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Peranakan Food – A Mixture of Chinese Seasonings with Malay Spices

Unique Peranakan food recipes have been taught from generation to the next with high expectation of the accuracy in preparing the seasoning, blending the ingredients and grinding the “rempah“.

The “rempah” will determine the flavor of the Peranakan cuisine.

The final result of the “rempah” depends on the skill of the person in handling pestle and mortar to create a specific texture and density of spices. It’s time consuming and not easy.

Once, I used an electrical blender to create the “rempah” for my first Peranakan food cooking experiment. The taste doesn’t feel right! Well, the traditional method stills the best I think.

The basic ingredients to create an aromatic rempah usually are galangal (blue ginger), ginger, yellow ginger, candlenuts, other types of nuts like the black nut (buah keluak), lemongrass, belachan (shrimp-paste), shallots, chillies, salt, sugar, tamarind, and lime juice or lime leaves.

Mixed with coconut milk, laksa leaf or pandan leaves, and meat or poulty – many dishes can be created from the peranakan kitchen such as:

Itek Sio
Braised duck in a gravy mixture of dark sauce, coriander and tamarind is a classic Peranakan dish.

Sambal Prawn
Stirred fried prawn with chili, lemon grass and torch ginger flower bud, coupled with sambal sauce.
It’s tasty and exquisite.

Peranakan Food   A Mixture of Chinese Seasonings with Malay Spices

Babi Ponteh
Lean pork stewed in gravy of preserved bean paste flavored with cinnamon bark.

Ayam Buah Keluak
Chicken pieces stewed with buah keluak (black nut) gravy.

The buah keluak which originates from Indonesia will create a unique aroma which made the Chicken Black Nut (ayam buah keluak) a Peranakan signature dish.

Nonya Chap Chye
The dish prepared with an assortment of different vegetables and herbs like cabbages, mushrooms, glass noodles (tang hoon), black fungus, and a touch of bean paste.

Bakwan Kepiting
Meat-balls made with minced pork, crab meat and prawns – seasoned and simmered in a specially prepared broth accompanied with finely shredded bamboo shoots.