Tag Archives: assam

Blue Ginger

Assam fish head curry

My family’s roots are Peranakan, and I am always in search of good nonya food – Straits-Chinese food heavily influenced by Malay cuisine and their wonderful spices.

Blue Ginger has been around in Singapore for many years – I vaguely recall eating there years ago when I was in my mid-20s but in those days, drinking was far more important to me than food. It’s not that alcohol has become less important, it’s just that these days food is of equal (dare I say if not more) importance.

We went recently with my visiting mum, who is ever-wanting yet one of the fiercest critics of Peranakan restaurants, and it passed with flying colours on all counts.

They have a simple menu with classic Nonya dishes, like fish-head curry (in either a rich coconut or more sour tamarind base), Ngo Heong – homemade rolls of minced pork and prawns seasoned with five-spices, wrapped and deep-fried and beef rendang – braised beef in rich coconut milk spiced with ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves till tender

Deep fried eggplant with a fresh chilli paste and sweet soya sauce

There were two standout dishes we had – assam (tamarind) fish head curry and the sambal terong goreng – deep-fried eggplant.

The fish head curry came in a complex broth that was a perfect balance of sweet and sour, with the red snapper steamed to perfect tenderness. Give me just that and a large bowl of rice, and I would be a happy girl.

But a girl’s also got to eat her vegetables, and although not the healthiest dish, the eggplant slices were flash fried so almost crispy on the outside but still juicy and moist inside, and smothered in a luminous fresh chilli paste and sweet soya sauce.

Spicy ? Hell, yeah ! But that’s what it’s all about.

It’s a small restaurant, and not surprisingly, very popular, so if you want to go, either for lunch or dinner, I’d strongly recommend booking ahead.

Blue Ginger
97 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore
Tel: +65 6222 3928

Open 7 days
Lunch : 12.00pm to 2.30pm
Dinner : 6.30pm to 10.30pm


Peramakan

Udang goreng assam – tamarind prawns

After a week of eating local food with my visiting family, serving food that makes the entire table go “yum” is no small feat, something that Peramakan managed to do last night.

We’ve been there before and made the mistake of ordering dishes with the same curry sauce but with different ingredients – eg eggplant, ladies fingers, chicken, prawns etc.  But with a little planning (and a check with the wait staff) you can have a table full of completely different curries.  My dad commented that it seemed hard to believe that curry with the same base ingredients of onions, garlic and chilli, can taste so different from dish to dish.

Beef rendang

We ordered the beef rendang – beef that has been slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices for hours until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, which allows the meat to absorb the spicy condiments.  It’s a classic nonya dish and Peramakan does it very well.

We also ordered ikan panggang – half a baby red snapper marinaded in spices and grilled, served on a banana leaf.  Think chilli stingray but with fish – delicious.  The peranakan fried rice was also great – a simple dish of rice fried with dry prawns, eggs, squids, prawns and sambal belachan, garnished with sliced red chillies, fried shallots and coriander/spring onions.

The udang goreng assam or tamarind prawns were also a hit – fried whole prawns still in the shell and then covered in a sticky sweet tamarind sauce.

If you’re looking for delicious and authentic Peranakan food, this is the place to head to.

Peramakan
Level 3, Keppel Club
10 Bukit Chermin Road
Singapore 109918
(5 minutes drive from Vivo City/HarbourFront)

Tel: 65 63772829

Open everyday, including Sundays and public holidays for lunch and dinner.
Lunch: 11:30 am to 3:00 pm (last order: 2:30 pm)
Dinner: 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm (last order: 9:30 pm


Grandma’s Kitchen

Assam fish head curry

We’ve been to Grandma’s Kitchen in Paragon a few times before, and have always loved the delicious local fare they offer there.

During peak times it gets loud and noisy there but it’s a great place if you’ve got a big crowd and/or have children (who will add to the noise and other diners won’t mind as much).  This is the situation we had, when my 2 1/2 year old niece was visiting.

I have to say that for a chain restaurant, the food they serve is pretty good – probably not the most authentic, but the variety they offer is terrific and tastes great !

Salt-egg prawns

The usual suspects were ordered – rendang beef, curry chicken, nasi lemak, chicken wings, chicken rice – and this time we had a group large enough to order the assam fish head curry.  They only serve this as a large shared dish and the whole table was impressed.  With no coconut cream/milk, the curry had a good tangy sourness from the assam (tamarind) with a generous serving of fish head (red snapper), eggplant and ladies fingers.  The version with coconut cream added is more popular but guess my Penang heritage makes me just love the clear version sans coconut cream that is almost consomme-like.

Hainanese chicken rice

We also had the Hainanese chicken rice, where the chicken comes delicately seasoned with a dressing of light soya sauce, sesame oil, coriander and shallots.  The chicken was beautifully cooked as well, on the right side of just cooked, with the meat soft and almost slippery.

One of the more unusual dishes we ordered was salt-egg prawns, where the prawns are dipped in a salt-egg batter before being quickly fried so that the prawns come out delicately and saltily crispy.

Another local restaurant staple where you can make reservations, and that doubles as a nice respite from Orchard Road madness 🙂

Grandma’s Kitchen Paragon
Paragon Shopping Centre
290 Orchard Road
B1/42-43
Tel: 6737 7931
Open daily 11.30am – 10.00pm