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.

Each has over 300 authentic recipes which are complemented by beautiful photographs.

Bee Lee has been on the SBS Food Lovers Guide tv program and was a food consultant at major food events in Australia.

She operated her own restaurant in Perth and conducted cooking classes.

Her inspiration is her late mother's recipe book which she refers to all the time.

She has also collected traditional recipes from elderly nyonyas in Malaysia and cooked with them.

"Sharing food is an expression of love, so let's eat together and cook together," Bee Lee says.

Penang Nyonya Cuisine and Penang Authentic Nyonya Cuisine by Bee Lee Tan are for sale at A$75 for both books, postage extra.

For more information email Bee Lee at

Meanwhile, try this delicious soup recipe.

Kong Ah Sam by Bee Lee Tan

500g bitter mustard greens

125g salted mustard green

1 stalk lemongrass – bruised, use the white part only

1/2 cup tamarind water- made from 50-cent piece of tamarind paste, soaked in warm water and strained

3 dried chillies, soaked in warm water and drained

4 cups water

1 roasted pork trotter or 300gm roast pork- chop into big chunks

Salt to taste

Boil water with lemongrass and chilli for 10 minutes. Add pork and tamarind water. When the meat is nearly cooked, add both mustard greens and salt to taste.

Serve hot with steamed rice.