What Gin Goes with Peranakan Food?

Greetings Makan Kakis! Back with more yumminess is our Foodie Friend, award-winning cookbook author Shermay Lee of Shermay’s Singapore Fine Food. It’s been a while, so here are 2 main things to catch up on:

Shermay’s wildly popular The New Mrs Lee Cookbook Vol.1 & 2 (first published in 2003) have finally been reprinted and you can purchase this pair of instant classics now at most good bookstore, Amazon, Redmart and shermay.com (for autographed copies). These cookbooks are her updated take on her Grandmother’s (Mrs Lee Chin Koon) original recipes from Mrs Lee’s Cookbook, pain-stakingly taste-tested and broken down into easy-to-follow steps for the modern cook.

She’s teamed up with buffet restaurant The Line at Shangri-La Hotel for a sedap Peranakan collaboration called Grandma’s Kitchen. Basically, she’s taken over their entire Asian section and filled it with a mouth-watering array of classic Nyonya dishes created from her Grandma’s recipes. Best of all, your Grandma dines for free in a limited-time promotion – use the code below when booking! By the way, the rest of the buffet is also at your disposal, from the cold seafood station, to cold cuts, pasta, carving station, Laksa station, desserts, free-flow coffee, local drinks and teh tarik (from a dispenser!), with Shermay’s Peranakan dishes taking centrestage. $80++ is great value for all that! Also, you can go home after seeing & tasting to recreate the makan with their complimentary recipe cards!

HEAR:

  • Click here to listen/ download podcast of Part 1 – Shermay has reprinted her award-winning cookbooks, The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook Vol 1 & 2!
  • Click here to listen/ download podcast of Part 2 – Shermay’s collab with Shangri-La’s The Line for Grandma’s Kitchen Peranakan Buffet!
  • Click here to listen/ download podcast of this week’s distinctly Singaporean gin distillery!

SEE:
Are you a gin lover? This cocktail du jour is enjoying a spell in the spotlight and understandably so. It’s a refreshing tipple with so many possibilities. This week, Shermay recommends her favourite gin which also happens to be proudly made in Singapore. It’s well-crafted in small batches, with a nod to Asian flavours.


Brass Lion Gin Distillery was set up by Ms Jamie Koh, someone Shermay calls a hardworking, single-minded capable gin crafter with big dreams. It’s been a long path getting to that place of fruition and as a fellow food crafter & small producer, Shermay finds affinity her neighbour, whose gin distillery is just two blocks from her office. Both are extremely hands-on in their businesses, from hand labelling their products, to overseeing production and flavour profiles. Their products are the embodiment of everything they do.

So real quick, what is gin? It’s basically the distillation of botanicals with a neutral grain spirit and as long as juniper makes up the pre-dominant flavour, it can be referred to as a gin. From there, gin crafters can get creative with other flavours and aromatic ingredients. And Jamie K. goes to town, making her gins pop with flavours that are recognisable to the Singaporean palate. Shermay believes this is what sets Brass Lion Gin Distillery apart from others.


There is their signature Singapore Dry Gin, created from 22 botanicals that give expression to our local herbs and spices. So besides juniper berries and coriander seed, Jamie went on a trip to Tekka Market to source for more herbs and spices, like torch ginger flower and lemongrass which were all blended by a master crafter, resulting in a gorgeous gin that really tells an aromatic story of Singapore. Ingredients from our very own wet market? That definitely makes for a gin that is quintessentially Singaporean!

Shermay’s absolute favourite from Brass Lion is one that speaks to her Peranakan heritage. Featuring blue pea flower and lavender, this fragrant and pretty gin starts off as a deep, rich indigo colour. Add a squeeze of kalamansi lime and it morphs into a gorgeous lilac shade – magic! But this is not just a gin that looks good, it tastes good too. Shermay says there’s nothing like a Singapore-made blue pea flower gin to go with the Peranakan food she cooks. During Chinese New Year, these are what she served to her family and they loved it.

For those who prefer  something more assertive, try their Pahit Pink Gin (pahit = bitter in Malay). This gin has a Negroni-esque flavour profile in that it has a pleasant bitterness. Certainly a more acquired taste, this interesting orangey-red gin is served by Shermay with a twist of orange or lemon zest.

If you want to get your hands and thirsty tastebuds on Brass Lion gins, Shermay suggests making a day out of visiting the distillery for a full experience. For $45, a tour will procure you a welcome drink, an introduction to the history of Brass Lion Distillery, a visit to their copper still, how gin is made and to finish off, a flight of gins to taste! This gorgeous old conservation building also houses a retail space, R&D lab, herb garden, tasting rooms and an upstairs bar where bespoke, customised Gin & Tonics are made for you.

If you want to take your gin experience to another level, you could also enroll in Brass Lion’s Gin School, a masterclass in choosing botanicals, gin distilling, and the creation of your very own gin to take home. This is a great Sunday afternoon to spend with an intimate group of friends, or even for corporate events.

Brass Lion gins are proudly made in Singapore – distilled in Pasir Panjang! So Westies, take note – there are some really awesome places to discover if you know where to look!

TASTE:
Brass Lion Distillery
40 Alexandra Terrace, S(119933)
Tasting room hours: 5pm – midnight (Tues – Fri); 2pm – midnight (Sat); 2 – 7pm (Sun)
Tel: +65 69540602

Peranakan Herb Rice Salad Packs a Punch!

Babas and Nyonyas, stop me if you know this one: What do you get when you cross a herb salad with rice? Any true-blue Peranakan will tell you the answer is nasi ulam. The combination of aromatic Asian herbs, rice and, sometimes, seafood, is what makes nasi ulam such a wonderful, cool dish for our Southeast Asian climate.

Found all over southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and here in Singapore, recipes for nasi ulam differ from location to location, family to family, but this Peranakan version was recommended to me by KF Seetoh, the founder of renowned food guide Makansutra.

Chendol Melaka at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop along Upper East Coast Road is run by the irrepressible Daisy Tan and her husband Colin Yam. Once the regional director of a shipping firm, this self-confessed “200 per cent” bibik is now wholly dedicated to preserving her Peranakan culture through her culinary delights, like delicious chendol, kueh-kueh and her signature dish, nasi ulam.

With Nyonya Daisy Tan & her husband Colin Yam

TASTE: Chendol Melaka is located at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop, 15 Upper East Coast Road, Singapore 455207.
It’s open 10am-5pm (Tuesdays to Fridays) and 9am-5pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Closed Mondays.
To “reserve” your nasi ulam, call Colin Yam at 9777 6471.

Nyonya Rarity: Otak Jantan & More…

Greetings, Makan Kakis! Please meet our new Foodie Friend, Audrey Lee, one of the co-owners of Little House of Dreams, a charming bakery & bistro located on Dempsey Hill that specialises in bespoke cakes and dessert tables. But not many know that they also serve yummy savouries in the bistro and all this month of August, they’re serving up a special Peranakan menu.

Listen/ Download podcast to our interview and find out more about the Peranakan menu HERE (PART 1) & HERE (PART 2).

These Modern Peranakan Classics were created in collaboration with The Modern Bibik and what you get are hearty, delicious dishes inspired by Nyonya cooking and given a little twist, so that young and old can enjoy them. In fact, most of the dishes are suitable for children and those who can’t tolerate spiciness.

Continue reading “Nyonya Rarity: Otak Jantan & More…”

Candlenut Cravings

HEAR:
Click here for this week’s pungent Peranakan episode!

SEE:

We feature another hot favourite amongst chefs here in Singapore, especially if you want good old Peranakan comfort food served with both a nod to tradition and to imagination, innovation and modern technique. Our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh says you’ll get the best of both worlds at Candlenut, run by talented young chef Malcolm Lee. Previously located at Dorsett Residences near Outram MRT, this Michelin-starred restaurant has since moved into the swanky Dempsey area and yes, was arguably best known as the place where you could get served the rather unusual Buah Keluak ice cream! But Chef Malcolm is no one-trick pony and he uses Buah Keluak expertly in a couple of other dishes Chef Tony wants to highlight. For the traditionalists, you can’t go wrong with Candlenut’s Ayam (chicken) Buah Keluak, but if you’re keen to try something a little more unique, you’ve got to order the Wagyu Beef Shortrib Buah Keluak.

You have that distinctively pungent, bitter, very earthy taste of the black gold encased in the nut, which is the perfect accompaniment to the Wagyu shortrib. This is one cut of beef that is fatty, sinfully marbled and stands up well to the slow-cooking process, yet emerges absolutely tender and melt-in-the-mouth. Employing modern cooking technique, Chef Malcolm sous vides the beef and buah keluak together for a thorough infusion of meat and marinade. All you need is mountain of white rice to go with this supremely flavourful dish.

Another dish you’ve definitely got to try is the yellow coconut curry of crab, which is Chef Malcolm’s take on Prawn Nanas. Here, Blue Swimmer, or Flower Crab is used for its sweetness of flesh, along with an aromatic rempah. Mixed with the creaminess of the coconut and you’ve got an outstanding curry that again, only needs white rice as the perfect accompaniment.

Although Chef Malcolm serves food with a modern slant, make no mistake, fresh rempahs made from scratch, spice by spice, herb by herb, ingredient by ingredient. What many customers don’t realise how much effort goes into the preparation of Peranakan food. This is back-breaking, time-consuming work, well worth the price tag (though some have been known to say the food is expensive), because you have this labour of love lavished over fresh quality ingredients. We’re pretty sure even the staunchest of Peranakan food purists will enjoy the surprises Chef Malcolm brings to his respectful take on classics.

TASTE:
CANDLENUT
17A Dempsey Road, S249676
Open Daily: 12 – 2.30pm; 6 – 9.30pm (Sun – Fri) & 12n- 2.30pm;  6 – 9.30pm; 12 – 2.30am (til late on Sat)
Tel: 1800 304 2288

Creature Comforts – Inspired Heritage Food

img_6731HEAR:
Click here to catch up with KF Seetoh and what he’s been up too, including details on the latest on his ultimate food guide, Makansutra 2017 edition!
Click here to listen to this week’s mouth-watering makan recommendation, or simply read on…

SEE:
Our very first Makan Kaki, KF Seetoh is back! He’s got 5 copies of the latest edition of Makansutra for you to win and you can go straight to Gold 905’s FB page to enter our contest! For today, let’s talk Asian Heritage food that’s creative, beautifully presented and completely delicious! Seetoh loves meeting people who love and embrace their culinary heritage and move forward using that history to create amazing meals. Case in point, CreatureS, which serves up “comfort food with an Asian flair while staying true to the origins of the dish”. Check out some of Seetoh’s favourites from this little restaurant dishing out big flavours on colourful Desker Road in Little India:

cod-and-nasi-ulamNasi Ulam balls with Miso Cod. Nasi Ulam, in particular, is such a labour of love, involving rice cooked in rich fish stock and perfumed with lots of finely chopped Asian herbs. CreatureS does theirs Japanese onigiri-style and they are WONDERFUL!

lamb-shank-rendangLamb Shank Rendang. Spicy, rich and fall-apart-fork-tender, add a little lontong and you’re in meaty heaven!

babi-gulingCreatureS’ version of Balinese Babi Guling is another winner, as is their Nyonya-inspired Babi Pongtay, of which the pork belly is outstanding – a deep, burnished soy-brown, the babi is caramelised soft and is absolutely delicious.

babi-pongtayDurian Lovers, you’re gonna combust when you check this dessert out…

durian-cake-2CreatureS’ Durian Cake sounds very simple, but trust us, it is so layered in favour, you’ll want to eat the whole cake, not just a slice.

durian-cake-1Can you imagine smooth Mao Shan Wang durian paste (pungent, unctuous durian meat mixed with cream) layered between soft pandan sponge cake and smothered in pandan-vanilla chantilly cream? They make it a mind-blowing reality at CreatureS and it is a definite must-try!

If it’s yummy, satisfying, Asian-inspired food that stays true to its heritage, this is the place to eat at. Bonus is, CreatureS have got what it takes in both the style and substance departments – skillfully-made, delicious food that still looks great, is beautifully presented and totally instagrammable!

TASTE:
CreatureS
120 Desker Road, Singapore 209639

Tel: 6291 6996

Opening Hours:
Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Sunday: 12.00 noon –10.30 p.m.
Friday / Saturday: 12.00 noon –11.30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.

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Refined, Contemporary Peranakan Cuisine

chef jordi nogueraWe have a new foodie friend joining our panel of culinary personalities this week! Please meet Chef Jordi Noguera of FOC Restaurant. Today, we talk about this hot Catalan-inspired culinary destination on Hong Kong Street, their plans for more FOC outlets, Chef Jordi’s approach to food and also what he likes to eat since moving here to Singapore…

HEAR:

  • Click to hear more about FOC (it sounds so naughty! LOL) – the space, the food, the drinks and some of the must-try dishes at this cutting-edge Catalan inspired bar-restaurant.
  • Click to get to know Chef Jordi’s food philosophy and why he eats his Hainanese Chicken Rice with garlic mayo!
  • Listen to this week’s mouth-watering Peranakan episode here!

SEE:
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Chef Jordi recommends Peranakan food with a contemporary twist at Candlenut. He found his entire encounter with the unique cuisine really amazing, especially since each dish is carefully sequenced for maximum flavour. For a visitor to Singapore, Candlenut is a wonderful, elegant introduction to the varied herbs, spices, flavours and heritage of Peranakan cuisine. That said, for dinner, you really can’t go wrong indulging in their tasting menu, which promises an experience like stepping into Grandma’s house for a lovingly home-cooked meal. With witty reference to their ‘ah-ma-kase’ menu, you can expect weekly changes because they use only the freshest ingredients available each day.
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For a refined restaurant that really cares about preserving old traditions, yet pushing new boundaries (Hellooooo BUAH KELUAK ICE-CREAM!!!), do pay a visit soon to Candlenut. Chef Jordi dined at their current location at Dorset Hotel, but hears they will be moving soon to Dempsey.

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TASTE:
CANDLENUT
Dorsett Residences
331 New Bridge Road
#01-03
Singapore 088764
Tel: +65 81214107

Open Monday – Saturday:
Monday to Friday 12 noon – 2:30pm; 6 – 10pm
Saturday 6 – 10pm
Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays

Classic Peranakan – Magnificent Matriarchal Meal!

guan hoe soon

HEAR:

  • We talk about Peranakan cuisine and the importance of food heritage with Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee here!
  • Click this for this week’s Mothers’ Day meal recommendation – a treat for the whole family!

SEE:
Mothers’ Day is just round the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a marvelous matriarchal meal at the oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore? Our Makan Kaki, Awfully Chocolate’s Lyn Lee, shares with us her family’s favourite place and also her ideas for sweetening mum’s special day with a chocolatey gift set (scroll all the way down for Awfully Chocolate‘s Mothers’ Day selection)!

Lyn is a busy working mother of 3, but always finds time to find us great places to try, because she believes food is a huge part of being a mum. But on this special occasion, apart from feeding the family, it’s time to feed yourselves with something really spectacular. In Lyn’s humble opinion, nothing comes quite close to the complexity and depth of flavours wrung from traditional Peranakan cuisine, with its complicated preparation and balancing of both Malay and Chinese ingredients. Lyn married into a Peranakan family (in fact, her husband’s grandmother used to sell Satay Celup many moons ago!) who swear by this particular restaurant for authentic Nyonya food. It’s true that everyone claims their own homecooked Peranakan food is best, but for those occasions where it’s simply too much work, this Katong institution is a sedaptastic MUST!

Guan Hoe Soon has been around since 1953 and claims to be the oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore. With decades of food heritage under their belt, you can be assured of quality dishes here. Lyn can’t get enough of their addictive appetiser (she’s not sure of the name, but she is 100% sure of the taste!), which beats a packet of peanuts anyday:

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The addictive appetiser!

This is a wonderful combination of chicken gizzard, liver and heart chopped up and tossed in a fiery sambal and balanced with crunchy-cool cucumber. Don’t be shy to ask for more! Her family always does! When it comes to Peranakan food, there are just some classics you absolutely need to have, one of which is of course Ayam Buah Keluak:

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Classic Ayam Buah Keluak!

To the uninitiated, the black nut is an acquired taste – earthy, almost like a pungent tabacco, but once you learn to love its heady bitter-sweet richness, you’ll be digging in with bare hands to “gorek” the goodness out of the shells!
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At Guan Hoe Soon, they do it a lovely way by mixing minced meat with the black gold filling before stuffing it back into the shells for a texture with more bite. This is a must-try with a mountain of rice!

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Chap Chye

Nyonya Chap Chye, the classic saucy mixed vegetable dish is another must, for freshness, crunch and the wonderful sauce, which mixes so well together with everything else on your plate! Be sure to contrast your meal with something crispy and deep-fried. Lyn recommends their delicious Noh Hiang. And next, even though it’s not necessarily Peranakan, you’ve got to order the Crab Foo Yong!

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Crab Foo Yong

This beautiful golden eggy omelette with chunks of sweet crab is a hit with the kids and adults alike. Plus, it’s such an old-fashioned dish, it’s rare to find a place that does it well. Luckily, Guan Hoe Soon does!

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Bakwan Kepiting

While they also do a wonderful Itek Tim (salted vegetable duck soup), Lyn’s family favourite is the Bakwan Kepiting, a clear broth studded with bamboo shoot meatballs, that her children absolutely love. Lyn has managed to convince them that our local version of meatballs are far more impressive than the western variety!

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Dinner Crowd at Guan Hoe Soon

So there you have it, the favourites of Lyn & her family, after which they always wash everything down with a light, sweet dessert of old-fashioned Gula Melaka Sago or Chendol or Bubur Chacha.

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Antiques displayed at The Oldest Peranakan Restaurant in Singapore

For a hearty, traditional Mothers’ Day meal, you really can’t go wrong with Guan Hoe Soon – Lyn urges everyone to go and try it, support it & be very proud of our Singapore food heritage, of which Peranakan food holds an important place. Its complexity, labour-intensive preparation and unique flavours are worth celebrating and preserving!

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Step in for a really fantastic meal!

TASTE:
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
38/40 Joo Chiat Place S(427762)
Tel: 6344 2761
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm; 6 – 9.30pm

MAKE MUM’S DAY EVEN SWEETER WITH THIS GIFT SET FROM AWFULLY CHOCOLATE!
If you happen to be in the Katong Area for the Nyonya makan at Guan Hoe Soon, you might also want to pop across to the Awfully Chocolate outlet there to grab Mum a lovely sweet gift!
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M-Day 2016 Gift Set

To purchase this for mum, visit any of their stores, including their brand new outlet at Marina Bay Link Mall!

 

Hamburgers with a Luscious Local Twist!

HEAR:
Audio for this week’s episode!

SEE:

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Photo courtesy of Makansutra.com

HE’S BAAAAACK! With more awesome recommendations for unique local delights, there’s never a dull or untasty moment with Makan Guru KF Seetoh! This week, come with us to Upper Bukit Timah for a delicious & unusual hamburger – a BUAH KELUAK HAMBURGER! The brainchild of youngsters Ryan & Claire, they actually quit their jobs to start up this hambuger stall with no prior experience, because they believed so much in their product. And boy, does their product deliver in the taste department! Imagine if you will, that strange, earthy black nut usually used in chicken or pork curry – the buah keluak paste is extracted, mixed with spices, added to minced meat, shaped into patties and seared-to-order right before your eyes. The buah keluak meat patties are sandwiched between buns and topped with Nyonya chap chye! The combination of textures and flavours is incredible, so hurry to Beauty World for this hamburger with a luscious local twist!

READ MORE ABOUT IT ON MAKANSUTRA.COM!

TASTE:
HAMBAOBAO
Block 144 Upper Bukit Timah Road
#04-49
Beauty World Centre
Open Tues – Sun: 12 pm to 8 pm (Closed on Monday)