Saturday, December 3, 2011

12 Days of Baba Nyonya Christmas - Alvin Oon

Ibrahim Ali, not that loud-mouthed bugger we all loathe, but a gentleman from Klang, alerted us to Alvin's latest performance. Thanks Ib.

Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago of Nusantara during the Colonial era. More details HERE.

For a glimpse of the Baba-Nonya customs and tradition visit the opulent Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Here’s the list of what Alvin’s Sayang (love) gave to him for Xmas:

1. The Main Wayang Company is Singapore’s first professional Peranakan cultural arts & community theatre, group.

2. Cincalok is made of fermented small shrimps or krill. It is usually served as a condiment together with chillis, shallots and lime juice. It is similar to Bagoong Alamang in the Philippines. HERE Baba Ee, a cincalok and belacan expert, gives us a few pointers on what to look out for when picking good quality cincalok.

3. To secure a blouse, the Nyonyas used two types of Kerosang. The first was a set of three circular brooches, used for the baju panjang. The more elaborate designs usually featured a heart-shaped kerosang ibu and two kerosang anak. The second type of kerosang also consists of three brooches. They were to be worn with the baju kebaya. The shapes of the kerosangs were elongated rather than round and the individual brooches were joined together by ornamental chains to form a kerosang rantai. More details HERE.

4. Buah Keluak is a black seed from Pangium edule (Indonesian: keluak or keluwak; Malay: kepayang), a tall tree native to the mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia. The fresh fruit and seeds contain hydrogen cyanide and are deadly poisonous if consumed without prior preparation. The seeds are first boiled and then buried in ash, banana leaves and earth for forty days, during which time, they turn from a creamy white colour to dark brown or black. The method relies on the fact that the hydrogen cyanide released by the boiling and fermentation is water soluble and easily washed out. In Singapore and Malaysia, the seeds are best known as an essential ingredient in ayam (chicken) or babi (pork) buah keluak, a mainstay of Peranakan cuisine. More details HERE.

5. Cherki, a card game which consists of many Hokkien and Baba Malay words. It has 60 cards (30 different patterns, each one repeated twice), each measuring approximately 60mm X 24mm in size. To play the game, 2 packs/decks are required, so that each single card will be repeated four times. How to play, visit Peranakan Life

6. Gula Melaka, otherwise known in English as Palm Sugar or 'Malacca Sugar', was originally made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm, the date palm or sugar date palm (Phoenix sylvestris). Now it is also made from the sap of the sago, arenga pinnata and coconut palms. Gula melaka is made by first extracting the sap from the flower bud. Several slits are cut into the bud and a pot is tied underneath the bud to collect the sap. Then, the sap is boiled until it thickens after which, in the traditional way, it is poured into bamboo tubes between 3-5 inches in length, and left to solidify to form cylindrical cake blocks. Gula melaka is used in some savoury dishes but mainly in the local desserts and cakes of the Southeast Asian region.

7. Sambal Belacan consists of chilies, belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste), kalamansi lime (limau kasturi), and salt and sugar (to taste or optional). Myfoodilicious has uploaded a recipe or you can simply purchase a Gimson off the shelf.Link

8. Kasut Manik refers to beaded slippers worn by a nyonya to complete her Sarong Kebaya outfit, together with chained brooches (kerosang) and a silver belt (tali pendeng). Craftpassion shows how to bead your own kasut manik. My wife, Mei, simply picked up a pair from Joyce of J. Manik at Jalan Hang Lekir (Jalan Jonker Street), Melaka

9. Kain Sarong – a garment consisting of a length of printed cloth wrapped about the waist that is worn by men and women in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Pacific islands.

10. Otak-otak is a cake made of fish meat. It is widely known across Southeast Asia, where it is traditionally served fresh, wrapped inside banana leaf. Otak means brains in Indonesian and Malay, and the name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish some what resembles brains, being grey, soft and almost squishy.

11. Congkak is a mancala game played in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Southern Thailand, and some parts of Sumatra and Borneo. We’ll let Rachelle, Lutfiyya and John show you how to play this game.

12. Ondeh-ondeh is sweet potato or glutinous rice flour dough infused with pandan (screwpine leaf) juice, filled with Gula Melaka. These are boiled in water and then coated with fresh grated coconut. Here’s Baking Mum’s recipe.

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