Penang Heritage Food Book Launch

BY C K Lam

Tropical Spice Garden recently sees the book launching and cooking demo by Dr Ong Jin Teong at the al-fresco style Pavilion next to the cooking school. The event highlighted Dr Ong’s culinary biography Penang Heritage Food, a collection of recipes for the classic and forgotten dishes of Penang.

Penang Heritage Food also sheds light on the different cultural influences that has made Penang’s fusion cuisine a unique national heritage. Dishes with Malay, Hokkien, Indian, Thai and Hainanese influences are included.

Penang Heritage Food Book Launch by

Coming from a family with strong culinary tradition, Dr Ong Jin Teong was determined to preserve some of the long forgotten recipes of Penang’s rich cultural past. Learning from his mother Khoo Chiew Kin, who was well known among the YWCA & MGS Old Girls’ Association for her cooking demonstrations back in the 1950s, Dr Ong also picked up tips and techniques by closely observing the street hawkers.

Despite having no professional cooking background, the now retired engineer brings together his knowledge and personal accounts of food preparation and cooking the island’s favourite heritage dishes. He performed a cooking demonstration, touching on the Hainanese chicken pie which has an obvious British origin.

 Penang Heritage Food Book Launch by what2seeonline.comPenang Heritage Food Book Launch by

 Penang Heritage Food Book Launch by what2seeonline.comPenang Heritage Food Book Launch by

Dr Ong bringing the Hainanese chicken pie to life


The book not only offers a collection of recipes for the classic and forgotten dishes of Penang but also pictures of ‘old’ Penang. Priced at RM39.90, the book is available at MPH bookstores.

Penang Heritage Food Book Launch by

Author and myself



Pie filling

600g chicken
1tsp salt
3tbsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
30g flour
300g potatoes
150g onions
200g carrots
130g tinned or fresh button mushrooms
100g peas
2 small eggs
500ml water
1 stick cinnamon, approx . 3 cm
6 cloves
2 1/2 tbsp oil

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate with salt, soya sauce and ground pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken pieces to and coat them uniformly.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3cm cubes. Peel and cut onions into four wedges, then cross-wise into eighths. Cut the carrots and mushrooms into pieces. If you are using frozen peas, thaw them by soaking them in water.

Put the eggs in a saucepan. Add water to cover the eggs and bring to a boil. Let the eggs boil for a minute, turn off the flame and leave them in hot water for another 5 minutes. Replace the hot water with cold water, and then shell the eggs.

Fry the carrots with 1 tablespoonful of oil until slightly brown. Set it aside and fry the potatoes with another spoonful of oil till slightly brown. Drain the oil and set the potatoes aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the chicken pieces. Allow the  chicken to cook for 10 minutes until they are brown before turning over. Set the fried chicken aside.

Fry the onions till transparent. Include the chicken, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir-fry them, add water and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Include the peas and the boiled eggs towards the end of cooking time.

Puff pastry

1 packet puff pastry (375g)
1 egg
Plain flour

Divide the pastry into two and roll out the pastry separately. The 375g of pastry is sufficient for two pie dishes with diameters or sides less than 20cm. Use a clean, smooth worktop and spread flour uniformly over the surface. Apply pressure on the rolling pin evenly over the width of the pastry. The pastry will become thinner and wider. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the work surface and on the pastry.

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle. The longer side should be at least the diameter or length of pie dish plus 12cm. The width should be at least the diameter or the width of the pie dish plus 12cm.

Use the pie dish or its cover as a template and cut the pastry allowing 2cm round the perimeter. Cut out 3cm strips around the edge and keep them aside. transfer the large sheets of pastry on to the cover of the pie dishes. Leave the pastry to relax for about 10 minutes.

Beat up the egg. Coat a layer of beaten egg on the pastry, taking care not to coat the edge as this would seal it and prevent the pastry from puffing up at the edge when baked. Place the 3cm strips of pastry cut from the template along the edge of the pastry and brush over with beaten egg.

Roll out the remaining pastry and make shapes to decorate the top of the pies. Brush the pastry, including the decorations with beaten egg.

Preheat oven to 240degree C. Bake the pie crusts for about 15 minutes until golden brown. The oven temperature can be reduced once the pastry has puffed up. Transfer the baked pastries onto the pie dishes containing the hot filling. Alternatively, bake the crusts of the pies with the filling.


Hainanese chicken pie (photo by Dr Ong)

Tropical Spice Garden
Lone Crag Villa
595 Mukim 2
Jalan Teluk Bahang
Batu Ferringhi

Tel : 04 8811797

 * Many thanks to Tropical Spice Garden for laying on this invitation.

* This is a reproduction of my article published in New Straits Times