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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Dishes from a president's kitchen

Members of the public will be able to taste the home-cooked Peranakan fare enjoyed by family and friends of Singapore's former president, the late Mr Wee Kim Wee.
The Straits Times - October 11, 2012
By: Rebecca Lynne Tan
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Dishes from a president's kitchen Satay Ayam Goreng Rempah Titek is served with sambal nanas and rice at the Fullerton Hotel dinner organised with Mr Wee Kim Wee’s daughter, Ms Wee Eng Hwa. -- PHOTOS: THE FULLERTON HOTEL SINGAPORE, ST FILE

For the first time, members of the public will be able to taste the home-cooked Peranakan fare enjoyed by family and friends of Singapore's former president, the late Mr Wee Kim Wee.

Over five nights next week, from Tuesday to Saturday, diners can tuck into six of Mrs Wee Kim Wee's tried-and-tested recipes at Town restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel. The dinner is priced at $68 a person.

The meal starts with a Pong Towhu soup, with julienned bamboo shoots and beancurd, prawn and pork balls, followed by a freshly rolled popiah.

Other dishes include Itek Sinyoh or duck braised with coriander powder, served with pickles and steamed rice; Satay Ayam Goreng Rempah Titek, chicken in a thick, spiced coconut milk gravy served with a pineapple sambal and steamed rice; and Nyonya Mee or braised Hokkien noodles, a dish usually served on birthdays and other celebratory events.

Mrs Wee's daughter, Ms Wee Eng Hwa, a lawyer, spent last week teaching chefs at the restaurant each of the six recipes, to her mother's exacting standards.

This involved everything from how to prepare and pickle the radish, carrot and ginger for Lobak Assam Mani, which involves kneading the cut vegetables in salt for 10 minutes before squeezing out the excess water by hand. The chefs, including sous chef Sunny de Costa, also had to learn how to julienne cucumber the way her mother had taught her.

Ms Wee, 70, tells Life!: "The texture, appearance and taste of every dish is very important. Even how the cucumber is cut and julienned can change the texture of the dish."

She learnt to cook Peranakan fare from her mother, born Koh Sok Hiong, who is now 96 years old. The recipes were from Mrs Wee's maternal grandmother.

The recipes and preparation methods, including how to cut and julienne, can be found in Cooking For The President, a cookbook which Ms Wee compiled two years ago.

The self-published book, which took 21 years to complete, features over 200 recipes and their variations, and is now into its second edition. It is available at major bookstores and costs $115.56.

The hospitable Wees are well known for hosting parties, treating guests with home-cooked Peranakan fare.

In fact, a dinner party at the Wee's family home in Siglap is how the tie-up between Ms Wee and The Fullerton Hotel came about. The hotel's general manager, Mr Giovanni Viterale, had been invited to attend Mrs Wee's 96th birthday dinner about two months ago.

It was the first time he had tasted Peranakan food, and he was immediately drawn to the heritage and delicate flavours of the cuisine.

He says: "While I was enjoying it, I was thinking to myself how great this would be at The Fullerton Hotel."

The menu was designed by Ms Wee to include some of her great grandmother's specialities, in particular the popiah and the Nyonya Mee.

She says: "Nyonya Mee is usually eaten at birthdays to celebrate life, and that is what this meal is - it is about celebrating life."

Book it

COOKING FOR THE PRESIDENT

What: Six-course Peranakan dinner featuring the food of Mrs Wee Kim Wee

Where: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Town Restaurant

When: Next Tuesday to Saturday, 7 to 10.30pm

Price: $68 a person

Info: For inquiries and reservations, call 6877-8128 or e-mail town@fullerton.com

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