It was honor to observe a cooking demo from Violet Oon, dubbed as Singapore Food Ambassador. She is one of Singapore’s leading food gurus and is known as much for her cooking as for her opinions on food. She is considered one of the leading authorities on Asian cuisine with a particular emphasis on Peranakan Food. Violet is also a respected cookbook author and food researcher. Her appointment as consultant to the Singapore Food Festival 2009 is particularly meaningful to her as the theme is Peranakan, the culture she belongs to.
Watch the 35 minute video as she demonstrates two recipes: Nonya Bak Chang and Babi Asam. She interspersed her cooking tips as she demonstrated the recipe. The recipe is a bit complicated to cook but you will learn some asian cooking tips just by watching the video. Now if you want to experiment, go ahead. The sweet potato dumplings taste so good.
1. Saute with a nice gentle sizzle not too loud sizzle . Chinese stir fry cooking involves high sizzle but not Peranakan.
2. Cook by smell.
3. Most peranakan dishes boil pork, slice it for that even look, then stir fry it
4. When boiling sweet potato, keep water for soup stock
5. Metal masher is better to use for mashing sweet potatoes
6. Don’t put less in a traditional dish. If rich foods are cooked in its right richness, you tend not to eat a lot.
7. This food should not be eaten every day. In the old days, it was eaten once a year.
8, Enjoy food three times a month. Rest of the month, eat plain like steamed fish or plain rice. When you cook for guests, the point is how to impress them. Cook really yummy for guests.
9. Coriander powder is important in Peranakan cooking. Never buy powder form. Toast the coriander in the over oon14for 10 to 15 minutes but stir every 5 minutes. It has to smell cooked but not burned.
10. To prevent spillage on the floor, use a mixing bowl three times the size that that you would need.
11. the smaller the pot the better. Deep fry is about how high the oil is.
12. When eating in a restaurant, feast with your eyes, your smell and lastly, the taste
13. Drain/dry the meat before cooking so that there is no water layer that prevents spices from reaching the meat.
Here are the recipes demonstrated by Violet Oon.
Held to commemorate a hero of ancient China, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in Singapore with thousands of pyramid-shaped glutinous rice dumplings and a Dragon Boat Race. The poet Ch’u Yuan drowned himself in protest against injustice and corruption. It is said that rice dumplings were cast into the water to lure fishes away from the body of the martyr. This act is remembered by the eating of “chung”, glutinous rice dumplings. Dried lotus and pandan leaves flood the markets a few days before the festival on the fifth month of the lunar calendar as the dumplings are wrapped up tightly in these leaves. The steamed glutinous rice encloses a variety of fillings from pork to mushrooms, red beans, chicken, and mung beans. The Peranakan version isa delicious variation. In the past, lotus leaves were not as a vailable so Peranakans used the gigantic fragrant pandan leaves to wrap their bak chang. In addition to the traditional ingredients of diced pork, Chinese mushrooms and preserved melon was added to the local recipe by the Baba Chinese. The new recipe also includes pounded coriander seeds and lots of sugar.