09-Jul-09 - move Nonya Cooking Home to this new domain due to google closing free googlepage web host.
Welcome to Nonya Cooking
While Nonya ( Nyonya ) Cooking contains many of the traditional ingredients of Chinese food and Malay spices and herbs, Nonya ( Nyonya ) cuisine is
eclectically seasoned and different than either Chinese or Malay food. It is fusion cuisine at it's best! As in Malay cooking, a key
ingredient in Nonya ( Nyonya ) cuisine is belacan [ also spelt belachan or blacan ] pronounced blah-chan -
a dried shrimp paste. It's commonly in the form of a pressed brick or cake. Not overly 'fishy', a tiny amount of this paste adds sweetness to
meats, intensity to fish & seafood and a 'kick' to vegetables like Kangkung Belacan. It makes a flavorful base for sauces and
gravies, adding depth and an intriguing taste that you can't quite decipher. When uncooked, the pressed cake has a powerful scent, like "stinky
cheese", but don't be put off - it mellows out and harmonizes in the cooking, leaving behind an understated richness that cannot be reproduced.
Best described as a natural flavor enhancer, belacan is what gives many of the foods from South East Asia - Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia,
Vietnam - that authentic zest and flavor underlying the dense fabric of spice and herbs!
Nonya ( Nyonya ) cooking originating from the North - Penang, and Thailand, Nonya ( Nyonya ) cooking originating from the South - Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia, both have distinct differences.
Nonya ( Nyonya ) cooking in the South has an Indonesian influence. The food is generally sweeter, richer with liberal use of coconut milk and more traditional Malay spices. In Malacca especially, Nonya cooking is heavily influenced by Portuguese-Eurasian style of cooking. Many Nonya dishes are indistinguishable from Portuguese-Eurasian dishes, with both kitchens using similar ingredients and methods of cooking.
Nonya ( Nyonya ) cooking in the North drew inspiration from neighboring Thailand. Nonya ( Nyonya ) food in the North, has a preference for tangy or sour food such as the famous Assam Laksa. Tamarind paste is used as a souring agent as well as green mangoes and Belimbing or Belimbi [ Averrhoa Bilimbi ], a close but sourer relative of Carambola also called Starfruit. Similar to belacan but slightly sweet tasting - a black color molasses-like paste - locally called haeko [ pronounced 'hey-ko'] or Otak Udang, in Malay [ Prawn Paste, in English ] is also used in many Nonya ( Nyonya ) gastronomic creations such as Rojak [ Nonya ( Nyonya ) Salad ].
Nonya ( Nyonya ) cooking is not only about the blending of pungent roots but also the long marinating of meats and seafood before it is cooked. Fresh herbs such as lemongrass, lengkuas [ galangal or wild ginger ] and kunyit [ turmeric root ] are pounded, more often than not, by hand using a granite mortar & pestle. Chilies, candlenuts, shallots and belacan are a must in most Nonya dishes. Aromatic leaves such as kaffir lime leaves, pandan or pandanus [ screwpine leaves ], daun salam [fresh bay leaves] and daun kunyit [turmeric leaves] add 'Nonya ( Nyonya ) zest' to it's wonderful cookery.
One can easily spot authentic Nonya ( Nyonya ) food in Malaysia by its cooking such as Nonya ( Nyonya ) Laksa, Nonya ( Nyonya ) Chicken Curry, Nonya ( Nyonya ) Prawn Sambal or Nonya ( Nyonya ) Fried Rice. Nonya ( Nyonya ) food is in a unique gastronomic realm all of it's own - with specific and subtle nuances of tastes and flavors, quite undiscovered still in the international culinary world.
Nonya ( Nyonya ) cuisine is also famous for it's Kueh [ Cake or dessert ]. Nonya ( Nyonya ) desserts are varied and extraordinary. They are strongly Malay influenced - made from local ingredients such as sweet potato, yams, agar agar, gula Melaka [ palm sugar ], coconut milk, glutinous rice - and Chinese ingredients such as red beans, green beans or mung beans. The ubiquitous vanilla bean used for essence is replaced by a local plant leaf Pandan or Pandanus [ Screwpine leaves ], giving Nyonya desserts it's signature quintessence!