Peranakan cuisine or Nyonya cuisine comes from Peranakan culture. Peranakan usually referred to the descendants of early Chinese immigrants who came and settled down in Malay archipelago. However Peranakan can also referred to other comparatively smaller Peranakan communities, such as Kristang (Eurasian Peranakans), Chitty (Indian Hindu Peranakans), Jawi Pekan (Arab/ Indian Muslim Peranakans).
Most of these descendants who settled in Malay archipelago adopted local indigenous lifestyle while retaining their origin beliefs. All of these aspect that giving birth to the unique Peranakan culture. This is manifested in the eclectic East meets West Peranakan cuisine.
According David Wu and Chee Beng Tan in their book “Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia” Peranakan food is a result of Chinese utilising both Chinese and non-Chinese cultural principles as well as local ingredients in preparing food. Like this seafood curry, the confluence of Malay and Indian flavours make this curry so rich in flavours.
Peranakan Seafood Curry
Asam sunti or sun-dried bilimbi is commonly used in Acehnese cuisine, it give a tangy flavour to food. If you can’t find asam sunti, you can replace it with tamarind paste but don’t use too much because it will affect the colour of curry.
- 100g prawn
- 100g clams
- 50g squid
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 1 pandan leaf
- 10 pieces asam sunti
- 2 large green chilli, sliced
- 1 medium tomato, sliced
- 1/2 cup fish stock
- 500 ml coconut milk, first pressed
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- salt and sugar
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 cm turmeric
- 3 cm ginger, peeled
- 10 red curly chillies
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel
- Place all the curry paste ingredients in the food processor or mortar and pestle, blend it into a smooth paste. Heat some cooking oil in the pan, sauce the paste until cooked and fragrant. Add fish stock and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile bring a pot of water to simmer. Add clams and close the lid, cook for about 5 minutes until all the clams opened. Take out the clams, and discard the closed clams.
- Add in asam sunti, salt, sugar and continue to simmer. Add shrimp, squid ring and cooked clams.
- Then add sliced green chilli, curry leaves, pandan leaf, sliced shallot and sliced tomato, gently stir until fragrant. At last, add the coconut milk and continue to cook for another 2 minutes and remove from heat.
- Serve immediately with rice or flat bread.