Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine is one of our country’s favourite foods. With influences from Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and even Thai cooking, Peranakan food adopts the best tastes and techniques from these cultures, creating dishes that are known for their powerful and rich flavours. And while you can certainly get your fix from the many incredible Peranakan restaurants around Singapore, why not try whipping up some of these classic heritage dishes at home yourself?
Craving a comforting bowl of laksa? Try this slurp-worthy recipe courtesy of Chef Ambrose Poh from Allspice Institute. Learn how this beloved dish is made from scratch, from the fragrant rempah paste and coconutty broth to the final garnishing touches with laksa leaves. A perfect one-pot dish for your next potluck party!
This classic Peranakan speciality is often only eaten on special occasions like Chinese New Year, simply because it requires a bit more effort to make compared to your usual stir-fries. In order to achieve the unique black gravy, you’ll need to soak the buah keluak (black nuts) for at least three days, before cracking each one open and then mashing the “meat” until you get a paste. But the effort will truly be worth it!
Take it up a notch with this recipe by Michelin Star Chef Malcolm Lee of Candlenut.
Instead of regular fried rice, whip up this delicious herb rice dish. The secret to a successful Nasi Ulam? Make sure the rice is at room temperature and not piping hot when mixing it with the rest of the ingredients, as hot rice will end up cooking the herbs and turn your dish bitter.
No Peranakan meal would be complete without this traditional favourite. It’s essentially a vegetable-based stew, featuring glass noodles (tang hoon), bean curd skin, cabbage leaves, black mushrooms, wood ear fungus and slices of pork belly. Michelin-star chef Malcolm Lee shares his recipe above.
Fresh popiah is more than just South East Asia’s version of a wrap — it’s great for a light lunch and packs a punch with its contrast of flavours. Try making this at home with your loved ones and they might enjoy putting together their own popiah too!
This popular Peranakan dish makes a perfect appetiser for potlucks, home parties and picnics. It features a sweet and spicy mixture of thinly sliced veggies and prawns stuffed into a thin and crispy shell. Just pop it into your mouth for an explosion of flavours! To prevent the shells from getting soggy, DIY a kueh pie tee station and have your guests fill the shells themselves.
Spicy, tangy and aromatic, it’s no wonder this dish is a hot favourite amongst Singaporeans. Not to be confused with the soupy version, the Nyonya take on mee siam features dry vermicelli (or bee hoon) slathered with the delicious gravy.
If you love brinjals, then this dish by cookbook author and food writer Sylvia Tan is right up your alley. It features oven-roasted brinjals instead of traditional fried ones, and is topped with sambal, shrimp fry, fried shallots and nuts so every bite is bursting with flavour. For extra richness, Sylvia recommends adding candlenut. Read more about the dish and pick up cooking tips here.
With a little patience and TLC, this Nyonya Duck Curry will be a hit at gatherings and parties. The recipe, shared by AllSpice Institute’s Chef Ambrose Poh, uses the versatile Rempah Kuning paste. Have it with rice, prata or bread – it goes with everything.
This sweet Nyonya kueh, also known as kueh jagung, is easy to make and makes a great kueh introduction for little children as it comes with delicious sweet corn. While the recipe is straightforward and fuss-free, some might find the banana-leaf-wrapping step to be troublesome or cumbersome. If that’s the case, you can skip the banana leaves and pop the mixture into a jelly mould as well.
Whether you like your bubur cha cha served chilled or hot, pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect dessert on hot, sunny days.
For dessert, why not serve up this simple but elegant Nyonya kueh? Made of glutinous rice that’s been steamed in coconut milk and pandan leaf, it can be eaten on its own or served with a bit of kaya for added flavour. Psst, the beautiful rich blue hue comes from butterfly pea flowers!
Need ideas for finger food for your next cosy gathering, picnic or potluck party? This classic Peranakan dish that consists of vegetables, mixed fruits, and shrimp in a crunchy shell is sure to be a hit among your guests. The bonus? It’s surprisingly easy to make.
(Recipe by Allspice Institute for The Weekly’s Domestic Diva Cooking Masterclass 2019.)
Also known as sambal terong, this Nyonya dish is bursting with flavour from the nuts, shallots and shrimp fry that tops the brinjal, making it a good appetiser that whets your appetite for the main course.
One of the most popular childhood snacks, kueh lapis still offers a kick when we peel off each brightly-coloured layer after another. And though it looks difficult to make, it’s actually much easier than it looks.
Spice lovers know that there’s nothing like some sambal belacan to accompany your to dishes. This aromatic condiment brings an explosion of flavour – spicy, savoury and sour – that tantalises the taste buds and immediately stirs up our appetite. Plus, it goes well with practically anything – seafood, meat, seafood, even noodles and rice.