Peranakan culture and cuisine is an integral part of Malacca’s appeal to travellers like me. At The Majestic Malacca, a wonderful experience crafted around the appreciation of cooking and eating is available to guests of the hotel.
My chef for the day was Chef Pow, dressed smartly in a black chef’s uniform. He presented the menu for the day, Chicken Pongteh, Prawn Masak Lemak and Cincalok Omelette and let me read through the recipes for each item. The combination of herbs, spices and local ingredients is typical of much of Malacca’s cuisine.
The first item prepared was the Chicken Pongteh, a traditional Nyonya dish of chicken, potatoes and an interesting local ingredient, taucu or fermented bean paste, lending the everyman’s combination of chicken and potatoes a Peranakan twist. This dish was prepared first then left to simmer on the side to allow the flavours to meld and infuse the chicken and potatoes.
Chock-full of tangy pineapple chunks and succulent prawns, the Prawn Masak Lemak starts with a fragrant puree that includes shallots, lemongrass, chillies, turmeric and garlic. We stirred this concoction in saucepan, letting it sizzle and releasing wonderful aromas into the air. Then wedges of golden pineapple are added along with several large prawns and set aside to simmer while we prepared the last dish.
Tiny shrimps are fermented with salt and rice, resulting in the pungent-smelling regional speciality, cincalok. First, two eggs are whisked to incorporate the cincalok. The Cincalok Omelette is assembled by sauteeing julienned carrots, spring onions and cucumber then the egg mixture is poured over to form the omelette. After a quick flip, the three dishes prepared are served with fluffy white rice for a food tasting session in The Lounge.
Upon conclusion of the cooking class, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could keep the chef's hat and apron as a memento of the experience. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, gaining new culinary skills and also learning a lot about the flavours and ingredients of Peranakan Cuisine. The evening ended with a full stomach and new recipes to try at home.
The Peranakan Culinary Journey at The Majestic Malacca is available upon request and priced at MYR250 nett per person, from 3.00pm to 5.30pm.