My Destination Singapore Kitchen- A Peranakan Dish

Food & Drink

A delicious coconut and vegetable stew

Myriam Ohlig for My Guide Singapore

When the Vagabrothers came to Singapore a few months ago, they were impressed by the many facets of the Singaporean cuisine and wanted to taste them all. The last decade has seen a revival of interest in the Peranakan culture in Singapore, especially in the Peranakan cuisine also known as Nonya cuisine. Alex and Marko had the opportunity to take their food obsession to the next level with a Nonya connoisseur, Singapore's food Ambassadeur and local celebrity chef Violet Oon. Often referred as the Julia Child of Singapore, Violet invited them to her restaurant Violet Oon's Kitchen on Bukit Timah Road, to cook with her a delicious and easy Peranakan recipe that she learned from her aunties-  Kobis Kledek Masak Lemak. Kobis is for cabbage, Kledek is for sweet potato and sweet potato leaves, Masak means "to cook" and Lemak means "in a spicy creamy sauce". Here's the full recipe of this delicious coconut and vegetable stew.

Violet Oon and the Vagabrothers
Serves 4
Preparation Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
If you live in Asia, you'll easily find all the ingredients at your local market or grocery store. Otherwise, they are generally available at any Asian grocers. As a rule of thumb with any Asian recipe, do have all your ingredients prepared beforehand.


For the Rempah Titek (Spice mix)
5 candlenuts, washed and drained
5 dried chillies, soaked in hot water till softened (about 2 hours)
2 to 4 large red chillies, stalk removed, sliced into ½ cm slices
150g shallots, peeled and sliced roughly
1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste)
For the Kobis Kledek Masak Lemak
4 tbsp vegetable oil (except olive oil)
20 prawns or shrimps, peeled
1 ½  cups coconut cream or milk (from a can or carton)
2 cups water
500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
150g sweet potato leaves, washed and stem peeled off and cut*
500g cabbage, cut into 3 to 4 cm squares
5 leaves laksa leaves (called Daun Kesom in Malay, Botanical name: Polygonum odoratum)
Salt to taste

*To clean the sweet potato leaves, use the tips and young leaves, as for the stems, peel off the skin by breaking the tip, and pull the skin along stem, the rough skin part should come off easily. Then break the stem into 2 inches long after the skin removed.

Ingredients for the Kobis Kledek Masak Lemak


For the Rempah Titek
In a pestle and mortar pound all the above ingredients till very fine. Alternatively you can put it all in a food processor and grind till very fine. Add a little water if needed to help in the processing.
Keep aside.
Kobis Klekek Masak Lemak
1. Heat the oil in a wok, add the the Rempah Titek previously prepared and stir fry (sauté) over high heat till fragrant and the oil exudes.
2. Add the prawns and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add the water and half a cup of coconut milk. 
3. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer on medium heat till nearly cooked.
4. Add the cabbage and simmer till wilted before adding the remaining coconut cream/milk and the laksa and sweet potato leaves. Bring to the boil, turn off heat and serve with steamed rice and additional dishes for a complete family meal.
5.  to this delicious spiced coconut and vegetable stew.


Violet Oon showing Alex how to clean sweet potato leaves

Watch the video of this palatable Peranakan recipe, whose smell and taste is sure to ravish your taste buds and will certainly trigger children memories to many Nonyas of the world.

Learn more about the Peranakan culture in Singapore in our dedicated article Tales of a Mystifying Culture and have a Peranakan meal in our selection of Peranakan restaurants.

This video was filmed by the Vagabrothers
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