What to know what makes Peramakan food dishes so delectable? The biggest secret for any authentic nyonya dish lies in its sauce or another way we locals like to call it, "Rempah".
Rempah is made up of the freshest chillies, garlic, shallots, tumeric, tamarind, candlenuts and other potent spices that bring the most sensational flavours out of seemingly ordinary dishes.
“REMPAH” is a Malay word for ‘SPICE” and this is the most important group of ingredients that form the foundation of Malay and Peranakan cooking. A variety of ingredients comprising of roots (turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, ginger, etc), chillies, shallots, garlic, candlenuts and toasted shrimp paste are used to make a variety of spice pastes. When these spices are blended together, they form a paste which we call “REMPAH”. This is then patiently fried in a deep-pan until the oil oozes out (the Peranakans call this “PECHAH MINYAK”. That’s when the spice paste is ready to use. Then, it will no longer be called “REMPAH” but “SAMBAL”.
The additions of other spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander, pepper and nutmeg in various quantities will transform the basic spice paste into a variety of sambals depending on what’s added. Likewise, the addition of coconut milk or tamarind can change a dish. Not all “REMPAHS” are spicy. The use of garlic and fermented soya beans (taucheo) and onions is itself a ‘REMPAH”. And that’s not all. During cooking, a variety of aromatic leaves and fresh roots are added to enhance the fragrance and flavour of the dish. The clever use of “marrying ingredients” at various stages of cooking, from preparing the REMPAH to finally cooking the dish forms the backbone of traditional Peranakan cooking.
Satay Ayam Panggang
Sambal Buah Keluak
Chilli Chuka, Vegetarian
Nyonya Kaya (Pandan)
Fish Curry Powder
Chicken Curry Powder