Peranakan cuisine (also known as Nyonya cuisine) is one of the most important parts of Malaysian food, which combines Chinese cuisine and Malay cuisine. The perfect combination of traditional Chinese cooking methods and Malaysian spices brings exquisite dishes with strong taste of sweet and sour, spicy, and other flavours. Each sauce used in Peranakan cuisine is made up of at least ten different spices. Many Malaysian aborigines consider Peranakan cuisine as the witness of the marriage of Malaysian people and Chinese people.
Peranakan cuisine has widely spread in Malacca, Penang, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, and has different tastes in different areas. In Malaysia, especially the north peninsula, the taste of Peranakan cuisine is more spicy and sour than in other areas. Moreover, Peranakan cuisine in Penang is always served with dried shrimp sauce because of the influence of Thai cuisine.
Peranakan cuisine were developed by women who could only spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Before marriage, girls learned cooking from their mothers in the kitchen; after getting married, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law would also cook dishes together. Thus, Peranakan cuisine also represents the memory of family for Malaysians.
Because sauces used in Peranakan cuisine are made up of a variety of different spices, the preparation of a dish used to be very time-consuming. However, by the impact of fast food culture, people can also buy sauces easily, which save a lot of time for cooking.
Laksa is one of the most famous dishes of Peranakan cuisine, which nicely combines Chinese food and Malay cooking method. Here is the recipe of Prawn & coconut laksa from Good Food magazine (2009):
2 tsp oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
juice from ½ lime
100g raw prawns, any size
165ml can coconut milk
100ml chicken or vegetable stock
100g dried egg noodles
chopped coriander, to serve
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. When hot, throw in the garlic, spring onion, ginger and green chilli. Cook on a medium heat for 3-4 mins, then squeeze in your lime juice.
Stir in the prawns, then add in the coconut milk and stock. Simmer gently for 5 mins on a low heat until the prawns are pink.
Meanwhile, cook your egg noodles in a pan of boiling water for 4 mins until soft. Drain, then tip into the laksa pan. Season to taste, then serve in a bowl, topped with coriander.
At Happy Lok Diner, you can also find delicious and authentic Laksa!