Penang Nyonya

Penang Nyonya

Chef and author Bee Lee Tan was born into a Peranakan (Straits Chinese) family.

"I come from a family of exceptionally good cooks," Bee Lee said.

"As a child I was very curious about cooking, but my family banned me from the kitchen."

Her passion for cooking overcame this initial hiccup and she is now an acomplished chef and cookbook author, specialising in Peranakan or Nyonya cooking.

She lives in Penang, Malaysia, and has written two cookbooks, Penang Nyonya Cuisine and Penang Authentic Nyonya Cuisine.

Laksa lockdown 2

Laksa lockdown 2

Marvellous Muffins

As the pandemic turns us all into culinary creatives or kitchen tragics, here are two marvellous muffin recipes from my cheffing pals.

Felix Heng from Singapore is a versatile chef who makes fabulous Peranakan (Straits Chinese) dishes, as well as delicious desserts, cakes and cookies.

I met Felix at a sad occasion, my beloved brother-in-law Alan's memorial.

Felix was Alan's classmate from primary school all through high school and he credits Alan with inspiring him to learn drawing.

Chinese New Year 2020

Chinese new year 2020


Chinese new year starts on Saturday, January 25, and this is the year of the golden rat.

The chinese zodiac has five elements, earth, wood, water, fire and metal, and this year it's the year of the white metal rat.

Birth years of the Rat are 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 and 2020.

Some famous rodents include President Kennedy, Scarlett Johansen, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Eminem, Katy Perry, William Shakespeare, Mozart, Charlotte Bronte, Truman Capote and Mata Hari.

Foolproof roast pork belly

If you're looking for a delicious meal at Easter, and I don't mean chocolate eggs, try this delicious recipe from Australian Pork.

Foolproof roast pork belly

1kg Australian pork belly

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp flaked salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Remove roast from the packaging and pat dry with paper towel.

    With a small sharp knife, deeply score the rind at 1cm intervals, being careful to not cut into the meat.

    Recipe for Southern Fried Okra

    I had heard of Felix Heng's cooking long before I met him.

    He was a good friend and classmate of my beloved late brother in law, Alan and it was Alan who taught him how to draw when they were in primary school.

    A peranakan (Straits Chinese), Felix enjoys everything cultural and culinary.

    His Singaporean creations and cakes brought a lot of comfort when Alan was suffering from his illness.

    Felix has generously shared a recipe with us.

    Recipe - Cumquat jam

    Cumquat jam

    My friend Julie Walker recently gave me a bunch of cumquats (also known as kumquats), fresh from her tree.

    I thought the intense citrus flavour would be best enjoyed by making the fruit into a jam, so here is my own recipe for cumquat jam.

    Some recipes involve boiling and then straining the fruit, squeezing the pulp in a piece of muslin and then adding sugar.

    It sounded all too fiddly for me and I prefer my jam with more body, anyway, so here's my take, jam-packed with pulp and all.

    Thanks, Julie!

    1 cup cumquats, washed

    Recipe - Chicken larb

    I was wondering what to cook for dinner (my daily dilemma) when I saw chicken mince on special and decided to cook up that Thai favourite, chicken larb or salad.

    Served with steamed rice, it was the perfect dish for a warm summer evening.

    The sweet-sour-salty-spicy combination soon had the tastebuds tingling, so here is my take on this popular salad.

    Any mince can be used, including seafood, pork or quail.

    Thai chicken larb

    Serves 4

    1 tbsp peanut oil

    4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely

    Recipe request for Roasted Cauliflower

    My niece and fellow foodie Jong-Ee Kao was keen to try my roasted cauliflower recipe, so here it is.

    Roasted cauliflower with lemon and mustard

    adapted from Neil Perry's recipe

    Serves 4

    1 head cauliflower

    2 tbsp plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 tsp salt

    ½ tsp sugar

    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or to taste

    1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

    1 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed and drained

    1 tbsp chopped flat parsley leaves


    Put oven rack on the middle shelf and preheat to 220 degrees C.

    Spicy saucy aubergine recipe

    I was privileged to meet my facebook foodie friend Hee Heng, recently, in Melbourne.

    We were introduced by my late brother in law Alan Chionh via facebook when Hee Heng started a new venture as restaurateur and head chef of Chuup restaurant, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    After an illustrious career, he cashed out of a business he owned and retired.

    “Sharing my mom's family cooking was something I always wanted to do and my retirement gave me the time to pursue what I love to do.” he said.

    Happy Easter

    Happy Easter, everyone.

    Here's recipe for a leisurely Easter lunch or dinner from Australian Pork.

    Pesto crusted pork rack

    5 or 6 cutlet pork loin rack roast, rind removed

    1 cup basil pesto

    1 cup grated parmesan cheese

    1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

    1 tbsp olive oil

    To serve

    crisp roast potatoes

    rocket salad

    fresh basil leaves to garnish

    Pre-heat oven to 190 deg C.

    Wrap the cutlet bones in foil to prevent burning.


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