Ever since I met Lee Khang Yi of Flavours magazine, she's always referred to "Debbie", this mysterious celebrity chef, who concocts her own recipes, and I've always wondered in awe, what kind of culinary goddess is this, who pontificates and produces recipes on a whim.
So, when given the opportunity to sample her cooking, AND meet her in real life, I promptly and unceremoniously dumped my early appointment on that date, the way you'd bump off a fat man in an overloaded elevator, and RSVP-ed yes yes, please let me come. Actually, no, at first when I saw the invite, I moaned and groaned that I had a prior commitment. After mulling about it awhile, I decided, heck, its time to jettison the fat man from the elevator.
Actually this feast is a precursor to "A Touch Of Nyonya Influence by Debbie Teoh", at the Chatz Brasserie, Parkroyal Hotel KL. Basically the dishes we sampled would be available, and more, at the buffet spread at Chatz.
A lovely Nyonya spread waits like a bride about to be photographed.
Kunyit (Tumeric) Rice with Curry Chicken. An old time favourite, which I personally associate with Baby's full moon parties. Fragrant glutinous rice with a subtle flavouring of fresh tumeric.
Who knew lady's fingers could be so gorgeous. I mean, the vegetable. The glorious green juxtaposed against the dipping sauces that look so simple, but taste so fabulous. It really is a wonder how flavoursome this simple combination can be.
Ayam Buah Keluak. No one knows what Keluak is in English, so it probably didnt exist in the English speaking world. It is a fascinating nut, to borrow Adly's (Fried Chillies) description, you cant even crack it open if you drove your car over it. The secret to uncracking this tough nut is to soak it overnight in water. A good spa relaxes everyone. Including tough nuts.
It is a laborious labour of love, rehabilitating these tough nuts, lovingly scraping them out, and putting them back in, till it imparts a lovely earthy nutty flavour to the curry.
This dish, despite its white colour, is called Sambal Goreng. A luscious coconut gravy with crispy cashews and deep fried garlic slithers, with fresh prawns. I have to say the main problem with Nyonya food is the unstoppable desire to eat more rice. The green stuff is "belimbing" or carambola, like a baby starfruit. It adds an interesting tangy dimension to counter the richness of the coconut.
The ever popular pie tee. Making these top hats is a labour of love. As Debbie expained, too hot and too long, the batter will stick to the mould, too short, and the top hats crumble. The filling of turnip and crabmeat!!! Wow, where to find!
Hu Pio Soup (Fish Maw) - a lovely clear broth that would be good for the soul I am sure. The stock is a chicken stock. So definitely its good for the soul.
Seri Muka, beautifully colored with the natural blue dyes from the Bunga Telang. (Clitoria something something in English)....The intense flavour of the pandan (Screwpine) complemented the glutinous rice and makes for a lovely dessert. I didn't manage to capture the picture of the other dessert, a lovely lovely refreshing jelly O Giou Jelly, served in a tangy calamansi drink. It takes skill like that of Pureglutton to capture the jelly. See her post HERE.
As a surprise for us, Debbie (bless her) had made for us special Nyonya Chang. That lovely chang that is my favourite amongst all dumplings, with its lovely blue tinge, minced meat (usually the porkie, but today it was the all politically correct meat, chickin!), that slight sweetness.... I'm proud to say despite having eaten the full nyonya course and dessert, I could still tuck in AN ENTIRE DUMPLING cos it was just sooooo goood! Usually a chang would have sent me straight into a food coma, but this one was suprisingly light, as there was more "liu" than rice.
So head over to Chatz if you want a taste of Debbie's fabulous nyonya cuisine. Promo runs from now till 3rd July.
She's highly photogenic as well, and looks resplendent in her kebaya. I am tempted to say move aside Nigella, I've found a new idol, but well, I think I can find space on the pedestal for two idols.
Thanks LKY for allowing me to partake in this fabulous meal!