Aunt Ooi is Doing Nyonya Style Chicken Curry Right!
Last time we checked in with Aunt Ooi’s Kitchen, she was doing Malaysia proud by serving the Malaysian national dish, Nasi Lemak, to only the bravest and most adventurous Midtown Lunch’ers willing to experience the “exchange.” You may need to refer to that post if you missed out on how the exchange works…
Since then, Aunt Ooi has offered another addition to the Friday lunch special for the solo luncher willing to try something new: Nyonya Style Curry Chicken!
Nyonya Cuisine, also known as Peranakan Cuisine, is a combination of both Chinese and Malay cuisines as a result of Chinese migrants intermarrying with local Malays, dating back to the Ming Dynasty (15th/16th Century). The blogs, I-Destination and Nyonya Food do a really good job of explaining the history further, and by reading both of them, I’ve learned that as a result of the amount of time and patience that goes into preparing this style of food (everything is done from scratch, including the pounding of the spices), it has become somewhat of a dying art. There have been large initiatives, like Malaysia Kitchen for the World in NYC, to preserve the traditional style of cooking and promote the cuisine, but this also means that us Midtown folk are really lucky to have Aunt Ooi, our very own “nyonya,” to wake up early in the morning and make these special dishes for us!
The serving size offered by Aunt Ooi is pretty big, with a hefty amount of curry chicken on one side, two large potato chunks, and three slices of cucumber together over jasmine rice. The chicken and potato are smothered in the same curry sauce, which is seasoned with number of different spices. The easiest to detect off the bat are lemongrass and chilies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more spices, such as galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and belacan (shrimp paste) were used too, as they often are in this dish. The curry sauce itself is thick and creamy, and slightly coconutty, and the chicken is incredibly tender – it comes off the bone so easily. The whole dish packs some heat, but luckily there are some cucumbers to help neutralize it all.
Additionally, when we first started ordering from Aunt Ooi’s, she was serving food out of white clamshell containers. She’s now switched to microwaveable plastic containers, which are more airtight and better for transport from her Flushing kitchen.
The Friday special so far has been alternating between Nasi Lemak and Nyonya Style Curry Chicken since I started ordering from her over the past month or so, so I’ll be curious to see what’s next!
Aunt Ooi’s Kitchen, Pick-Up on 57th Street and 7th Avenue, (718) 808-3087