I have Peranakan roots somewhere in my long, lost lineage of ancestors and descendants who had so bravely left their country of birth and survived the perilous journeys of the times, to the shores of Indonesia, Sumatra and Malaya to carve out better lives and futures for their families. Could this be why I have such an intrinsic, instinctive affinity for Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cuisine? Who knows?
But as it turns out, I truly do love Peranakan cuisine. From a very young age, I was already happily ingesting heaps of chillies, spices and sambals. In fact, so much of it, that my friends thought I had a tongue made of leather, as to be seemingly incapable of feeling the intense sting or heat of these tongue-burning meals. I’ve grown up on a lot of classic Peranakan food, thanks to my parents’ home cooked meals throughout the years, but I’d have to say that curries are my absolute favourite!
These days, when I want curry in a hurry, a Peranakan dish of assam pork curry usually comes to mind. It’s meaty, saucy, spicy, tangy, fragrant, and creamily delicious! This curry dish doesn’t need major cooking experience, which is great for newbie cooks looking to make an easy, simple and tasty curry.
I’m a huge fan of curries – I’ve probably said so a zillion times, I know! – so this and other curries are regular meals I cook up at home (check out this nonya chicken curry and easy, delicious beef rendang). This assam pork curry scores a lot of points with me for a couple of reasons. For starters, I don’t need to spend a lot of time peeling, cutting, chopping, pounding or even blending different spices and ingredients together.
See? Nothing to chop really …. okay, maybe just one, but that’s absolutely it.
Another huge plus for me is that it doesn’t require ready-made or commercially packaged curry pastes which come loaded with flavourings and preservatives. The closest thing to a commercial paste used here is chilli paste, which can even be substituted with home-made chilli paste if you’re trying to go really healthy with your food choices. Me, I don’t really mind relying on a little convenience food every now and then! I just can’t see myself squeezing freshly grated coconut for coconut milk, know what I mean?
Assam pork curry is delicious even right after it’s cooked. Enjoy this, spooned generously with curry gravy over steamed jasmine rice, and with a side dish of achar.