Monday, April 18, 2011

MELAKA'S MELTING POT

A close-up view of the 'buah keluak'


The buah keluak is one tough nut to crack. Dark and mysterious with vein-like streaks, each seed from a mangrove swamp tree contains a hard and bitter kernel inside; an essential ingredient in the preparation of Ayam Buah Keluak, a typical Melaka Nyonya dish.

According to Wikipedia, the raw seeds are deadly poisonous so they have to be boiled and buried in ash, banana leaves and earth for forty days; turning the creamy white nuts to dark brown or black.
Chef William Koh from Batu Berendam, Melaka reveals that more soaking (up to 2-3 days) is necessary before the buah keluak can be used. He told us Ayam Buah Keluak is perhaps the most challenging dish in the Nyonya cuisine repertoire.

"You must know to prepare and cook the buah keluak," says Chef Koh. "The kernel has a naturally sourish tang but it turn bitter if the cook's inexperienced. I usually cut the nut on top carefully to extract the kernel and then stuff a mixture of chicken and prawn paste back into the nut shell; giving the overall dish better flavour."

Buah keluak lends its distinct flavour to the Nyonya dish of Ayam Buah Keluak

For the Melaka Nyonya Food Promotion at Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur's Melting Pot Cafe that will run until 30 April, Chef Koh will dish up a plethora of robustly flavoured specialities from his home state as part of the outlet's nightly dinner buffet.

Relish appetite-whetting salads such as Nyonya Acar, Kerabu Prawn & Mango, Kerabu Soo Hoon, Pineapple & Cucumber Salad and Kerabu Lady's Fingers complemented by assorted dips: Sambal belacan and Cincalok to get you going.

Savour the mouth-watering tanginess of the Itek Tim Soup before tucking into a freshly made piece of Nyonya Popiah. You will find it hard to resist partaking platefuls of white rice laced with rich, sumptuous curries and spicy offerings that Melaka Nyonyas are famous for: Fried Brinjal with Chillies, Deep-fried Tempra Fish, Famosa Prawns, Curry Devil Chicken, Tauchew Tauhu and Omelette Petai Onions amongst others.

Coconut is a central ingredient in many Nyonya dessert; with creamy coconut milk lending its enticingly rich taste in assorted sweet cakes known as kuihs or broths known as bubur. The grated white flesh is used as an outer coating or cooked with palm sugar to be made into a filling.

Some of the popular sweet treats include Kuih Lapis, Kuih Jagung, Cendol, Sago Gula Melaka, Bubur Cha Cha and Pulut Hitam which went supremely well with a glass of Melting Pot Cafe's trademark Teh Tarik.

The delicious albeit labour-intensive offerings we had bear ample testament to Chef Koh's skillful expertise and 16-year experience. In spite of such piquant and invigorating flavours, the chef himself admits a preference for Cantonese and Western cuisine; preferring to sit down to a good steak instead.

The Melaka Nyonya Buffet is priced at RM85++ per person and will be served from 7 pm to 10.30 pm at Melting Pot Cafe.

1 comment:

Food Dreams said...

Such a lovely spread! I m a big fan of Nyonya food.. drooling... :)