Traditional & Contemporary Peranakan Cuisine
Price: Average $22 to $28 per head
Dress Code: Business, Smart Casual
We cater to vegetarians and customers with dietary requirements.
Please call 63772829 or 62701618 for reservations or enquiries.
Some years ago, a restaurant guest from Penang asked if our restaurant has this dish “Buah Paya Masak Titek”. Her companion, a Singaporean asked if this dish was named after the shape of the papaya (the tip that looks like a nipple). It was really funny because I had not thought that the name could have come from that. The dish should be pronounced “Titek” and not “tetek” which would have made any modest Nyonya blush! So what is this dish, you might ask?
Born and bred a Nyonya, I had been taught from a young age, the intricacies of Nyonya cooking including choosing the right ingredients for the dish. My mother would frown if ripe papayas or the white part of the watermelon were used in this dish. Anyway, there are no hard and fast rules, people are entitled to cook what they like. But to the true-blue Peranakan connoisseurs, a young unripe papaya is a must, and cooked to the right tenderness. The soup must be robust, with the right amount of heat and fragrance which comes from the well pan-roasted, rough-ground white peppercorns. That’s not the only thing. The soup should not smell fishy from the bones of the salted ikan kurau (salted, dried threadfin) used to flavor the soup. My mother who is a fastidious cook will wash the bones clean, dry them and then blanched them in hot oil before throwing them into the soup to boil together with a spice base of pounded belachan, red chillies, shallots and candlenuts. The belachan has to be toasted till fragrant before being pounded together with the other ingredients while still hot from the toasting. Then comes the “piece de la resistance” the toasted white peppercorns, roughly ground. If well done, the dish will be fragrant with the right amount of spiciness. Next comes the prawn stock. The prawn shells are fried in high heat till fragrant, then pounded till fine. It is then mixed with hot water and strained to extract the juice. The stock comprising of the dried fish bones, the spice base and prawn stock is allowed to simmer till the flavor breaks out. The bones are removed & discarded, and the papaya added and left to braise to just the right tenderness. Lastly, the prawns are added just before serving with a generous bunch of lemon basil atop the dish.
In a Nyonya home, this well-balanced dish alone is enough for a meal and guaranteed to make one eat more than his fair share of rice. And of course, don’t forget the sambal belachan which my mother refers to as the perfect pairing for this already spicy dish. In November, Buah Paya Masak Titek is one of the four dishes that makes up a set meal for two or four persons. Book your table at PeraMakan Keppel Club (62701618 or 63772829) to enjoy this this set meal from 01st to 30th November only.