When one talks about festive feasts, the first images that come to mind tend to be of roast turkeys and carved hams. At Senang Supperclub, this notion is subverted. Created by John Lim of This Humid House, the one-of-a-kind culinary experience invites guest chefs to prepare innovative menus, weaving food with design and art in effortlessly chic fashion.
The first chef to take on the mantle is Bryan Koh, a Southeast Asian food researcher, author and co-owner of cake shop Chalk Farm. Having penned multiple titles that go in-depth into the cooking of various countries in the region, Koh brings to Senang Supperclub menus that inspire guests to rethink what they know of as Southeast Asian cuisine.
For a holiday shoot with Vogue Singapore, the duo conceptualise a festive menu that puts a unique regional spin on the traditional Western yuletide feast. Turkey is prepared in the style of Hainanese chicken and suspended atop a cake of fragrant rice, as local string beans—cooked whole and served with nanmi sauce—take the place of the typical green bean casserole. Instead of deviled eggs, Koh prepares a savoury and aromatic Burmese egg curry, and to close the meal, dessert takes the form of unday-unday, Filipino-style glutinous rice balls in coconut caramel.
For those looking to switch things up for their own holiday feasts at home, Koh shares two delectable recipes from the spread.
Bamar Egg Curry
The peanut oil required for this is not the flavourless or straw-coloured sort easily procured from supermarket aisles, but the rich, viscous and golden liquid readily stocked by Burmese grocers.
For the sauce:
– 125g red onions, peeled
– 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
– 75ml peanut oil
– ½ tsp ground turmeric
– 600g ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
– 1 tbsp chilli powder
– 1 tbsp Burmese fish sauce
– Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
– Pinch of sugar
– 150ml water or light chicken stock
– A small handful of coriander sprigs
For the eggs:
– 8 large eggs
– Ground turmeric
– Peanut oil, for deep-frying
Begin with the sauce. Crush the red onions and garlic into rough pastes separately with a pestle and mortar. Set these aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the ground turmeric, followed by the crushed onions. Stir for a minute, then lower the heat and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions are fragrant, translucent and soft.
Add the crushed garlic, fry for a minute, then sprinkle in the chilli powder and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 10 minutes, stirring, until they have broken down somewhat, yielding to form a thick sauce.
Add the Burmese fish sauce, salt, sugar and water or light chicken stock. Bring to a robust bubble, then half-cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. A thick, but pourable, red sauce should be obtained, its surface thinly veiled in red oil.
Meanwhile, fill a suitably sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Gently lower in the eggs and boil for just 8 minutes. This should produce a waxy, but not molten, yolk. Peel the boiled eggs carefully under running water and set aside.
Fill a wide frying pan with approximately 2cm peanut oil and place it over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in just enough ground turmeric to tint it a heady yellow, then carefully slip in the eggs. Fry the ovals, turning them over in the hot fat, until they form golden pelts. Drain on kitchen towel.
By this point, the sauce should be just about done. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, then slip in the fried eggs and simmer for a final minute.
Plate up and serve sprinkled with coriander.
For the glutinous rice pastry:
– 200g glutinous rice flour
– Approx. 175ml water
For the sauce:
– 125g coconut sugar, chopped
– 1⁄4 tsp salt
– 350ml water
– 175ml coconut cream
Place the glutinous rice flour in a bowl and add just enough of the 175ml water to make the flour clump. Work with your hands into a smooth dough. Add more water if need be. Pinch off 30g, press it into a patty and drop it into a small saucepan of boiling water. Once it floats, remove and return it to the rest of the dough. Cool for several seconds, then massage until this cooked pastry has been completely absorbed by the dough. The resultant dough should be smooth and pliable. If it seems too damp, add a little more glutinous rice flour. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes before using.
Shape the glutinous rice pastry into walnut-sized balls. You should get 21-24. Arrange them on a platter lined with kitchen towel.
Place the coconut sugar, salt and water in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Once a smooth, bubbling syrup is produced, stir in the coconut cream. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce slightly, then add the dumplings. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the dumplings are swollen, soft and thickly coated in the sweet sauce.
The December ‘Carouse’ issue of Vogue Singapore is available for sale online and in-store now.