Nyonya Chap Chye – Whip It UP!

BRAISED with pork and prawns, Chef Malcolm Lee’s take on the traditional Nyonya Chap Chye or vegetable stew brims with buckets of flavour! This classic dish often served during Chinese New Year in Peranakan households is also enjoyed in restaurants and by other ethnic communities.

Total Time: 1½ hours
Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: S$8.00
Serves: 4 persons

A: For Soaking

25g black mushrooms, sliced after soaking
15g wood ear fungus
10g dried lily buds, knotted
1 bundle glass noodles, soaked in cold water
1 strip dried yellow bean curd skin, cut into pieces

B: For Deep-Frying

1 piece sweet bean curd sheet, cut into strips

C: To Blanch Pork

200ml water
90g pork belly, sliced

100g prawns, shelled and deveined

D: Vegetables

100g cabbage leaves, cut into squares
1 medium carrot, sliced, optional
50g gingko nuts, shelled, optional

E: Seasoning

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus oil for deep-frying
15g garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon light soy sauce, optional
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fermented soy bean paste
A pinch of sugar


1. Soak A ingredients in individual bowls of hot water. When softened, drain water.

2. Discard mushroom stems. Squeeze excess water from mushrooms, then slice into strips.

3. Snip away hard portion on underside of fungus. If using larger fungus, cut into smaller pieces.

4. Snip away hard end of lily buds before knotting.

5. Fill wok with oil. When hot, deep-fry B ingredient until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

6. Bring water in small pot to a rolling boil. Put in pork belly; blanch for 5 mins. Let it cool, then slice. Set aside.

7. Reserve prawn shells. Pan fry in a frying pan without oil until fragrant. Pour in water and simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Strain and set prawn stock aside. Discard shell.

8. Heat up a large pot over medium heat. Add oil and stir-fry garlic until fragrant. Add mushrooms and pork belly. Fry another minute.

9. Add in salted soy beans and fry another minute. Pour in prawn stock. Add remaining ingredients, except for carrot and cabbage. Simmer 20 minutes.

10. Next, add in cabbage and carrot.

Simmer a further 10 minutes. Toss in prawns to cook for 2 minutes. Add soy sauces and sugar to taste. NOTE: For a less salty version, omit light soy sauce and reduce the dark soy sauce.

11. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve with steamed rice.

TIP: Knotting lily buds before soaking prevents them from fraying during cooking. Both  ingredients (below) are made from beancurd but they differ in form, texture and taste. Yellow beancurd skin (left) is usually soaked in water while the dark brown beancurd sheet is often deep-fried before stewing.

TECHNIQUE: Blanching pork in hot water strips away excess fat. It also firms up the meat texture and hold up well during stewing.

Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee

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