Peranakan Foods: Famous Dishes, Restaurants in Singapore, & Recipes

The Peranakan, also known as the nonya, are a cultural hybrid. Specifically, the Chinese component of this mixture makes up 80% of the total, while the local component accounts for 20%. Because of its use of unusual ingredients, Nonha cuisine is held up as an example of refined cooking across the world.

Peranakan  silver dragon figurine on brown wooden table

The term “Peranakan” refers to the children of Chinese migrant men and native women from Penang Island in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

They were rich, so the groom donned the traditional suit. The females came from respectable backgrounds, too. There was usually a wedding photo with them dressed in their national attire. A large number of Peranakans were prominent members of society. Every dish in their homes was usually overflowing.

Peranakan  brown wooden table with chairs

Nonya food, as it was commonly called, was a paragon of elegance. Traditional Peranakan food uses ingredients that are sometimes strange or even poisonous, like the seeds of the kepayang fruit of the buah keluak tree. This makes it hard to make these dishes in a modern kitchen.

Chicken curry (known as Ayam Buah kelua) and the native vegetable stew, Chapchye, are two dishes that should be avoided at all costs. Do it only if you have a reliable mentor overseeing your efforts.

6 Famous Peranakan dishes for Lunch and dinner:

Babi Pongteh

The most basic kind of Babi Pongteh is pork cooked in fermented soy sauce. Cinnamon and star anise are common spices used to flavor it. In Peranakan culture, a legend says that a marriage proposal wasn’t official until the bride-to-be served a delicious meal she had made herself.

Chap chye

Chap chye Peranakan  dish

For this dish, known as chap chye, cabbage, black mushrooms, pig brisket, and vermicelli are braised in a broth made from shrimp and pork.

Babi Buah Keluak.

A dish called Babi Buah Keluak is the crown jewel of traditional Peranakan cuisine. The major component, the keluak fruit or kepayang (pangium edule), only grows in Indonesia and a few regions of Malaysia, making its preparation a challenge.

Its raw form is toxic due to the presence of hydrocyanic acid. So, they spend 40 days submerged in volcanic ash before being cooked. Once that happens, you can really use them. The meal is highly specialized since not even many natives enjoy its bitter, dark chocolate flavor and slimy texture. Nonetheless, this substantial pork rib stew is great when cooked properly.

Itek Tim

In this spicy soup called Itek Tim, duck, ham choy (mustard sarepta), ginger, tamarind, tomato, chili peppers, and brandy come together in this spicy soup.

Otak-Otak

Otak-Otak Peranakan  dish

A fish fillet is dipped in a mixture of eggs, coconut milk, rice flour, and lemongrass spices, and steamed in banana leaves.

Kueh Pie Tee

Kueh Pie Tee Peranakan  dish

Kueh Pie Tee is a type of tartlet that is thin and crispy on the outside and filled with a mixture of finely chopped turnips and carrots with shrimp that is sweet and spicy.

4 Famous Peranakan Restaurants of Singapore

A few Peranakan restaurants where you can sample the aforementioned items and more while also becoming acquainted with the style of dining common in Peranakan homes:

Candlenut at Dempsey (17a Dempsey Rd).

The world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant.

Website: Comodempsey.sg

Phone: +65 1800 304 2288

Violet Oon (78 Airport Boulevard, #01-205/206).

A restaurant chain that even has a branch at Changi Airport.

Website: https://violetoon.com/

Phone: +65 9834 9935

The Blue Ginger (97 Tanjong Pagar Road).

Repeatedly awarded by the Michelin Guide, the restaurant is located in a three-story house and is hung with the works of local artists.

Website: https://theblueginger.com

Phone: +65 6222 3928

True Blue Cuisine (47/49 Armenian Street).

This authentic Peranakan restaurant is located next to the Peranakan Museum in the center of town.

Website: https://truebluecuisine.com/

Phone: +65 6440 0449

Few Recipes of Popular Peranakan dishes:

Kueh Pie Tee

Ingredients (for 20 cups):

  • Ready-made baskets of dough – 20 pcs.
  • 3 medium sized turnips
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Pasta (tau chio) – 3 tbsp. l.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Sugar – 2 tbsp. l.
  • Eggs – 2 pcs.
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • Shrimp – 15
  • 2 tbsp. l. black bean sauce and some sweet sauce (tee chio)

Preparation:

  • Peel and finely chop the turnips in a bowl of cold water.
  • Heat oil in a wok and fry garlic in it. Drain the turnips and put them in the wok. Add a glass of drinking water, sugar, salt, and bean sauce and leave to stew.
  • Meanwhile, boil and peel the shrimp. Make an omelet from the eggs and slice it into thin strips.
  • Spread the cooked turnip on baskets.
  • Decorate the dish with omelet strips, shrimp, and coriander and sprinkle with sweet sauce.

Longan tea

Ingredients (for 20 servings):

  • 1 package of dried longan (the name translates as “eye of the dragon”)
  • Handful of dates
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Preparation:

  • Boil dried longan and dates.
  • Taste and season with sugar, as the drink should be quite warm and sweet.
  • Pour the warm, fragrant tea into beautiful bowls.

In Singapore, this tea is served at weddings and other celebrations as a symbol of happiness.

Ayam buah keluak:

Ingredients:

  • Buah keluak (poisonous seeds of the kepayang tree fruit) – 20 pcs.
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 5-6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • Shrimp – 5 pcs.
  • Minced pork – 50 g
  • A little soy sauce
  • Shallots – 200 g
  • Dried chili pepper – 100 g
  • Kukui nuts – 8 units.
  • Turmeric – 20 g
  • Galangal (aka kalgan – a relative of ginger) – 100 g
  • Shrimp paste – 2 tbsp.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Juice based on tamarind (80 g of tamarind per 1 liter of water)

Preparation:

  • Fill buah keluak with water and leave it for three days (change the water daily).
  • Then use a mortar pestle to crush each fruit, use a teaspoon to remove the pulp, and rinse the shells and set them aside.
  • Marinate the ground pork in a little soy sauce. Mix the buah keluac pulp with the chopped shrimp and minced meat and fill the shells with it.
  • To prepare the spice mixture, grind chili, nuts, turmeric and shrimp paste in a mortar and mash everything with two spoons of vegetable oil. In a deep bowl, in six tablespoons of vegetable oil, fry the spice mixture, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass so that they release their flavor. Add the tamarind juice and bring everything to a boil. Then place the stuffed Buah keluak shells in it.
  • After 15 minutes, add the chicken pieces and cook until the meat is tender.

Reference:

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Daniel Wong
Daniel Wong
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One comment

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