Ask for a bowl of Tom Yam Soup at any seafood restaurant and you cannot help but notice a stalk or two of lemongrass among the other ingredients in the bowl. Any credible chef will tell you that lemongrass is the principal flavouring ingredient in a Tom Yam Soup. In Malaysia, lemongrass or “serai” is widely used in Malay and Nyonya cooking. It is also one of the main flavouring ingredients in our local favourites of rendang, satay, curry laksa, asam laksa and nasi kerabu.

It’s heady at first, the aroma of which is cloying, piquant and pungent. An additional sweetness teases the palate, both warm and fragrantly enticing. Make no mistake, however; in lavish quantities, this intoxicating spice can harm.

Soy sauce. Dark, light, sweet and salty – it is all of those things, and yet more. Flavour in every splash, aroma in cooking and colour to contrast occasionally dull-toned foods, it is an ingredient long-used in the cuisines of the East. The food culture of Penang is merely one in the many that have, since ages past, benefitted from the use of what can only be called the Ingredient of the Greats.

Pandan Story

After years of research, the quest of finding the national cake of Malaysia and our neighbour, Singapore is finally over. Lug by inbound tourists and just as well loved by the locals, the modest pandan chiffon cake has made headlines recently, named as one of the world’s 17 best cakes by the United States based broadcaster CNN. While the sheer pleasure of tearing into this fluffy, soft-as-clouds green hue goodness is ubiquitous across the two nations, what exactly lead to their glory?

The Heart of Fennel

Imagine, for a second, that plants bore offspring as a result of inter-species marriages. Take an onion and give it dill-weed to take as a wife. Then, marry the result of this union with one formed of celery and anise. As bizarre as this combination sounds, it isn’t, really – because what has just formed is the bulb of the fennel plant.

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