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Try something different this holiday season - for example, the Turkey Masak Merah from Fullerton Hotel Singapore (left) or Paul's Asian Eight-spice Roast Turkey. Photos: Fullerton Hotel Singapore (left) and Paul

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Big Birds You’ll Want To Order For Your Holiday Meal

How did turkeys become a holiday staple in tropical Singapore? We are guessing it stems from our British colonial upbringing.

It is said that the tradition of eating turkeys at Christmas can be traced back to Henry VIII, who started the trend. As the British Empire discovered the New World (or the Americas as we know it), they also discovered the delectable charms of a cooked turkey. Or perhaps Henry VIII, who by all accounts was not a minimalist, loved the idea of a massive bird as the centrepiece of the festive table.

We’ll never know the real story, but the fact remains that the turkey has become an integral part of many a Singaporean’s Christmas table. And so, year after year, hotels and restaurants cook up ideas for uniquely flavoured turkeys to vie for our holiday dollar.

Here are a few that caught our fancy.

Turkey Masak Merah

Turkey with local flavour has long been the rage. Some are undeniably inspiring, others… not so much. This year, Fullerton Hotel Singapore has hit on a fabulous rendition: Turkey Masak Merah ($238, 6 to 7kg). Spiced with aromatics inherent to the traditional Malay chicken stew, such as ginger, garlic, chillies, coriander and tomatoes, Fullerton’s Turkey Masak Merah is served with blue pea nasi lemak made with basmati rice, emping crackers, sambal belacan and a spiced tomato gravy.

Chinese-style Braised Turkey

For years, Goodwood Park Hotel has proven that it is more than capable of dishing out creative fare no matter the occasion. This year, it has taken its turkeys Teochew by braising them with eggs and peanuts, and serving them with a homemade chilli sauce ($338 for a whole turkey, serves eight to 12). If you are a fan of the Coffee Lounge’s popular braised duck leg in dark soy sauce, you’ll love this festive offering. The turkey emerges from its slow-cooking saturated with the flavours of liquorice root, bay leaves, galangal, root ginger and star anise. It even comes with your choice of fragrant yam rice with preserved sausages, mushrooms and dried shrimps, or thick rice porridge with braised gravy.

Asian Eight-spice Roast Turkey

Rubbed with ginger, star anise, cumin, chillies, cinnamon, galangal, turmeric and saffron, Paul’s Asian Eight-spice Roast Turkey ($150, about 3.5kg to 4.5kg) is full of familiar flavours. Slice yourself a hunk of the bird and drizzle it with the garlic chilli or sweet and sour sauces that accompany it. To make it extra shiok, the turkey comes with six braised molten-yolk eggs, 10 deep-fried chicken rice balls, achar, and 100g of Thai rice crackers (if you want extra, pay $10 for every additional 100g).

Cotechino Stuffed and Deboned Roast Turkey

If you’ve ever struggled with carving a turkey at home, you’ll appreciate a deboned bird which you can simply slice and serve. Da Paolo does just that and stuffs the boneless bird ($358, about 4kg) with cotechino, an Italian-style sausage traditionally served during Christmastime. Made with pork, pork rind and lard, the cotechino is also chock full of chestnuts, leeks, mushrooms and chorizo. The turkey comes with roasted potatoes, onions, carrots and a passionfruit sauce.

Turkey with Truffle Butter

How to add a luxurious touch to your turkey? Give it a rub down with truffle butter and you’re on your way to a special bird. That’s what Sofitel Singapore City Centre has done: marinate the turkey ($192, 4kg to 5kg) in a tasty blend of spices and truffle-infused butter. If you prefer familiar flavours that children can better appreciate, look to the Japanese-style Soy-Glazed Turkey ($192, 4kg to 5kg) made with a marinade of soy sauce, sugar, sake and mirin.

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