Mention “Nyonya Cuisine” and no one is more qualified than Chef Debbie Teoh to be associated with it. With Melaka and Penang nyonya baba genes in her, Debbie has more than 15 years in the food industry. She has authored several cook books – “Underwraps”, “Asian Tidbits”, “Nyonya Flavours”, “Authentic Nyonya Tastes” as well as being a well-respected foodie, food stylist and ambassador for the Nyonya cuisine and culture.
Chef Debbie Teoh will be cooking up a nyonya storm at Chatz Brasserie @ Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur from 13 May till 3 July 2011. I had the opportunity to sample some of her signature dishes recently, courtesy of Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur.
For starters, we had the quintessential Nyonya appetizer … Pie Tee…
The crispy pie tee cases and filling were served separately to avoid sogginess as those delicate cases were very thin and would be affected by the slightest amount of liquid. Nyonya cooking is very much about getting the right “touch”… an intricate interplay of skills, patience and that inborn “touch”. Debbie explained that the frying of the pie tee cases called for intuitive precision: the right oil temperature, the right batter and just the right length of frying time. The fillings of julienned “sengkuang” (jicama), carrots and crabmeat were delicious… eat the pie tee with a dollop of freshly-made chilli dip… I wished there was more than just 2 pie tees on my plate!
The Curry Chicken with Nasi Kunyit (tumeric-flavoured glutinuous rice) is served with Salted Fish Sambal - a nyonya twist to this popular dish…
Under Debbie’s specific instructions, this is how you should eat the Nasi Kunyit … spoon the curry over the glutinuous rice and top it with the sambal! It is the Salted Fish Sambal which lifts this dish to a whole new different level.
Next… the Buah Keluak Chicken…
A staple Nyonya dish, this was a memorable favourite. From Debbie’s elaboration on this dish, it is really a dish that has to be cooked with a lot of love. First of all, the keluak nut has to be soaked in water for at least a day, then carefully slit on one side of the hard exterior and the disc-shaped nut dug out. It is then pounded, mixed with some spices and some eggwhite as a binding agent, before putting the mixture back into the nutshell. The filled nut is then cooked with chicken in spices and herbs. All these arduous processes just for one dish – isn’t that amazing? The keluak filling has a unique piquant flavour – hmmm…. kinda nutty and “chocolatey” … very robust and interesting.
Sambal Goreng… which really didn’t fit the generally-accepted perception of “sambal”. When I saw this item on the menu, I had visions of a fiery red oily sambal as the name itself is a literal translation of “fried sambal”. Well, how wrong I was! For this Penang-originated dish, the sambal (ground spices, comprising mainly lemongrass, shallots and belacan), was fried before being cooked with coconut milk. Into the coconut milk went fresh prawns and “belimbing buluh” (bilimbi). The sourish bilimbi was an excellent in countering the richness of the coconut milk.
Hu Pio Soup (Fish Maw Soup) … the chicken stock for this soup had been simmered overnight, resulting in a sweet flavourful broth. I love the bouncy shrimp balls and spongy fish maw. This soup is a must-have dish in any Nyonya celebration meal.
Steamed Ladies Fingers – a very simple vegetable dish… the 2 accompanying dips lifted it above plain ordinariness.
For desserts we were pampered with Kuih Seri Muka… nyonya-style, with the unmistakable blue tinge… made from glutinuous rice soaked in water mixed with “bunga telang” (blue pea flower). The top layer of creamy custard was redolent with coconut and pandan flavour…a most divine combination.
I really loved the refreshing O’Giou Jelly… japanese jelly served in a yummy citrussy concoction of calamansi lime and light sweet syrup.
Debbie waited until everyone had the last slurp of the jelly before appearing with The Surprise of the Night!
Yes, she made Nyonya Chang for us! What a superb treat!
Have you ever seen a prettier Nyonya Chang? Just look at the perfect texture…
The generous filling of minced chicken, spices and chopped candied melon was practically bursting from the blue (tinged by bunga telang, of course) and white glutinuous rice layer. It’s a treat that’s really unresistible, even though you may be bursting from the seams.
Chef Debbie Teoh will be featuring her authentic Nyonya cuisine in a la carte and buffets at the Chatz Brasserie @ Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur from 13 May – 3 July 2011.
On weekdays, have a taste of Nyonya in Buffet Lunch @ RM58++ per person and Buffet Dinner @ RM78++ per person. You can also catch up with family and friends over the weekend with a lavish Nyonya Hi-Tea @ RM52++ per person.
During Father’s Day on 19 June, bring your kids over as they get to be “Little Nyonyas” whipping up some delicious dishes at the “Little Chefs Culinary Workshop with Chef Debbie Teoh”. The Father’s Day Brunch inclusive of cooking class for kids is priced at RM65++ per adult and RM32.50++ per child.
Lower Lobby Level
Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
My appreciation goes to Lilian and Mei Lan for the warm hospitality and it was thrill having Chef Debbie Teoh with us throughout the dinner!