I am a big fan of Nyonya food.
A lot of work goes into the preparation of this wonderful cuisine and it never fails to amaze me just how fragrant the dishes can actually be. This is due to the “rempah”- a combination of spices pounded into a paste traditionally with a pestle and mortar, to give a specific texture, density and distinct flavour. Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine combines Chinese, Malay and other influences into a unique blend. Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malays. The old Malay word Nyonya, a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing, has come to refer to the cuisine of the Perakanans.
They keep all the perfect recipes for their own daughters, so that they can marry well..
It is said that a Nyonya can determine the culinary skill of a new daughter-in-law simply by listening to her preparing rempah with a mortar! Hmm.. luckily I am not Nyonya. I would obviously fail the test! Nyonya recipes are handed down from one generation to the next, and because of the time-consuming preparation of these dishes, it is a cuisine that is often guarded jealously like a prized secret. Not only that, I am told by a very close Nyonya friend that, they never, ever reveal recipes in full to anyone. And when I say anyone, I mean even family members. The Nyonya ladies always omit an ingredient or two when teaching recipes, even LIE to each other, just so the other folks never make the dishes as nice as them! They keep all the perfect recipes for their own daughters, so that they can marry well. You see, back then, the most highly sought after Nyonya bride was one who could cook, and cook well, might I add. Oh yes, she was totally worth her weight in gold (or rempah as the case may be)!
Shots of the delicious food at The Long Table.. just feast your eyes!
Nyonya cooking is the result of laborious preparation of ingredients and wok cooking techniques with spices that give rise to an amazingly delicious end product. The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. Key ingredients include coconut milk, galangal (spice similar to ginger), candle-nuts as both a flavoring and thickening agent, laksa leaf, pandan leaves, belacan, tamarind juice, lemongrass, torch ginger bud, fragrant kaffir lime leaf, rice or egg noodles and cincaluk – a powerfully flavored, sour and salty shrimp-based condiment that is typically mixed with lime juice, chillies and shallots and eaten with rice, fried fish and other side dishes.
Nyonya desserts are extraordinary! I love the fact that they use tons of fresh coconut milk in the preparation of their sweets. The desserts are normally made from local ingredients such as sweet potato, yams, agar agar, gula Melaka (palm sugar), coconut milk, glutinous rice and sometimes red beans, green beans or mung beans too. The local plant, the Pandan leaf is used to flavour Nyonya desserts to perfection.
At The Long Table, my favourite dessert is the Pengat Pisang. This is a sweet dessert of banana, carrots, yam and sweet potato in a thick, creamy coconut milk broth. Super rich and super delicious! Pandan leaves are use to add a fragrant aroma and adding a dash of salt is a must, to add body to the dessert. A big thank you to Aly of RedFM for the invite to dine at The Long Table and also to the host for that night – a nice gentleman who would prefer to remain anonymous. A quick tribute to the three Nyonya lady cooks in the kitchen who had a lifelong dream of owning a restaurant.. man, have they done a great job with The Long Table! Do check out this place for some terrific Peranakan if you happen to be in the area.Add: The Long Table Restaurant
Block D-02-1, D-03-1
Glomac Plaza Jalan SS7/19
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Non Halal Opening times Sunday to Friday ( CLOSE ON SATURDAYS) LUNCH – 11.30 am till 3.00 pm DINNER – 6.00 pm till 10.00 pm Tel:012 2469928