A well-known breakfast-time meal that is vastly popular with the people of Terengganu and Kelantan, nasi dagang (traders' rice) is a traditional delight comprising rice that is cooked in coconut milk, thus rendering it soft, milky and utterly delicious. Most times, it is served with either curries or sambal to provide that flavourful, spicy touch.
A Nyonya-inspired noodle-soup meal that is said to have originated in the Peranakan kitchens of Penang, Mee Jawa has long since become a national favourite. The noodles are generally served in thick tomato or potato based soup, and, with just that right dash of limes’ sourness, is sure to heal open any (or all!) faltering appetites.
Flavourful as local herbs and spices go, laksa is spawned off the peranakan culture, and has long since grown into the hearts and stomachs of food-loving locals and expatriats alike. The various cultures and areas in which laksa is served have, through the ages, resulted in variants being born to suit the flavours and tastebuds of the locals. This particular recipe is a variant that hails from Sarawak, and is one of the Four Points by Sheraton's best-selling signature dishes.
Originally an easy catch for kampung dwellers surrounding rivers, lakes and paddy fields, the snakehead (ikan haruan) today has become a prominent dish in Malaysia cuisine. It is often fried, grilled or put in soups, and is said to have healing properties for those in recovery from surgery and for new mothers in post-natal healthcare. This recipe utilises the distinct, delicious taste of ikan haruan for the making of one of Malaysia's favourite appetisers, otak-otak, which is cooked in a sauce of tempoyak (a filling made of durians). This delicious mix of flavours is wholly unexpected, yet entirely Malaysian.
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!