Sunday, 1 April 2012

Singapore Nyonya Cuisine - Babi Assam (Braised Pork Cheeks in a Tangy Tamarind Sauce)

After a series of restaurant reviews that I've posted lately, I thought it's about time I write about a dish that I've cooked recently. One of my fellow blogger whom I have been following have recently travelled to my hometown, Singapore. And thanks to the wonder of twitter, along with a few fellow Singaporean, we tweeted advice on places to go for authentic Singaporean hawker food, as you do. I did mentioned in my personal profile that we, as a nation, love to talk about food. This is part of our culture and I am glad to see that being in a foreign land didn't changed us a bit.

All these just reminded me of how much I missed the food of Singapore. This is a fantastic example of good humble home style food that I loved. Like beef rendang, this just gets better with time so it can definitely be made the day before and re-heat when you want to eat it. My nan used to cook this and she would used pork belly which has the most amazing flavours. However, I have used pork cheeks instead which is just as tasty. For this dish to be at it's best, you need to use meat that contain a good amount of fat so refrain from substituting this with a leaner cut.

Along with this, I have also made a Nyonya nasi kunyit which is just perfect to go with this dish, of course a simple bowl of steam rice is just as good.

 (Serves 4)

10-12 pork cheeks (500g in total), cut into large cubes
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 tbsp tau cheo (yellow bean pasted)
2 tbsp tamarind paste
450ml water
3 tbsp palm sugar, substitute with 2 tbsp dark brown sugar if not available
Sea salt, to taste

For the rempah/spice paste:
2 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2cm length
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
6 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
3cm piece of fresh galangal
2cm piece of fresh ginger
3 clove garlic
4 dried red chillies, reconstituted in warm water
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded
1 tbsp belachan/blachan (Shrimp Paste), toasted in a dry pan or in the oven


Prepare the rempah/spice paste. Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor to a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat until it smokes. Add the spice paste and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant.
 Add the yellow bean paste and cook for another minute before adding the pork cheeks. 
 Stir to coat the pork with the spices. Add the tamarind paste and water and bring to the boil. Cover partially with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour, until the pork is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Add the palm sugar and season with salt to taste. Serve immediately with some steamed rice or nasi kunyit.
Babi Assam (Braised Pork Cheeks in a Tangy Tamarind Sauce) 
with Nasi Kunyit


  1. SALIVATING. you definitely went all the way with this, lhe nasi kunyit, and the banana leaf placemat included! 
    haha definitely agree that we as a nation love to talk about food. I mean, what else is there to talk about??

  2. Thanks shuhan, bought a big packet of the banana leaves recently for another dish so I thought might as well use it as much as I can :)
    Glad to see that I'm not the only one who live and breathe food...haha!

  3. Wow!  That looks delicious. 



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