This dish is a staple Peranakan (Straits-Chinese) favourite that is truly memorable for its acquired yet robust flavour and taste. Strong traditions have resulted in this golden recipe being passed down from generation to generation, making it a truly authentic Peranakan dish.
Made with chicken pieces (and sometimes pork) combined with “keluak” nuts (an atypical type of nut which comes with a tough shell exterior, but oozes a piquant liquid inside), it produces an appealing yet unique flavor that must be tasted to be believed.
The dish isn’t a simple one to make; the rempah (pounded spices) alone is made of seven ingredients and takes half a day to fry.
Then, you have to scrub every nut, soak it in water for two days, chop off one end of the nut and dig out the black flesh inside. Then you have to pound or blend it with some spices. You have to neaten the nut’s opening with a cutter so that it’s presentable before you put the flesh back in (phew, what hard labour!).
Finally, you put the stuffed nuts, chicken and rempah on a simmer for another half a day until the sauce thickens. Now that takes a lot of work. So how about rewarding the hard work by trotting down to one of several Peranakan dining institutions to try it.
Restaurants like The Blue Ginger, Spice Peranakan (if you have the time to venture out into the suburb of Buona Vista) and Baba Inn & Lounge are some of the best Peranakan restaurants serving this dish in Singapore, which is not commonly found at typical eateries.
The dish is best eaten with a bowl of steamed rice, chincalok egg (fermented shrimp omelette) and sambal kangkong (water spinach); a truly heady combination if ever there was one.