Peranakan food is meaty. You need only to look at its iconic dishes – ayam buah keluak, beef rendang, babi pongteh – to know that this is true. So when Raymond Khoo, the executive chef of The Peranakan, was brainstorming new ways to make the cuisine more approachable, he went in an unexpected direction: vegan and green Peranakan dishes. “Having Peranakan cuisine would never cross the mind of a vegan,” he says.
It took Raymond over six years to create the meatless menu. Papaya is used to flavour the broth in the sup bakwan kepiting, and seaweed is used in place of dried shrimp to make the samba belachan served with the vegan Tok Panjang (from $48). Meat-free substitutes also go into dishes like tau you bake chilli crabless cakes, and ikan-less asam peas. “It helps that we create a solid rempah that contributes to the flavours of the dishes,” he says. Even desserts like the kueh bingka is made with vegan butter.
Raymond hopes that his creations spark greater curiosity about Nonya food— not just within the health and sustainability-conscious crowd. “Peranakan food certainly isn’t top-of-mind when it comes to eating out,” he shares. Still, Raymond continues cooking it. “The cuisine is a painstaking labour of love, owing to the slow cooking process,” he says. “No Shortcuts.”
TRY THIS Tok Panjang Bibik set ($48). The grand vegan feast features nine different dishes, including mutton rending, ayam pongteh, kueh pie tee, and nasi ulam.