Saturday, September 27, 2014
Discovering Malaysian Dishes
Fall is the time of year to discover and sample new flavors.One should be Malaysian cuisine, especially if you're tired of Chinese and Japanese. this is a different kind of Asian cooking, a mélange of East blending with West. Malaysia is located next to Thailand along with Singapore and near the Philipines.The main culinary influences are Filipino,Indian and Thai with lesser influences from the Britain,Portuguese and Dutch.The last was probably due to the sailors and missionaries who visited and settled the area.Two of the most used ingredients are chili peppers, in particular, bird's eye chili, an extremely hot variety.Another ingredient is a shrimp paste called belacan.It's pressed into a block and sun dried.It's an acquired smell and taste.Belmican can be ground and used with other spices such as garlic, shallots, Ginger and onions , to create rempah.It can also be blended with lime juice and shallots for a wet paste and condiments too.Coconuts are another key ingredient in Malaysian cooking. it's usually used as flakes or toasted and then ground into a powder called kerisik.Coconut fronds and sugar made from the coconut flower are also used in meal prep.All these ingredients make Malaysian cuisine a funky marriage of very sweet and very salty tastes.You can try an afternoon kuih, a meal of bite sized goodies.This is probably taken from the British high tea.Tidbits are a combo of small cakes and sweets.Imagine Alice In Wonderland's tea party with an Asian vibe.Fanciful cakes share plates with curry puffs, small pies filled with chicken / and or potatoes.Dishes of rice pudding are served along side of small rounds topped with shrimp paste. If you want something more substantial then think about trying Ayam goring ,a spicy fried chicken, zested with turmeric and other spices.Another dish, also involving fried chicken, a ram masak me rah,are braised in a spicy tomato and pea sauce.Curry is also big in Malaysian cooking. Gulai is a curried stew, that can be made from chicken but also beef or mutton.It can also be created with seafood and fish.Exotic veggies such as cassava are added with turmeric used for color and taste.The Chinese influence is strong as seen in its' ketupat.These are boiled rice dumplings cooked in palm frond pouches.Itis served for the Muslim holiday of Eid and is stuffed with curried beef.Many foodies are familiar with the Thai version of satay.It's a kind of kabob and cooked over an open grill it's super tasty and super fun to eat.It can be made from chicken or beef, first marinated and highly spiced.Desserts are heavily infused with coconut, both the flesh and the milk.Aikskrim potong is a kind of Popsicle made with coconut and condensed milk.Those two ingredients are also key in coconut candies, a kind of divinity fudge made for special occasions and holidays.Bean paste and curd are also used, sweetened and made in to puddings. Maylasian food is a different and exciting change of pace from the usual Asian fare.Try it to experience a new range of combined flavors and exotic dishes.It's a fun and fiery way to welcome in the fall.