Nyonya Recipes

Nyonya or Peranakan Recipes are combination of food that are usually sour, sweet, salty, hot and spicy tasting. The best, most famous and popular nyonya recipes or peranakan recipes which are tasty and delicious are their spicy or mild curry, soups, vegetables, nyonya kerabu (salad), fruits or vegetable pickles, rice and congee or porridge recipes. Besides the nyonya food and pickles or relish, they are also known for their all-time favorite nyonya desserts recipes and nyonya kuih recipes which are easy and simple to cook or prepare. Nyonya food is influenced by the combination of many cultures. Nyonya cuisine is now acknowledged as one of the earliest examples of Asian exotic and fusion food. Unlike modern fusion dishes, the melting pot for Nyonya food or Peranakan food existed in the world where cultures meet and taste buds were awakened by the dominant nyonya cooking tastes and flavors of the day. The secrets to Nyonya method of cooking is by the infamous agak-agak or rough estimates method in our grandmother’s recipes. As a result, a number of nyonya recipes have been lost, and the true essence of the nyonya cuisine has been confined only to Straits Chinese homes today. Influenced by its Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai and to a lesser extent, colonial, the nyonya food and desserts recipes of the Penang Peranakan food is unique and exotic. The Straits Chinese were among the first to adopt Western ways and methods of cooking, some of the nyonya dishes they prepare has an unmistakable western taste and flavor. While the Straits Chinese everyday food breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper betrays a distinct local taste and flavor, the Chinese influence is most apparent during festivals where you will find the best and most tasty, delicious, famous and popular nyonya soups, the clear soup – ‘Kiam Chai Ark’ (salted vegetable and duck soup), the ‘Chap Chai T’ng (mixed vegetables soup), ‘Too Thor T’ng’ (pig’s stomach soup) or the ‘Hu Pioh T’ng (fish maw soup). Besides the nyonya soups, there are also nyonya food recipes like the Jiu Hu Char, Hu Chih Char, Chap Chai, Nyonya Curry Chicken, Tau Ewe Bak, Hong Bak, Loh Bak, Nyonya pickles or nyonya acars are usually a medley of pickled fruits or vegetables, with the more elaborate ones made in combination with a spice paste and ingredients. The secret on how to make good nyonya acars and pickles lies in the salting and sun-drying of the fruits and vegetables. The sharp tang of sour taste, however, must be tempered with the sweet, salty and spicy taste as well, to create a balance of flavors that those outside the community often find hard to replicate. Some of these sour, sweet, salty and spicy Nyonya acars or fruit, vegetable pickles – the famous Acar Awak; Papaya Pickle or Bokwa Sui; Lime Acar or Acar Keat Lah; Leek Pickle or Logiou; Radish Pickle or Chai Tow Sui; Pickled Cucumber or Acar Timun, just to name a few. In the nyonya family, after lunch or dinner, the family will serve a varieties of nyonya desserts or nyonya kuih. Traditional or local favorites, authentic, most famous and popular nyonya desserts recipes or nyonya kuih recipes are the Kuih Talam, Huat Kuih, Pengat, Kuih Ee (glutinous rice flour balls in syrup), Chiu Chu Kuih, Pulut Tai Tai, Kuih Koci, Kow Chan Kuih, Radish Kuih, Bee Koh and Rempah Udang. There are also traditionally popular nyonya dishes found in recipes such as the Nasi Kunyit (yellow turmeric rice), Lam Mee (nyonya birthday noodles), ultra-rich Nasi Lemak (coconut fragrant rice) consisting of Assam Prawns, Assam Fish, cucumber slices, a wedge of hard-boiled egg and sambal belachan – a ground paste of fresh red chilies and toasted dried shrimp paste, in which Kerabus or Asian Nyonya Salads can be tossed up in no time at all since freshly-made sambal belachan is always at hand in a respectable Nonya family kitchen. We also have the Rice Recipes such as the Nasi Kembuli Recipe or Spiced Rice Recipe – an elaborate feast cooked on auspicious occasions like weddings, birthdays and the Chinese New Year. There are normally eight or nine accompanying dishes. Besides the traditional methods, techniques and ways of cooking Chinese Nyonya dishes, now there are also new methods which are easy and simply to follow on how to cook nyonya food, soups, curry and how to make nyonya desserts and kuih. The Nyonya and Peranakan recipes provided below are a combination of traditional, local and modern or new improved methods of cooking Nyonya food.