Besides language, culture and clothings, food is also a significant piece in the collective traditions of a community. In the communities of Northern Malaysia: Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak, the people are known to utilise a range of spices in crafting their unique cuisines. Many among the cooks of these communities choose to combine spices from various origins – India, the Middle East, with slight touches of colourful Thailand. Because of this, the use of lemongrass, kaffir lime, dessicated coconut, spice seeds and the like are regarded as necessity rather than choice. The North is also widely known and discussed as a food paradise in Malaysia, in large part due to the significance and specialty of its cuisine. Penangites in particular employ the use of ghee and Indian spices in their curries. In Kedah, Perlis and Perak, however, the paradigm shifts in favour of desiccated coconut. Albeit little and rather unremarkable, these little nuances of flavour, when combined in blends become nothing short of culinary magic, turning each and every Northern dish into a unique dining experience in a class of its own.
Spice up your Chinese New Year with an unconventional twist – with Cordon Bleu’s chef Franck Bruwier’s recipe for reconstructed “yu shang”, you will find the melding of French with other cultures a perfect amalgamation of all things culinary. As the French say: bon appetit!
Another interesting local fish to savour is the river-caught catfish also known as “Pak Suk Kong”. This fish is steamed together with “katuk” leaves or sauropus in English. The fish’s silky smooth meat truly marries well with the natural sweetness of the “katuk” leaves.
In traditional Chinese cuisine, chicken and glutinous rice are often partnered, most notably in a dim sum favourite, ‘lo mai kai’ – glutinous rice chicken. This recipe, however, brings the other up a notch with flavourful mushrooms, fragrant chestnuts, and just a dash of Chinese Shao Xin wine. You may choose to omit the wine if you object to its presence; worry not, for the recipe maintains its integrity and absolute deliciousness!