Grandmothers’ Recipes: Peranakan
At another semi-detached house, Aunty Rosaline – as Rosaline Soon (above) is known – puts on her apron. Together with four others, I gather around a long worktop in her large, air-conditioned kitchen. Warm and friendly, Aunty Rosaline specialises in Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cooking and today, we are making pineapple tarts – a popular treat during Chinese New Year. We will learn how to make golf-ball-size ones, which are enclosed in pastry, and the more common open-faced version (below).
Classes held by Grandmothers’ Recipes are part demonstration, part hands-on cooking. Aunty Rosaline begins by showing us how to grate and drain the pineapples; we drink the refreshing juice. She says the jam takes “at least four hours” to cook – in a saucepan over low heat, with consistent stirring – before it is ready.
Our lesson is only three hours, so Aunty Rosaline takes out some jam and a batch of dough she has prepared in advance. Then, she sets the group to work shaping and glazing the delicacies. We bake about four dozen tarts in total. Whatever isn’t eaten as it comes out of the oven is packed into flowery little bags for us to take home. Aunty Rosaline also signs her book sets, which are available for purchase and contain family recipes for sweet and savoury Peranakan and Chinese dishes.