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20th February 2013

From Amy Berman's fantastic Food Blog,!

A Malaysian Taste Sensation (and a Laksa recipe)

I'm not sure I could live without Asian food.  Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian - it all holds a very important place in my stomach.  I find these foods the most exciting.  They offer intense depth of flavour and years of tradition.  I love sitting down to a plate of sushi and knowing that someone has had to study (and study hard) to make it look as beautiful as it does.  I love eating a bowl of Pho and tasting the complexity of sour, sweet and spicy against what appears to be a clear simple broth.  I love when a plate of sizzling Szechuan arrives at my table and I know that the chilli will hit me in just the right place, at the back of my throat and not at the tip of my tongue.
So when I was invited to go along to a Malaysian Taste Sensation, hosted by Malaysia Kitchen, I didn't hesitate to say yes.  The night entailed a cookery lesson from Norman Musa, the chef behind Ning restaurant in Manchester, and a whole lot of eating.

We began with mocktails, mine was a refreshing ginger mojito, while we listened to Chef Musa tell us a bit about his background, Malaysian food in general and what we would be cooking.  Then onto the main event.  We watched as the chef made Kari Ayam (or chicken curry).  This creamy curry was only ever so slightly spicy, but what made it stand out for me was its sour note, achieved from the addition of tamarind juice.

Then onto my favourite recipe of the night, which I have shared with you below - Kari Laksa (curry laksa).  I don't think you'll ever see me turn down laksa.  Its layered richness and savouriness always wins favour with me.  And the one we made, under the chef's supervision, was no exception.  When Chef Musa complimented me and my plus one on our laksa attempt (asking if we had, in fact, made this dish before), I felt a surging rush of pride and whole lot of hunger.  I was ready to eat.

We didn't eat just yet though.  First Chef Musa wanted to laugh at us a bit.  He instructed us on how to make Roti Jala (Malaysian net pancakes), which are beautiful and intricate and no easy kitchen task.  I'd like to think my attempt was pretty good for a first-timer.  But mostly I just enjoyed wolfing it down, dunked in laksa gravy.

All in all, the night was hugely entertaining and has left me inspired to cook a lot more Malaysian food at home.  I don't think any of us have an excuse not to.  It's quick, easy and, for the most part, relatively healthy.  I plan to stock up on pandan leaf (my new favourite ingredient) at the next available opportunity.

Kari Laksa (Curry Laksa)
Courtesy of Malaysia Kitchen
(Serves 2)
6 deep fried tofu cake cubed (optional)
75g bean sprouts
10 king prawns, with shells on
150g vermicelli noodles
100ml coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Dry Ingredients
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
1 star anise
1 cinnamon bark
2 green cardamoms
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
20g chilli paste (optional)
Wet ingredients
2 lemongrass stalks (only use bottom halves)
8 shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger

Soak noodles and bean sprouts in boiling water for 10 minutes and set aside
Blend the wet ingredients until pureed
Using a bowl, mix the dry and wet ingredients together with 150ml water, 2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar.  Mix well
Heat a wok and add 6 tbsp cooking oil, fry the mixture until fragrant
Add 750ml of water and prawns
Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes
Next add the coconut milk and tofu.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat
Put noodles and bean sprouts in a separate bowl and pour over the gravy with prawns and tofu

Garnish with fried shallots, coriander leaves and sliced chillies (optional)

Malaysia Kitchen hit the road with Dhruv Baker

‘Malaysia Kitchen’ have teamed up with Dhruv Baker, winner of MasterChef 2010, for a tour of Wing Yip, the nation’s favourite Oriental Supermarket chain. As a presenter on Waitrose TV and columnist for Waitrose Food and Waitrose Weekend magazine, Dhruv is well placed to introduce and create delicious Malaysian food at home to the UK public.

Appearing at each of the Wing Yip Superstores in Birmingham (19th & 20th January), Manchester (26th & 27th January), Cricklewood (2nd & 3rd February) and Croydon (16th & 17th February) Dhruv and the Malaysia Kitchen team will be treating shoppers to a whole day of interactive cooking demonstrations and taster sessions. Dhruv will also be on hand to talk about what he enjoys about Malaysian food.

Asian food is already a familiar part of the UK’s cuisine having grown by 9% in 2011 alone.

Keynote research predicts that the ethnic foods industry will continue rising achieving growth of 45.1% between 2012 and 2016. Major multiples and specialist independents have already experienced this increase, often achieving double digit growth year on year and are keen to see it continue.

Malaysian cuisine has generated wide interest and tipped to be one of the break-out stars of ethnic food in 2013 with an ever increasing number of Malaysian products available in Wing Yip and other supermarkets, along with more Malaysian restaurants opening up across the UK.

Dhruv Baker agrees, saying ‘Malaysian food takes the best flavours from Indian, Chinese and traditional Malay food and merges them into something better than the sum of its parts. The result is an amazingly vibrant, delicious and varied cuisine.’

Customers at Wing Yip will be able to sample these delicious flavours for themselves and with Dhruv cooking them, what could be better?

Using a range of products available to buy at Wing Yip, Dhruv will be demonstrating how to simply create four delicious Malaysian dishes – Chicken Rendang, Curry Laksa, Nasi Goreng and Kway Teow Goreng.

Products being promoted and demonstrated by Dhruv include Dollee Chicken Rendang paste, Laksa Paste, Adabi Bihun Goreng Paste, Adabi Nasi Goreng Paste, Wing Yip Fried Shallots, Dollee Crispy Prawn Chilli, Adabi Kicap Manis, Lingham’s Chilli Sauces and other Malaysian treats.

With consumers leading increasingly busy lives, these pastes are an ideal solution for a quick meal that doesn’t compromise on taste. The products are not only delicious, they are great value.

Oriental supermarket Wing Yip are promoting Malaysian products having also seen a significant increase in the interest surrounding Malaysian food with a clear increase in sales figures,  number of products stocked and consumer enquiries and requests.

A spokesperson for Malaysia Kitchen, the campaign to promote Malaysian food in the UK, states that this growth is due largely to the UK consumers desire to retain excitement at meal time, without the expense of dining out.

Innovation in Malaysian product development can be seen in the new ranges that include meal kits and pastes. These simple options mean that it is possible for far more people to discover Malaysian foods and sample the fusion of flavours the cuisine can offer.

Trade Commissioner of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Mr Raja Badrulnizam Raja Kamalzaman, is very pleased that more and more people are discovering what traditional Malaysian food has to offer. Outlining the objectives of the Malaysia Kitchen campaign, he states: “What sets Malaysian dishes apart, and what Malaysian Kitchen is working to establish in the mind of the UK consumer, is the absolute authenticity of ingredients and influences that contribute to the cuisine’s rich and varied heritage”.

An online article from the 4Food site by Claire Dodd.

From spicy curries, aromatic soups and stir fries with a bit of oomph, you'll find it in Malaysia. What sets apart Malaysian food is the sheer complexity of spice and herbs combined with an appetite for heat. If you can't stand the heat… You probably don't want to go near the kitchen in the first place to be honest. Read on to discover how you can recreate this melting pot of Malay, South-East Asian and European flavours in your very own cooking pot, so to speak.

Gordon's Great Escape: spices

Culinary style

Malaysia's important position as a spice trading hub shaped the country's appetite. When the Portuguese, Dutch and British moved in, they brought their own grub with them. Influences from traders and labourers from China, India, Indonesia and Thailand too have found their way into popular Malaysian meals. They've long since settled down and decided to play nicely, but the result is a fusion of styles and rich and fiery spice.

Though long lists of complicated ingredients may strike fear into the hearts of even hardy shoppers… persevere! Many recipes use the same base ingredients that can be easily kept in the store cupboard. Set aside an afternoon for zig-zagging across the supermarket in search of elusive ingredients and put it down as calorie-offsetting.

Gordon's Great Escape: chillies

Bump and grind

Dig out your pestle and mortar from the back of the cupboard. Classic Malay-style food is mostly centred around a rempah, or spice paste to you and I, which is sautéed in oil to release the flavours. Ingredients can include turmeric, garlic, lemongrass, ginger and galangal – ginger's distantly related cousin. Coriander, cumin and fennel seeds are also regularly used in spice bases for dishes including curry and rendang.

Like much Asian food, you won't get far without a coconut, especially coconut milk. Kerisik may sound like a nasty tummy upset, but is actually roasted coconut. To make it, fry desiccated coconut until brown and blend into a paste.

And why have one chilli when you can have three? Chilli in one form or another features in most recipes. Red, green, bird’s eye, dried or chilli paste.

Gordon's Great Escape: soy sauce

Splash out

Soy sauce (light and dark), curry powder and palm sugar are also frequently used. One common ingredient that may prove hard to get hold of is the candle nut. Its high oil content, texture and taste are similar to that of the macadamia, which makes an ideal substitute.

If the recipe demands crispy shallots, then plan your meal around your budget-furniture requirements. Scandinavians are fond of them too. You can buy jars of crispy fried shallots in Ikea.

Gordon's Great Escape: Malaysia

Malaysian is the new black

Step aside China. Out of the way Thailand. The Malaysian government is on a mission to get Malaysian food on the menu in top restaurants around the world. And they've got their sights firmly set on us Brits. Malaysia Kitchen is a campaign which aims to educate British consumers on Malaysian Cuisine. You can find handy hints, listings of Malaysian restaurants and advice on ingredients on its website

12th November 2012

How one chef’s mission to raise demand for his native cuisine is turning into reality

Leading Malaysian chef Norman Musa has kicked off his summer and autumn tour of food festivals with his best-ever audiences.

Having seen a 20% increase in interest in his Malaysian cuisine in Dublin last month, he caused a real stir at last weekend’s Foodies Festival on his home turf of Manchester.

In spite of the mud-bath fields, 300 people packed into the cooking theatre on Saturday to watch the affable and entertaining chef cook up a great Malaysian Lime Curry and then to pick a member of the audience to join him on stage for some wok theatre!

Cooking up – indeed tossing up – some famous Char Kuey Teow noodles, his up-for-it student, Bex (in photo shown), rose to the occasion to prove Chef

Norman’s mission that making a Malaysian meal is easy. Demand for his cookbook afterwards was so high that the organisers had to hastily move book signing to a dedicated stall outside. Julie Umpleby, who was one of the 60 or so people who queued later emailed Musa, “I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the demonstration at the Tatton Foodies Festival on Saturday, in spite of the mud! I have never experienced Malaysian food before, but your enthusiasm and the beautiful aromas inspired me to buy your book with a view to trying to make the chicken curry you showcased.”

Chef Norman, who was also working in his York ‘Ning’ restaurant that evening, later travelled to Cardiff over the weekend. Making a welcome return visit to the ever-popular Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival at Cardiff Bay on Sunday, he pulled in a crowd of 120 despite another momentous event happening at the same time – a certain men’s final in tennis!

“All my hard work pays off when I see audiences’ reaction and hear of people inspired to cook and eat Malaysian food,” said Musa after his epic 48 hours of crisscrossing the UK.

“The momentum is really growing for Malaysian cuisine and I’m glad that I can be such an ambassador for it in Britain, with the support of the Malaysian government.”

Chef Norman’s programme of events are supported through the Malaysia Kitchen campaign by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, MATRADE.

He is next demonstrating at the EAT! NewcastleGateshead event on 28 July, 1pm, by the Eldon Square Shopping Centre.

ENDS, 9 July 2012

Further information and biographical details from Chef Norman’s managing agent: Andy Spracklen on 07809 566558,
visit his website:

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