On The Pass
A celebrated custodian of Peranakan fare, Candlenut’s Malcolm Lee says innovation is the key to ensuring its future
A lauded young custodian of Peranakan fare, Candlenut’s Malcolm Lee affirms why innovation remains key to ensuring its future
Though his restaurant Candlenut is often described as one that serves modern Peranakan food, chef Malcolm Lee is keen to point out that the definition isn’t quite accurate. “It’s not really modern,” he said. “It’s just Peranakan food brought into the now. It’s how we eat today.”
Modern though they may seem, the dishes are firmly rooted in their traditional essence; for example, ikan chuan chuan—a rustic dish of a whole fish, fried and served in a light ginger and tau cheo (fermented soybean paste) sauce. At Candlenut, Malcolm uses meaty fillets of threadfin, which he swathes in a smooth, rich sauce made with ginger paste and tau cheo. The resulting rendition is refined and elegant, yet unmistakably ikan chuan chuan.