Keeping the fire of his Peranakan tradition burning high and bright this Lunar New Year, executive chef Damian D’Silva of Folklore is showcasing age-old recipes to celebrate the festival of spring. Lunar New Year is a much awaited and significant occasion for Chef Damian’s maternal Peranakan family. A festival where his Peranakan grandmother would be working in the kitchen, months ahead, preparing a celebratory feast for visiting friends and relatives.
Chef Damian reminisced the early days of helping his grandma and mother in the kitchen. “I was child labour,” Chef quipped. “But I know it would be an amazing feast on New Year’s day. And this Lunar New Year, I want to share the nostalgia of how we celebrate this special occasion, and will be making dishes that are very important to my family and I.”
Exclusively from 4 to 19 February, embark on this nostalgic reunion merriment, and savour the labour of love specially presented by Chef Damian.
Introducing Sayur Beremi (vegetable beremi), this forgotten leafy vegetable originates from Indonesia, and bears resemblance to alfalfa with a bittersweet note. In Chef Damian’s family, this vegetable is served as a cold appetiser, immersed in a savoury broth made from prawn stock, chillies, tamarind and local spices.
Another lesser known produce is the Sayur Kailo, also endearingly referred to as Drumstick – due to the shape of its pod. This harvested gourd from the Moringa Tree features a long bean pod and is an excellent accompaniment to dishes with thick sauce or gravy, as the pod takes on fully the flavours of the base sauces. For this festive fare, the drumstick is slowcooked with pork ribs in rich curry steeped with coconut milk.
Banana Bud Salad, featuring Jantung Pisang Batu or Stone Banana Heart, brings forth a refreshing piquant respite from the opulent feast. The blossoming bud of the Stone Banana heirloom species to the modern-cultivated fruit, is usually used in Indonesian rojak or savoury salads. The bud peels off in layers like an artichoke, is boiled till cooked and then tossed with fresh prawns and a savoury sauce of coconut milk, chillies, sambal, sugar and lime.
Peranakan Mee Siam is a luscious bowl of comforting classic staple. A good mee siam paste lays the strong foundation to a scrumptious vermicelli dish. Chef Damian’s recipe features a bold mee siam paste of an aromatic blend of onions, chillies, shallots and candlenuts. Vermicelli is fried with the paste, together with the thick broth that is slow-cooked with fermented bean paste, dried shrimps, prawn broth, and then finished off with lime juice. The spicy, sweet, and tangy noodle dish is served with fresh prawns and hard-boiled egg.
Garang Assam with You Tiao is a dish enjoyed on the second day of Chinese New Year in Chef Damian’s family. His grandma would visit the market in the morning to purchase freshly fried dough fritters to complement the moreish dish. Enjoying with you tiao brings an enhanced level of indulgence, as the crispy breadstick soaks up the rich flavours of the wholesome gravy and delivers an incredibly satiating experience.
Specially curated to foster togetherness during this special occasion – the “Do-It-Yourself” Popiah Set – good for four diners, features generous servings of popiah filling, such as the meticulously hand-shredded turnip, bamboo shoot, pork belly cooked in prawn and pork stock, an array of condiments like the minced and fried garlic, chilli paste, sweet flour sauce, shredded egg, crabmeat and prawn, as well as ten large house-made popiah skins. The hearty set brings the joy of coming together to prepare and enjoy a meal around the dining table with family and friends.
A Peranakan festive must-have, signifying wealth and luck, is the Peranakan Prawn Salad. The refreshing appetiser features poached prawns topped on a bed of fresh Chinese lettuce leaves, drizzled with chilli plum sauce and lime juice.
The Kueh Platter brings a sweet end to the meal with chef’s daily selection of kuehs, a showcase of four kinds of handmade traditional Peranakan desserts. Expect vibrant fare such as Apom Berkuah – pancakes served with sweet potato sauce and sliced banana, Ondeh Ondeh – a popular classic snack of sweet glutinous rice ball encased with freshly grated coconut, filled with gula Melaka, as well as other perennial favourites which include Kueh Kosui, Kueh Talam Keladi –yam cake, Kueh Salat – pandan pudding with glutinous rice cake, and Ang Ku Kueh with peanut and mung bean paste fillings.
Folklore’s Chinese New Year menu will be available for lunch and dinner from 4 to 19 February 2019. Festive meal takeaways are available with an advance booking of 5 working days from 30 January to 19 February.