Developed through the blending of Malaysian and Chinese cultures, Peranakan cuisine has long been a favourite among many families in Singapore. Although their roots may go back to other cultures, these Nyonya dishes have morphed into unique classics with a distinct set of flavours. This year, make it a goal to try some of the most celebrated Peranakan dishes in Singapore.
Ayam Buah Keluak
One quintessential Peranakan dish that you must try is the classic Ayam Buah Keluak. Some culinary experts claim that it is the defining dish of the Peranakan culture. It remains popular as ever among fans of Nyonya cuisine. Its base is toxic black nuts, buah keluak, which must be soaked and scrubbed until they are safe to eat. Once prepared, the nut is cracked with a hard, heavy object so that the cook can obtain the dark, oily meat of the nut. A pulp or paste is created with the kernels of the nuts, and then the mixture is re-inserted into the nut shells.
The rempah portion of the Ayam Buah Keluak is then created, typically with ingredients such as ginger, garlic, shallots, candlenuts, lemongrass, chillies, chicken, and other elements and seasonings, as the recipe dictates. The dish should be cooked a day ahead of time so that the flavours of the stew can merge together beautifully.
Chicken Curry with Potatoes
Chicken curry with potatoes in the Peranakan style is much more than a comfort food— it is a proud Nyonya tradition, passed on for generations. This warm, delectable dish is usually served with coconut milk and sticky rice infused with turmeric. Sometimes, the chicken curry would be packed up in a basket with other treats and given to a family to celebrate a baby’s first full month.
The ingredients differ for every recipe, but in general, the dish involves chicken and potatoes steeped in a rich, hearty gravy, featuring spices and coconut milk. Other elements may include shallots, garlic, candlenuts, chilli peppers, onions, and lemongrass.
Nyonya Chap Chye
Praised as one of the healthiest Nyonya dishes, Nyonya Chap Chye is another must-try favourite from the Peranakan kitchen. The dish involves a wide variety of vegetables. Some of the more well-known vegetables are carrots, cabbage, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms; while the more exotic ones include dried black fungus, dried lily flower buds, bean curd skin, and gingko nuts. Some recipes include prawns and vermicelli noodles or glass noodles. The result is a tasty, healthy selection of vegetables, sometimes served in a tangy broth.
Assam Fish Head
The recipes for Assam Fish Head vary widely, with every family holding fast to their preferred Nyonya version. Typically the dish blends sour and spicy into a wonderfully hearty and comforting meal, whose star is the fish, of course. Nyonya cooks like to use stingrays or Spanish mackerel, although one can substitute other fish such as pomfret. Lady fingers, eggplant, red onions, and tomatoes often find their way into the dish as well, along with seasonings such as chilli paste, lime leaves, shallots, candlenuts, lemongrass, belacan, garlic, and turmeric.
Peranakan Food in Singapore
If you need an excuse to try some classic Peranakan dishes, why not feature Nyonya cuisine at your next event? Eatz Catering, a popular catering service in Singapore, offers a wonderful Peranakan buffet. Visit our website to check out the available menus, affordably priced for groups of 30 or more.