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Recipes From Our Mums: Chef-restaurant owner Malcolm Lee and mum Julie Koh

Published on May 7, 2013 8:10 PM
Chef Malcolm Lee and his mother, Madam Julie Koh. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Mee siam is the signature dish of chef Malcolm Lee’s mother Julie Koh.

“Anybody who comes over will ask for her mee siam,” said the chef-owner of Candlenut Kitchen.

“It is also easier to cook mee siam compared to other Peranakan dishes such as ayam buah keluak.”

Madam Koh, 59, a personal chef, fondly recalled how Malcolm had been interested in cooking since he was in Secondary 2.

“He would watch me cook and help out in the kitchen. I remember the first dish he cooked in school was spaghetti and he brought it home for me to try.”

Both Madam Koh and Mr Lee, 28, who is the eldest of three siblings, are the two main cooks in the family.

Chef Lee, who opened Peranakan restaurant Candlenut Kitchen in Neil Road in 2010, will reopen the restaurant in June at the Dorsett Hotel in New Bridge Road.

He is keeping his Mother’s Day plans under wraps.

“It will definitely revolve around food. It just depends on what form dinner is served.”


Spice paste
75g shallots, peeled
15g dried red chilli
8g preserved shrimp paste
2 Tbs oil
42.5g ground dried shrimps
100g rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for five minutes, then rinsed in cold water and drained
150g bean sprouts

38g fermented soy bean paste
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
2 Tbs sugar
50g tamarind paste (mixed with 125ml water and strained)
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
80g coconut cream
500ml water or prawn stock
Salt to taste

6 medium-sized prawns, boiled and shelled
3 pieces of tau kwa, deep-fried and sliced
2 hard-boiled egg, halved
Chinese chives, cut into 1cm lengths
3 limes, halved

1. Make the rempah: Pound the shallots, red chilli, and preserved shrimp paste with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, you can blend the ingredients in a blender. Add small amounts of water until a fine and smooth paste is achieved.
2. Heat oil in a wok and fry the paste for a few minutes until fragrant. The oil should separate from the paste and form a layer on top.
3. Add the ground dried shrimp and fry for another minute. Set half of the rempah aside for the gravy.
4. On high heat, stir-fry the bean sprouts for one minute in the other half of the rempah.
5. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice vermicelli. Mix well for a few minutes, ensuring the rice vermicelli is well-coated with the rempah. Remove from fire and set aside.
6. For the gravy, put the reserved rempah from step 3 and all the ingredients to simmer with the water or prawn stock for 20 minutes. Season to taste.
7. To serve, place the rice vermicelli in a bowl. Garnish with the prawns, tau kwa, hard-boiled egg, chives and lime. Pour the gravy over and serve hot.

Serves 3