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.
STANDFIRST: When you mention the word dessert, most people will immediately think of traditional cakes, cookies or flaky pastries. But here in the Southeast region especially in Penang, we have our own unique dessert and it’s called Nyonya Kuih. This delectable bite- sized snack comes in different shapes, colours and texture which without a doubt make a crowd pleaser.
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.