Have you been itching to try some new foods and flavours? Indulge in some of Singapore’s popular traditional dishes when you taste Peranakan cuisine. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of four incredible Peranakan dishes that you should experience for yourself!
Babi Pongteh is a delightful dish, featuring stewed meat in fermented soy bean sauce. Although the original dish is not Halal-friendly, a skilled chef can substitute another kind of meat if Muslim guests will be present for the meal. There’s a story behind this Nyonya-style dish— in the old days, a young Peranakan woman’s skill with this particular dish was often an important factor in showing off her usefulness as a cook to her future husband. In the old days, this dish was equally valued in the home or on a feast table; and it remains popular today, thanks to its deep flavour and satisfying textures.
In Singapore, the term popiah refers to a special kind of spring roll, unique to the Peranakan culture. The popiah skin is a soft, fresh, very thin pancake-style wrapper, made with egg. Chefs typically craft the wrappers from water, salt, egg, and wheat flour, combined into a stretchy dough. When the ball of dough is rolled out on a hot steel pan, it leaves a thin sheet of dough behind when the chef swiftly lifts it off again; and that thin sheet of dough becomes the popiah skin.
The Nyonya way of filling popiah involves bamboo shoots, carrots, and thin strips of Jicama. Typically, there are about twice as many bamboo shoots as Jicama strips. Taucheo and broth are used to cook the vegetables and prepare them for stuffing. Some recipes also call for lettuce, crushed garlic, chilli paste, shallots, coriander, cucumber, egg, and bean sprouts as part of the filling.
Sambal Terung is a healthy, spicy dish, a great favourite among longtime Nyonya fans and newcomers alike. The dish consists of a roasted eggplant, spread thickly with a delicious sambal. Unlike many other Peranakan dishes, this one doesn’t require too much work. The majority of the preparation time goes to the soaking and roasting of the eggplants.
The sambal that tops off the eggplant typically incorporates chillies of various kinds and sizes, along with shallots, garlic, tomatoes, shrimp paste, coconut oil, lime juice, pepper, salt, and a bit of honey or coconut palm sugar. Using a blender or food processor cuts down on the necessary prep time and gives the resulting paste a pleasant texture.
Ngoh Hiang or Ngoh Hiong is a tasty five-spice roll that has been a Peranakan staple for decades. A Halal version is possible if you substitute other meats instead of the traditional choice. The five-spice seasoning is really the star of the dish. Experienced Singapore caterers and chefs know that there are multiple versions of these rolls, including a Teochew style and a Hokkien version.
One way to taste-test some new Peranakan flavours is to order food from Eatz Catering for your next event. Our Singapore catering service can provide a buffet, packed lunches, snacks, or reception foods for you and your guests. Many of our menus incorporate Nyonya favourites, including Ngoh Hiang, Ayam Masak Buah Keluak, popiah, and more. To view our menus and services or to order a full Peranakan buffet, visit the Eatz Catering website.