The Nonya cooking ingredient Rempah or Mixed Spices, is a ground mixture of fresh herbs and dried spices often consists of
some five or more items. Cooking with rempah is an important technique employed
by cooks in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and to a lesser extent Thailand, most
likely an influence of the Indian. There are endless Southeast Asian dishes
based on rempah, laksa, chicken curry and sambal sting ray are some of
Singapore's favourites, just to name a few. Rempah making is thus the first
thing anyone interested in Southeast Asian cooking should learn. While there are
some great favourite mixtures, there is no standard quantity and as a result
every cook has her favourite mix different from her neighbour's. Remember there
is no need to follow any recipe to its last detail. Rempah making is not a
scientific equation but an art for creative minds.
It may seem all too strange or difficult for anyone new to Southeast Asian cooking, but it is in fact rather simple once you know the basic. And the result will be an unending list of wonderful tropical dishes that are fast and easy to prepare.
Fresh and dried chillies, galangal, turmeric and lemon grass form the basis of most rempah. Garlics, ginger, coriander seeds, shrimp paste(belachan), candle nuts, dried shrimps, bean paste and many other herbs and spices are often added, depending on the dish you are preparing. Knowing the nature of each ingredients will help one create endless new mixtures according to one's liking.