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A Peranakan turkey

By Sylvia Tan
18 December 2012 5:36 PM Updated 18 Dec 2012

A Peranakan turkey

Photo: Anton Kilayko, The Peranakan Magazine

Don’t worry about the bird drying out. It is easier than you think to roast a turkey that is beautifully golden yet moist.

While some cooks have resorted to brining the bird to obtain moist flesh, a quick roasting on high heat would usually do the trick.  And yes, with lots of that lovely herb oil rubbed all over the bird.

Note: allow at least 24 hours per 2 kilos to defrost turkey in the fridge.


Recipe serves 10-12
Preparation time:
3.5 hours, excluding defrosting time
Cooking time:
2 hours

1 4-5 kg turkey, defrosted according to package instructions
1 medium-sized onion, cut into short lengths
1 stalk carrot, cut into short lengths
1 stick celery, cut into short lengths
1 small bunch Thai sweet basil, washed
1 small bunch kaffir lime leaves, washed
1 small bunch laksa leaves, washed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon belacan (shrimp paste)
¾ cup vegetable or olive oil
To taste, pepper
A sprig kaffir lime leaves, to stuff
1 tablespoon cornflour
[Optional] 1 cup white whine

1. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and place in a pot with water to cover. Add an onion, carrot and celery stick. Cook slowly for one hour. Strain and keep aside one cup. Freeze rest of stock for another use.
2. Using only the herbs' leaves and tender stems, plucked into short lengths, process in a chopper with oil, belacan and salt till roughly chopped.
3. Wash turkey well inside and out and dry with paper towels.
4. Rub herb paste over turkey, including the cavity. If you can, rub some paste under the skin.
5. Leave turkey in the fridge to marinate covered for at least two hours.
6. Heat oven 200ºC. Place kaffir lime leaves into the cavity of the bird and roast on a pan in the middle of the oven.
7. Cook for one hour, loosely covered with foil, then remove foil, reduce heat to 180ºC and roast for another hour until the bird is golden brown and cooked. Test by poking a fork into the thickest part of the thigh, if juices run clear, it is ready.
8. Remove turkey from pan and rest for half an hour. Pour a cup of stock (or white wine) into the pan. Heat over the stove, scraping to dissolve the burnt bits. If liked, add corn flour and stir till sauce is thickened. Season to taste.


Food writer and author of eight cookbooks – ‘Mad, Madder and Maddest About Food’, ‘Home Cooking’, ‘Singapore Heritage Food’, ‘Taste, Eat to Live’ and ‘Modern Nonya’ – Sylvia Tan has covered every cuisine, from home-cooked Singapore food and healthy Asian to Peranakan cooking. Her column ‘Eat to Live’ in The Straits Times focuses on healthy cooking. A former deputy news editor for The Straits Times newspaper, she is frequently called upon to write and gives talks on Singapore food heritage. She is now a freelancer.

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