Monday 25 June 2012

Irene's Peranakan Recipes

In the same part of the cookbook series as Uncle Lau's Teochew Recipes, Irene's Peranakan Recipes have the same simple style and layout. Peranakan refers to the descendants of the late 15th & 16th century Chinese immigrants who settled in Malaysia and Indonesia  Now, normally I'd object to quotes like: "Girls have to do girls' things", being the raging bra-burning feminist that I am, but the picture of Irene herself at the stove with big glasses and 70s hair, as well as her charmingly honest history was enough to tame me.  
It was one Sunday and a group of my friends, obsessed with South East Asian food, decided to get together for a British version of a potluck, also known as the Pie Out. It was the perfect opportunity to try out this new cookbook. It's not the easiest cookbook to navigate as the contents page lists the Peranakan name of the dishes, but it's a fascinating flick through. 

Fish curry was well spiced with a tangy hit. The gelatinous quality of the sauce was made by the addition of lots of sliced okra. 

With plenty of spicy, creamy curries (including the chicken rendang in the opening picture), a simple cleansing cucumber salad was ideal to cool mouths, even if it did have some chilli in it. 

One of the dishes I made was braised green beans with prawns in spicy coconut milk. Pretty straightforward to make, the shrimp paste used to stir-fry the spice mixture gave it a deep savoury flavour that only shrimp paste makes. 

My favourite accompaniment of the dishes though was pickled pineapple. Chunks of pineapple are cooked until soft with salt, sugar, chilli and cinnamon (or cassia bark in my case) and then served at room temperature. It was the perfect acidic foil for the richness of the meal.

Pickled Pineapple

Serves 6 with other dishes 

1 small pineapple; cored, skinned and chopped into bite sized chunks
2 large red chillis, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1 6inch stick of cinnamon, or cassia bark
2 cloves

In a pan, heat up the pineapple with everything else gently. No need to add any liquid. Cook gently for 20 minutes until tender. Place in a bowl to cool and serve with creamy, rich curries at room temperature or cold.

Contact Epigram for a copy of the book here


Gene said...

Pie out, love it! So much going on in this post and all of it makes me very hungry! I love, love, love curry! And I'm definitely going to work the Pickled Pineapple into my repertoire. Thanks!

J@Feasttotheworld said...

That's amazing!! You've made Nyonya dishes. I'm very intrigued by the book as older generation of Peranakan were renowned for never writing down any it's all pass down from generation to generation through word of mouth hence all the recipe of the same dishes varies. Glad this cuisine it's getting noticed now though ....great post! :)

Shu Han said...

Did you get the whole series of cookbooks then?? I've only flicked through the eurasian one. the peranakan one looks good!

pickled pineapple looks like a simpler scaled down version of nonya achar, will def keep in mind for quick standby pickle! yum lizzie!

Anonymous said...

These dishes look yummy ! and now I want to buy the boyfriend is Malayisian- Chinese from a Nyonya family and he's constanlty raving about the food back home. Will have to try and make some, I have a feeling he'll be really happy ( and so much for the raging feminism ;)

Hollow Legs said...

Gene - I feel like a pie now! No worries, do let me know how you got on.

J - Yes! First time cooking Nyonya food and I loved it.

Shu - nope, just this one and the Teochew one. There was a recipe for nonya achar too!

Mariani - Ahhh but instead you can buy him the book and get him to make you some ;)

Wai Yee Hong said...

I'm absolutely dying to crack open my Nyonya cookbook (brought back from M'sia by antee) now too! It's great to see at least some of these Pereanakan recipes being retained for the future, and not being lost with each generation passing!

Vicky @ UrsineCuisine said...

That pickled pineapple looks delicious! Perfect to soothe with a spicy curry!

Anonymous said...

Pretty section of content.

Hollow Legs said...

Wai Yee Hong - yes, i am glad these Heritage cookbooks are preventing that from happening!

Vicky - it was really lovely; Salty, sweet, and a little spicy.

Anon - thanks!

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