New edition of book on nonya food cooked by former Singapore president Wee Kim Wee’s wife rolled out
Craving for Peranakan cuisine like ondeh ondeh and pong tauhu but unable to find suitable ingredients?
Alternative ingredients are suggested in a book where readers can try their hand at making nonya fare served to late Singapore president Wee Kim Wee following the official launch of Cooking for the President: Reflections & Recipes of Mrs Wee Kim Wee, a memoir-cum-cookbook by the couple’s daughter Wee Eng Hwa on Monday.
Said Ms Wee, 80, who paid for the printing: “This is a compilation of the accumulated culinary experience of four generations of great nonya cuisine, which my family are delighted to share as a legacy for Singaporeans.
“Beyond the well-loved recipes, it is also a tribute to my parents, two extraordinary people who are worthy of great honour.”
The book, which is in its third edition after it was first printed by Ms Wee in 2010, has a new chapter on alternative ingredients for readers who are unable to source for the original ones of recipes in the book.
It features 227 recipes and their variations, the Singapore Management University (SMU) said on Monday.
Most of the recipes and their variations are the late Mrs Wee Kim Wee’s spin of Peranakan dishes prepared for Dr Wee who died in 2005. They were married for 69 years.
During Dr Wee’s time as Singapore’s President from 1985 to 1993, he was known to often invite Singaporeans to the Istana to tuck into the former First Lady’s famed Peranakan dishes.
This drew praises from guests including late Dr S. R. Nathan - Singapore’s President from 1999 to 2011 - who described the complex flavours and colours of her dishes as “more than inviting”, according to SMU.
Mrs Wee, who picked up culinary skills from her grandmother at 10, would also personally prepare food for dinner parties and receptions hosted by Dr Wee during his diplomatic career.
Included in the book are recipes for desserts such as ang ku kueh as well as savoury dishes such as sambal timun, or spicy pork cucumber salad, and her grandmother’s luak chai, or pickled Chinese mustard leaves.
Accompanied by photographs, the book offers insights into the personal life journeys of Dr and Mrs Wee Kim Wee, who married after a year of meeting each other.
Following his death, Mrs Wee – who died in 2018 at 102 –had kept busy cooking and her recipes were compiled by her daughter in the book, which has sold 8,000 copies across two editions.
This third edition has 3,000 copies and can be purchased from The SMU Shop for $118.
Proceeds from the sale will go to the Wee Kim Wee Heritage Fund, which will be used for SMU scholarships for needy students, and programmes for the Wee Kim Wee Centre, which seeks to promote a deeper understanding of the impact of cultural diversity on the business environment.
The proceeds will also be used for upkeep of the Wee Kim Wee Room featuring his personal artefacts, which will be open to the public from 2023. The room is housed at the SMU Administration Building in Bras Basah.
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