All posts filed under: Malaysia


Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Do packaged herbs ever go on strike at the back of your fridge? Now, thanks to Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad, bundles of herbs can finally go to work in a dish that everyone will love. When herbs go on strike I wonder how many partially used packages of fresh herbs lay wilting at the back of fridges across America. I’ve certainly been there. Even though I “store” my herbs in the garden, disgruntled leaves occasionally congregate behind the eggs and mustard (the few remaining upright stems looking like picket signs). The problem? Outside of a putting basil in pesto or parsley in tabbouleh, it’s hard to use most fresh herbs up. To give our herbs a chance, we need to rethink how we use them. A pinch here or there doesn’t really do the trick when it comes to adding flavor or using them up. Standing them in a jar of fresh water helps tremendously (sometimes adding a couple of weeks of life to them). Another idea is to find a recipe that makes good use of …

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Monday Meal Review: Malaysia

THE SCENE Ava presses the back of the spoon on the rice, smashing it down into the banana leaf. She looks up at me and smiles. “Mmmm” “Looks good!” I say, watching her sneak a bite of the par-cooked rice before adding another spoonful to the cone. Later, when we eat dinner, Ava wolfs down three sticky rice towers – taking care to balance each one on end first. There are so many fun foods for kids in this great, big world. There’s no reason to get stuck in a processed junk food rut. These towers of coconut rice (called lemang) from Malaysia are a great example. Making them captivated little Ava, just two and a half years old, for a good hour, helping me, watching me, and playing with her finished work of art. The joy on her face is so beautiful. So much more sublime than what a little piece of candy can bring – that’s the kind of joy that fades almost the second she pops it into her mouth. There’s something about playing …

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Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang is an art. And I could eat it every single day of my life. While there are many ways to make this flavorful curry, there are two things for certain – the dish must be slow-cooked until the flavor absorbs completely into the meat, and – secondly – the curry must explode with flavor. In a good way. The flavor part is the easiest. In fact, there are so many amazing ingredients – galangal, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves to name a few – that you can’t help but make an amazing curry just by throwing them in a pot together. As for the slow cooking? Follow those famous words of wisdom and just  “Let it be.” NOTE: If you would like your hot pepper to grind smooth, simply soak it in hot water for half an hour. I like the little hot bits, so I processed it dry. Recipe inspired by the cuisine of Chef Norman Musa. Serves 2-3 Ingredients: For the stirfry paste: 3 stalks lemongrass, chopped 2 inches of thumb-thick …

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Toasted Coconut Paste for Curries | Kerisik

If you want to feel totally epic, trying making kerisik, a toasted, ground coconut paste that looks a great deal like natural peanut butter. Kerisik is used in Malaysia to thicken and flavor curries, like Beef Rendang. There’s something incredibly rewarding about making your own, whether you do it the traditional way (in a mortar and pestle) or the modern way (in a food processor). In just ten minutes your entire home fills with the warm smell of toasted coconut. For my kerisik, I used 14 oz package of frozen, shredded coconut (available at Asian markets and some latino markets). This makes about a cup of kerisik which you can then freeze for use whenever (and whenever) you need it. You can make as much or as little as you’d like. So, how to do it? First, thaw the coconut. You can also grate a fresh coconut, or use dried coconut (but that won’t be nearly as good, I’m told). Toast the coconut over medium heat in a large wok, stirring continually. In the first few minutes, the …

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Coconut Sticky Rice in Banana Leaves | Lemang

Today we’re going to make a tower… a tower of glorious height. And this tall, sturdy tower is going to be made out of rice. Our inspiration? The Petronas towers of Malaysia. Aren’t they stunning? I adore the fact that the skyscrapers are connected by a tiny walkway that seems to be a million, zillion miles up in the sky. But that’s a story for another day. The fact is, I am simply thrilled to make rice towers from Malaysia. You see, I’m falling more and more in love with glutinous rice which is the secret to building our edible tower. I first made glutinous rice for Laos and, yikes, was I ever scared of messing it up. After that Adventure, however, I learned that glutinous rice is much more forgiving than traditional long-grain rice. It’s very hard to screw up. Which means, of course, that I’ll be making it more and more. And add coconut milk into the mix? Let’s just call this recipe love at first bite. NOTE: For this recipe, you can …

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Menu: Malaysia

First of all, I hope you had a fantastic Valentine’s Day. I wish there were a way to capture the sweetness of yesterday. Ava thinks, despite my best efforts to explain otherwise, that Valentine’s Day is a destination, not an event. So, of course, she had to ask me if I was going “to” Valentine’s Day with her and papa. I, of course, said yes. While I’m thinking of it, here’s a Valentine that Ava got from a friend at little school. It’s a crayon! What a great global Valentine’s Day project. As for our Malaysian menu? The ingredients might sound strange and the shapes might be new to you, but this is a menu easy enough for little Miss Ava to make. Maybe not by herself, but pretty close! I think you’ll find the food of Malaysia definitely worth loving. What sounds good to you? Coconut Sticky Rice in banana leaves (lemang)  [Recipe] Glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and steamed inside banana leaves. The result? Epic, edible towers. P.S. This has 4 ingredients, including …

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Merdeka Day Parade (Independence day), photo by Amrufm

About the food of Malaysia

I’ll be honest with you. I did my research for Malaysia backwards. Well, backwards from what I usually do. What I usually do is crack open the books, absorb as much information as I can, before writing all about the country. This week, I simply popped in on my old college friend MC from Malaysia, via Facebook, and grilled him with 20 questions. What should I make? I asked him. And, then, on cooking day, I popped in with even more questions. He was very gracious and answered my questions for two days straight. Thanks to him, I ended up with a scrumptious menu (which you’ll see tomorrow, as usual). But, only after my head hit the pillow, did I realize that I knew almost nothing about Malaysian food except for what he told me. So let’s start there. Beef Rendang [Recipe] is pretty much the national dish. He told me so, just as others have before him. As with so many other foods, rendang is popular all over the region, not just in Malaysia. The curry, …

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