By Wendy Hutton, Luca Invernizzi Tettoni
Drawing on their multi-ethnic background, Malaysians have built particular adaptations on Asian favorites like Malay satay, chinese language fried noodles, and Indian curry puff.
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Extra resources for Authentic recipes from Malaysia
Substitute mint and coriander leaves. Lemongrass is a fragrant lemony stalk used whole in soups and curries, or ground as part of a basic spice mix. Lemongrass stems are usually sold in bunches of 3-4 stems in the supermarket. The tough outer layers should be peeled away and only the thick lower third of the stem is used. Always slice the stems crosswise before grinding to get a smooth paste. Limes of two varieties are used in Malaysia. The larger limes, limau nipis, are slightly smaller than average Western limes, and change from green to yellow when ripe.
Any Asian supplies store should stock this type of cleaver, which is far more effective at chopping up poultry, fish and crabs, and mincing meat than a normal kitchen knife. For all types of Malaysian cooking, particularly Chinese, a wok (kuali) is essential. The shape of the conical wok distributes the heat evenly, while its sloping sides ensure that when you're stir-frying, food falls back into the pan and not out over the edge. It's also more practical for deep-frying, and allows the food to be cooked in less oil, and for the right amount of evaporation for dishes which begin with lots of liquid and finish with a trace of very thick sauce.
It uses almost all the spice paste ingredients of the Malacca version, then adds the fragrant bud of the wild ginger, laksa leaf, pungent prawn paste, shredded pineapple and raw onion, and drenches the lot with a tamarind-sour gravy with no coconut milk added. Nonya cakes are renowned for their richness and variety. Most are based on Malay recipes, using inexpensive and easily available ingredients such as freshly grated tapioca root, sweet potato, agar agar, gelatin, glutinous rice, palm sugar and coconut milk, with additional flavouring from the pandanus leaf.