Vijay Mudaliar, co-owner of Native in Singapore, shares his cocktail tribute to local Peranakan people. By Holly Graham.
Peranakan are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and southern Thailand between the 15th and 17th centuries. Consequently, their culture is a blend of many traditions that culminate to form something unique, and The Peranakan cocktail is inspired by this very diverse mix of people, flavours and cuisines. Being indigenous to this part of the world, we really wanted to showcase the particular ingredients that are very familiar to this culture, as it’s truly a special one.
The cuisine was in decline and it was only recently that young Peranakan chefs have picked it back up, with venues such as Candlenut – the first Michelin starred Peranakan restaurant – leading the revival. At Native, we felt that it was very important to represent a culture with such deep roots in our drinks and in turn, reflect that to our customers.
We infuse Indian rum with galangal, laksa leaves, tamarind, pandan, candlenut and gula Melaka, then add it into a really high quality, locally made goat’s milk. We then add jackfruit, and the enzymes cause the milk to split, creating a clarified liquid. We then use the remaining curds to create a jelly with coconut, pandan and blue pea flowers, so as not to waste the curds – we like to as keep our waste as minimal as possible at Native.
In another waste-saving technique, we poach the leftover jackfruit seeds in water and salt as they have a nutty aroma and flavour profile that can then be used in some of our other cocktails. It’s also a bit of a throwback to our childhood, as growing up many families would either poach, grill or make curries from jackfruit seeds.
Most of the ingredients are used in Peranakan cuisine. For example, blue pea flowers were traditionally used as a food and cloth dye, and laksa leaves give the cocktail a citronella kick and of course pays homage to Singapore’s much loved Peranakan dish laksa. Peranakan also use candlenuts in a lot of recipes for their nutty flavour profile, and also to thicken sauces, and traditional desserts such as chendol use gula melaka with pandan. After trailblazers like Candlenut, we hope we can keep the ball rolling on – albeit in cocktail format.
Recipe (Click to view)
The Peranakan by Vijay Mudaliar
Native 52A Amoy Street, Singapore 069878. +65 8869 6520, tribenative.com.