Text and images by CK Lam @ Makansutra
The book with plenty of recipes and pictures of old Penang
Penang Heritage Food is a book with a collection of recipes for the classic and forgotten dishes of Penang. Written by Dr Ong Jin Teong, the book was launched recently at the al-fresco style Pavilion next to Tropical Spice Garden cooking school in Penang.
“Coming from a family with strong culinary tradition, Dr Ong Jin Teong was determined to preserve some of the long forgotten recipes of Penang’s rich cultural past. Learning from his mother Khoo Chiew Kin, who was well known among the Young Women’s Christian Association & Methodist Girls’ School Old Girls’ Association for her cooking demonstrations back in the 1950s, Dr Ong also picked up tips and techniques by closely observing the street hawkers.
Despite having no professional cooking background, the now retired engineer brings together his knowledge and personal accounts of food preparation and cooking the island’s favourite heritage dishes.”
The book also sheds light on the different cultural influences that has made Penang’s fusion cuisine a unique national heritage. The book not only offers a collection of recipes for the classic and forgotten dishes of Penang but also pictures of ‘old’ Penang.
At the launch of the book, we received a lesson in the art of making old school Hainanese chicken pie with a cooking demonstration by Mr Ong.
Ong starts with the cooking of the Hainanese pie filling
HAINANESE CHICKEN PIE (Recipe courtesy of Mr Ong)
Pie filling 600g chicken 1tsp salt 3tbsp light soya sauce 1/2 tsp ground pepper 30g flour 300g potatoes 150g onions 200g carrots 130g tinned or fresh button mushrooms 100g peas 2 eggs 500ml water 1 stick cinnamon, approx. 3 cm 6 cloves 2.5 tbsp oil Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate with salt, soya sauce and ground pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken pieces to and coat them uniformly.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3cm cubes. Peel and cut onions into four wedges, then cut cross-wise into eighths. Cut the carrots and mushrooms into pieces. If you are using frozen peas, thaw them by soaking them in water.
Put the eggs in a saucepan. Add water till cover the eggs and bring to a boil. Let the eggs boil for a minute, turn off the flame and leave them in hot water for another 5 minutes. Replace the hot water with cold water, and then shell the eggs.
Fry the carrots with 1 tablespoonful of oil until slightly browned. Set it aside and fry the potatoes with another spoonful of oil till slightly brown. Drain the oil and set the potatoes aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the chicken pieces. Allow the chicken to cook for 10 minutes until they are cooked before turning over. Set the fried chicken aside.
Fry the onions till transparent. Add in the chicken, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir the ingredients, add water and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Include the peas and the boiled eggs before turning off the fire.
1 packet puff pastry (375g) 1 egg Plain flour
Divide the pastry into two and roll out the pastry separately. The 375g of pastry is sufficient for two pie dishes with diameters of less than 20cm. Use a clean, smooth worktop and sprinkle flour uniformly over the surface. Apply pressure on the rolling pin evenly over the width of the pastry. The pastry will become thinner and wider. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the work surface and on the pastry.
Roll out the pastry into a rectangle. The longer side should be 12 cm longer than the diameter or length of pie dish. The width should be 12 cm longer than the diameter or the width of the pie dish.
Use the pie dish or its cover as a template and cut the pastry allowing 2cm round the perimeter. Cut out 3cm strips around the edge and keep them aside. Transfer the large sheets of pastry on to the cover of the pie dishes. Leave the pastry to “relax” for about 10 minutes.
Beat up the egg. Slather a layer of beaten egg on the pastry, but leave out the edge as this would seal it and prevent the pastry from puffing up when baked. Place the 3cm strips of pastry cut from the template along the edge of the pastry and brush over with beaten egg.
Roll out the remaining pastry and make shapes to decorate the top of the pies. Brush the pastry, including the decorations with beaten egg.
Preheat oven to 240 degree C. Bake the pie crusts for about 15 minutes until golden brown. The oven temperature can be reduced once the pastry has puffed up. Transfer the baked pastries onto the pie dishes containing the hot filling. Alternatively, bake the crusts of the pies with the filling.