IMAGE SOURCE: VIOLET’S KITCHEN
There’s just no overstating how much Singaporeans love their food. Eating is a way of life unto itself, judging by the traffic at 24-hour hawker centres and food joints that seem to be everywhere on the island. Even more telling, is how easily words like “shiok”, “rojak” or “chope” that originate from hawker culture have slipped into the local vernacular. In fact, some might say the absence of a homogenous Singaporean identity has manifested in a shared passion for food.
Of all the flavours of Singapore, Peranakan cuisine stands out as one of the most special. And if you’re after something truly spectacular, you’ll have to try Babi Pongteh. A classic nyonya delicacy, Babi Pongteh is a non-spicy dish of braised pork flavoured with fermented soya beans (tau cheo) that is customarily served at all Peranakan formal celebrations. From a tender age, Nyonya girls learn how to cook this dish from their mothers. It becomes part of their own legacies and passed on to the next willing student.
You won’t face any such pressure but by all means, try it out for yourself with this recipe by Peranakan food doyenne, Violet Oon. Luscious chunks of pork belly are slow-braised in the fermented soya bean paste and dark soy sauce till meltingly soft and tender. The result is equal parts sweet and savoury; an unctuous stew permeated with umami flavour and subtle spice. Mop up any remaining gravy with slices of French baguette or slather over steamed rice for a comforting meal that will fill you with warmth. Why, it’s sure to be a fast favourite on the family dinner table!