in Singapore don’t hold a candle to their heat.  This is especially true of jalapeno peppers.

However, after living here for so long, I’ve come to appreciate these peppers and the different chili sauces.  Most of them add a lot of flavor to otherwise bland dishes that you purchase at hawkers.  In fact, I think some hawker dishes wouldn’t be palatable without them.  Don’t take that to mean hawker food is bad though.  Some of my favorite dishes are from hawker stalls!

Where it gets weird for me is when I see little packets of chili sauce in fast food chains.  Or when I see a chili sauce dispenser right next to the ketchup dispenser, like at the McDonald’s restaurants here in Singapore.  People in Singapore seem to enjoy dipping their french fries in chili sauce instead of ketchup.  I can’t get used to that taste, especially since it’s a weird sort of sweet chili sauce.

The thing about McDonald’s though, and perhaps all fast food chains, is that they tailor their menus to the country they’re in.  It’s only smart.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to gain any market share.  For example, in the Philippines you can get a longganisa meal.  Longganisa is a local type of sausage that’s quite good!  (Click here for a recipe.)  The chili sauce is the only difference I’ve noticed with the McDonald’s in Singapore though.

I’m just glad that ketchup is still available for my french fries!