About

42 comments

(Click here to read all about Nyonya Food and its introduction, origin, and history).

Nyonya Food is a new website authored by Bee Yinn Low of the hugely successful Rasa Malaysia. With collaboration of my family members—aunt, sister, and sister-in-law—Nyonya food is a website dedicated to Nyonya cuisine, culture, and traditions. It’s also a place my family and I document all precious Nyonya recipes passed down from our late grandmother—recipes and foods that grace many family celebrations, festivities, occasions that so often conjure sweet and nostalgic memories. Nyonya food is a native cuisine of mine; it is the food of my childhood.

Growing up with my late grandmother—a fantastic Nyonya cook and famed kuih maker of her time—I savored many delicious Nyonya dishes and learned the ropes of making Nyonya food by spending a lot of times in my grandmother’s kitchen. I was introduced to traditional Nyonya kitchen utensils and tools such as batu giling (the stone slab used for grinding spices or “rempah“), wooden coconut grater, various Nyonya kuih molds, pots and pans. Nyonya recipes are also passed down to the women in my family as the cooking process is an intimate family affair where everyone contributes to the kitchen chores of prepping and cooking. Cooking Nyonya food is always a fun-filled and satisfying experience.

I wish to keep Nyonya culture, cuisine, heritage, and tradition alive with this site. Most importantly, I wanted the world to learn more about the beautiful Nyonya food or Straits Chinese cuisine through my family’s Nyonya recipes. Recipes will be contributed by my family—mostly my sister-in-law—and yours truly. As I reside in the United States, a lot of Nyonya ingredients are not available so the best and most authentic recipes will come from my family’s kitchen in Penang, Malaysia. Also, the recipes will be written in metric units and measurement for general references. If you are in the United States, kindly use the “Converter” tool on the right navigation bar.

This website is dedicated to my late grandmother and my late parents whom we love and miss dearly. It’s also a tribute to my aunt, a fantastic Nyonya food and kuih master whose cooking skills only improves with time.

If you are of a Peranakan or Baba-Nyonya descent, I would like to hear from you: where you are, your favorite dishes and recipes, or any tales and anecdotes that you wish to share. I would also like to learn more about Nyonya food in Melaka and Singapore and to appreciate and understand the differences.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of Nyonya food and can’t even begin to pronounce or remember the word, just think of it as N-Y-O N-Y-A Food.

N-Y-O N-Y-A, pronounced as non-ya.

Thank you for visiting Nyonya Food and we look forward to hearing from you!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle July 31, 2009 at 11:08 am

Hi, I’m a Singaporean living in the Bay Area and can identify with your desire to keep the Nonya tradition going :) My grandmother was from Malacca and I grew up with sambal udang, buah keluak, etc. Have yet to attempt any ‘traditional’ nonya dishes on my own, but they’re definitely on the cards! Looking forward to your posts.

Danielle

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Nyonya Food August 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

Danielle – you have an interesting background. Malacca Nyonya food is different compared to Penang Nyonya food, I hope to learn more.

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kcrv July 31, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Love your work on Rasa Malaysia.
I became aware of Nonya cuisine when my son worked at a Nonya/Peranakan restaurant on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Though I had long enjoyed going to Malaysia and Singapore for the beautiful food.

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Nyonya Food July 31, 2009 at 9:55 pm

KCRV – yes, I think Nyonya food and Malaysian food are quite accessible in Australia because of the many Malaysian immigrants there. You are so lucky! :)

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Iced March 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

What I would not give for a decent Nyonya on the Gold Coast. I was devastated when Cynthia closed Peranakan House at Robina. Oh how I miss the chicken curries and Mee Siam was to die for ……..

If anyone knows a good Nyonya on the Gold Coast PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE POST HERE or email me here “i c e d v o l v o (at)hotmail.com (you will need to remove the spaces on the front before emailing)

Iced

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Cynthia August 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Bee, I think you already know what a fan I am of your food and work. It is such a pleasure to have you welcome us into your inner circle by sharing the food and culture that you hold near and dear. I look forward to learning and to one day, perhaps, feast at your table in person :)

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Nyonya Food August 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Cynthia – thanks for your support. Yes, come to Orange County and I will cook for you.

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Alex February 14, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Hi Bee
I just came across your website and its so nice to find a fellow Penang Nyonya who is so passionate about our culture and cuisine, no less one in southern CA too. I’m also in Lake Elsinore and would love to hook up with another Nyonya!
I always cook up a storm for my Chinese New Year party every year. This year is no different. In fact I’m prepping ingredients to make Jiu Hu Char today (taking a break to check for other recipes online).
Do you know where I can get fresh pandan leaves here in the States? All I can find is frozen ones and they don’t work!
Thanks
Another Penang Nyonya in SoCal

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Syrie August 2, 2009 at 2:15 am

Hi Bee, congratulations on the new site. I’m really looking forward to learning more about this delicious traditional food. Keep up the amazing work!

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Nyonya Food August 2, 2009 at 10:54 am

Thanks Syrie! :)

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gc August 2, 2009 at 3:14 am

Hello Bee,

I’m a Penangite and staying in Berlin now. Really enjoyed your blog at RasaMalaysia and now NyonyaFood. I do practise some simple nyonya cooking in my little kitchen. Do you know anyone who teaches Nyonya cooking in Penang? Thanks, gc

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Nyonya Food August 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

GC – nice to meet you online. Well, there is no real Nyonya cooking class in Penang, but my family is hoping to launch the service soon, including small and private Nyonya cooking class + private dining of home-cooked Nyonya food. I think it will be awesome! I will announce it when we have the service.

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Su Ling August 3, 2009 at 3:59 am

Oh this site is wonderful!!!!

I too was raised by my Nyonya mother from Malacca so I live on very typical Malacca Nyonya food such as Pongteh, Buah Keluak, Itik Siuh. There’s definitely a noticeable difference between Penang + Malacca nyonya cooking so am hoping to learn more Penang recipes! We have an appreciation for Pie Tee in my family ;)

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ck lam August 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Great website Bee…indeed a good idea sharing with all of us the history and everything Nyonya in this blog. Congrates to a job well done, from a Penangite myself.

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noobcook August 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Finally I can post a comment! Congrats on your new site! The site logo is beautiful, as are the authentic Nyonya dishes. Love the concept behind the site as well. Keep up the good work! =)

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Joyce August 12, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I love to visit your site. Nyonya food is my favourite and I hope to learn more from you and to cook for my family. I love to see your food photograph, it is so beautiful and it make me wanted to cook and eat the dish immediately.

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Anna August 16, 2009 at 1:07 am

Love this site. Make me hungry. Photos are beautiful.

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Nyonya Food August 16, 2009 at 10:10 am

Thanks Anna.

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LM October 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Hi, I love the Kuih Pie Tee/Top Hat appetizer. Would you email me information on where I can buy the Kuih Pie Tee Mould/Mold in Malaysia and USA? Thank you so much.

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Nyonya Food October 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

I no longer sell it anymore. Sorry.

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Natalie October 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm

May I ask where in the States are you?

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Nyonya Food October 7, 2009 at 10:27 am

Southern CA. :)

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Popsicles November 29, 2009 at 5:13 am

Hi there,
Love this site ! Great work !

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Nyonya Food November 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

Thank you.

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Ken Jersey Caterer December 2, 2009 at 10:38 am

Hi Bee
I love your website and your dedication in keeping a family tradition. I am a chef from the UK and I have tried a few of your recipes and they are very good. (WELL DONE) My wife and I am visiting Mallacca in early February 2010 and was wondering if you could recommend the best Nyonya restaurant in Mallacca, I know Rick Stein visited a Nyonya restaurant which looked really good on television, do you know which one it was? if you want to join us for dinner it would be great to discuss our food passion. Thanks Ken

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Nyonya Food December 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Hi Ken,

I am not familiar with Melaka unfortunately and don’t know the best Nyonya restaurant there. Any chance you will be going to Penang?

Thanks for your sweet comment. :)

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Ken Jersey Caterer December 3, 2009 at 1:07 am

Hi, Yes I am staying at the Shangri La Rasa Sayang, we arrive on the 9th Feb and leave on the 23rd Feb.
Ken

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Nyonya Food December 4, 2009 at 9:40 pm

That’s great. Hope you will join our tour.

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Nyonya Adeline Loh January 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Hi Ken and Bee,

I was in Melaka end of last year. There is a place call Nancy’s Kitchen at Jonker Street.
Try this google map : http://maps.google.com.my/maps/place?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=nancy%27s+kitchen+malacca&fb=1&gl=my&hq=nancy%27s+kitchen&hnear=malacca&cid=15083504182873605402

As for myself I have inherited a blood line from both Malacca and Penang Peranakan but unfortunately only found out recently. However I believe it is never too late to know our heritage and culture. Presently I have just joined the association of Peranakans Baba Nyonya Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. It was only inaugurated last year as an official association and recognised by the Tourism Govt of Malaysia.

If those who knows the history, Kuala Lumpur as the capital city of Malaysia does not have original Peranakan but due to the growth in economy in the early days, many have left from Penang and Malacca to work in the capital. The association is at presently setting up a website to actually link Penang… Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Peranakan togather. Due to the growing interest we that is the central want to be that link.

If Bee or anyone you know have an interest in Peranakan would like to link up, do email me at adelym2000@gmail.com.

P/s: Bee, can you give me more details of your tour. We are also helping Peranakan to promote any website or items of interest.

Hope to hear from all of you and especially yourself Bee. Thanks.

Nyonya Adeline

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Nyonya Food January 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Nyonya Adeline – thanks for your comment, I am sending you an email.

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Ken Jersey Caterer December 6, 2009 at 3:43 am

Hi Send me details and contact number for the tour, would love to attend.

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cyenz January 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I was wondering if you have heard of a dessert called “xia liu” or “sia liu”?

It is a very rare Nyonya dessert, as I had it only once in my life and my mom had it maybe 5 times in her life. Even though my maternal grandma was a Nyonya and a great cook, she had never made this (as far as I know).

It is a dessert of clear, sweet soup (probably made by boiling with pandan leafs and sugar) and small, colorful beads with white, crunchy centers. The beads are dyed light yellow, light pink and light green. According to mom, this is a labor intensive dessert. My mom also thinks that the beads were made with dried pomegranate seeds.

I’ve tried looking for it online, no luck so far. Hopefully, someone here has heard of it. I’m afraid it’ll be lost forever….

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Nyonya Food January 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

I am sorry but no, it doesn’t ring any bell. :(

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Jason Ko January 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Sorry for the stupid question, but I came to this page trying to find out what “nyonya food” is, or means. I can’t figure it out. Google doesn’t help either. What is it? Is nyonya an ethnicity? A region? Something else?

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Nyonya Food January 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm
ayda haini January 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

i’ve read ur blog on nyonya recipes & i found its interesting..actually im a student taking Food Science & Nutrition course n looking for more information on “Usually Eaten Food by Baba Nyonya Peranakan” for my assignment..it focus on traditional & modern food of baba nyonya..i hope u can give a little help for dat case..thx (^_^)

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Nyonya Food January 17, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Andy – let me know what I can help.

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Roxanne Ong January 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Hi there – you are amazing, your efforts are amazing. I am part Nyonya and enjoy every bit of Peranakan food over anything else. Unfortunately, growing up 80s in Singapore, much has diluted and sadly, it is when I step into the Singapore heritage museums that I realize how much i grew up Peranakan! Can you do us a favor and do a story on basic Nyonya cookware/bakeware that we need to have to get equipped? i.e. how to make a 101 Nyonya kitchen…

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Nyonya Food January 27, 2010 at 9:39 am

Thank you. It’s very hard to do such as post because I don’t have the Nyonya cookware/bakeware samples here in the US, but thanks for your suggestions.

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Teong February 23, 2010 at 8:55 am

I am doing some research on appliances and utensils used for Nyonya food. I found several old flour bags (meehoon thay) in my mother’s kitchen in Penang. I wonder whether you or your relative can remember what it was used for. I think the cloth was used for squeezing grated coconut for santan and also for draining water from the wet ground rice. Any memories?

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Kim E. Yeo February 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Hi,
My daughter just showed me your website after she had forgotten my recipe for pineapple tarts and used yours instead!
My husband (who worked at the United Nations)and I are 5th generation Singapore Straits-Born, living in NYC for the past 30 yrs. We’ve seen the influx of Malaysian restaurants with Nonya dishes becoming popular here. Both my daughters grew up with my cooking and are good cooks themselves.
Bravo for having a successful website that will keep the taste alive…
Keep it up.
:-) Kim

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Jimmy Bong February 25, 2010 at 2:25 am

Hi there,
I’m a Baba from Malacca. I found your website by chance while searching for molding machine to mass-produce kueh pie-tee cups. I appreciate you sharing the recipes to all. Nyonya food is definitely unique and delicious and I will always love them. From the spicy sambal belacan to the sumptuous pong teh, to the exquisite buah keluak and to the delectable itik tim, it’s hard not to miss them. But sadly, the new generation of Babas and Nyonyas can hardly speak the language, what-more cook these authentic dishes.
Thus, websites like this is definitely a welcome sight! Thank you!
Jimmy B.

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