Refined Peranakan cusine – rich in heritage and flavours.
As we celebrate our nation’s golden jubilee, we like to think that there’s really no better way than to enjoy the occasion with good food, especially good food with heritage and for that, we’re here at The Clifford Pier.
Here, we can find the restaurant’s SG50 ‘Singapore’s Culinary Grande Dames’ menu showcased by local F&B personality Shermay Lee. The ambience at The Clifford Pier in The Fullerton Bay Hotel is nothing short of lovely and so elegant its a wonder how they’ve managed to retain the original architecture of the jetty in 1930s.
Mrs Lee’ Peranakan Popiah ($26 for 2 persons). Popiah is teochew for ‘thin pancake’ and its paper-thin crepe like ‘wrapper’ is usually filled with cooked turnip and prawns. The recipe for this popiah comes from Shermay’s grandmother (the late Mrs. Lee Chin Koon) and is served the traditional way where the ingredients are presented on a plater.
It’s a do-it-yourself set and you can start off with either the crepe-like egg skins or the regular rice skins. Shermay shared that peranakans often use egg skins for their popiah, the egg skin is thicker, smoother and have more bite to it than the rice skin, it also filled me up pretty quickly.
Choose your skin, spread the sweet sauce and Shermay’s cilicuka which hits all the right spot and fill it with the delicious slow braised turnip. The juicy turnip is cooked with bean paste, prawns, bean paste and simmered for an hour to utter perfection – the result is also a darker hue and richer flavour turnip. Sprinkle on the rest of the ingredients – hard-boiled egg, crab meat, prawns, coriander leaves, julienned cucumber, lap cheong, roll everything up and you’re good to go.
I appreciate how the lap cheong are julienned as that is easier to chew and ensures that there’s lap cheong in every mouthful. The leftover ingredients can be used to make Kueh Pie Tee and the shells are all homemade !
Mrs Handy’s Fish Kedegree ($26). Kedgeree is a traditional breakfast dish from colonial India but it makes a yummy dish for anytime of the day too. There’s some similarities to Thai fried rice, probably because of the tang from the lemon juice and the mix of spices.
The fragrant fried rice has very generous amount of chunks fish and is served accompanied by house made tomato chutney, nonya achar and Shermay’s signature Cilicuka. The additional of Cilicuka heightens the overall taste resulting in a marriage of fragrant and sour-spicy notes.
Mrs Handy’s Itek Sio ($26). Itek Sio is a classic Peranakan braised duck dish which is usually served during special occasions. Although this dish does not contain many exotic ingredients and looks simple, it is anything but that and involves a painstaking cooking process.
The dish gives of a delicious aroma which is the combination of cinnamon and brandy. The duck meat has to go through a 2 hour slow cook process to achieve that melting tenderness and throughly coated with the thick sauce. To cut through all that richness, Shermay served this dish with a tangy house made pineapple chutney.
Mrs Leong’s Fish Curry ($23). Fresh, sourish and a little watered down is the Mrs Leong’s rendition of the fish curry but for a watered down curry, it’s surprisingly quite hearty and will definitely please those of us who is not that into spicy food and for those chilli lovers, there’s always Shermay’s Cilicuka. Having fish curry with papadum is something quite new to me but it somehow worked and gave the dish an added crunch.
Singapore Heritage Desserts ($13). The platter is made up of marie biscuit cake, coconut fruit & nut bar, kaya roll and rose bandung macaron. Unfortunately, the dessert platter is quite nondescript. The best on the platter is the kaya roll, which is soft, dense and not too cloying sweet while the rest were just normal. The rose bandung macaron also failed to impress with its too sticky shells.
If you want to have a go at creating these dishes at the comfort of your kitchen, which will definitely impress your family and guests, feel free to pick up a copy of Shermay’s Cookbook while you’re at Clifford Pier!
Expected damage: $35 – $50 per pax