Malaysian cuisine is as diverse as the nation itself, fusing the culinary traditions and flavours of Asian, Arabian and European cooking, making it an appetising destination to visit for food lovers and Channel 4 Food has named Malaysian cuisine as a top trend for 2012. British Travellers also site gastronomy in their top 5 reasons to choose a holiday destination.
Each state in Malaysia has something different to offer in terms of culinary delights, with the capital Kuala Lumpur offering the most diverse range of food from all over the world. Areas such as Ipoh and Penang receive many tourists who visit specifically to savour local favourites, such as asam laksa, which is a delicious combination of rice noodles and spicy fish gravy and the aromatic char koay teow made from flat rice noodles stir fried with soy sauce, prawns, cockles, chilli, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. The Kelantan region is a true celebration of Malay culture, serving exotic Malay food rich in flavour, whilst the town of Kajang in the Selangor region is reputed to serve the best satay (skewers of thick, succulent meat barbecued over charcoal embers) in the country. Malacca, in the southern region, is home to delicious Baba Nyonya food, much of it served in quaint cafés in historical shophouses.
Malaysia’s culinary tradition has resulted in the country producing some of its own world renowned chefs. Chef Wan (Redzuawan Ismail) is the 'Food Ambassador of Malaysia' who has successfully travelled the world introducing the culinary art of Malaysian Cuisine. Penang born, but now Manchester based, Norman Musa is a rising star as a chef proprietor of the new Ning Restaurant in York, whilst Caroline Mi Li Artiss is another up and coming Malaysian chef. Caroline is half Malaysian and half English, specialising in Malaysian and Asian cuisine, producing healthy recipes and meal plans.
Caroline and Norman both campaign on behalf of ‘Malaysia Kitchen’, a Malaysian Government initiative that aims to educate and inform British consumers about the inspiring world of Malaysian cuisine and inspire British Tourists to visit Malaysia. Visit www.malaysiakitchen.co.uk for more information, to locate one of the 50+ UK Malaysian restaurants near you, try the 12 recipes and find details on where to find their ingredients. The initiative has recently seen Chef Norman and Chef Caroline cooking and distributing fresh Malaysian cuisine on the ‘Malaysia Kitchen Street Food Tour’ that took in 5 UK cities and this will be repeated at Taste of London on 21 – 24 June 2012. Alternatively, visit Malaysia during Fabulous Food 1Malaysia – Malaysia’s own International Gourmet Festival taking place throughout October. Master Chef winner Tim Anderson is the 2011/12 official Malaysia Kitchen Ambassador and Tim has demonstrated how to cook the perfect Malaysian dish at events throughout the UK, following in Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein’s footsteps.
Tim Anderson, 2011/2012 official Malaysia Kitchen Ambassador talks of his culinary travels to Malaysia: “Whenever I travel to a new country, I make a point to visit at least one grocery store while I'm there. They're like living museums; collections of objects that comprise and nourish a culture and Malaysia is no different”.
To become the real envy of the dinner party circuit, share your Malaysian holiday experiences as well as tastes. A great way for holiday makers to sample truly traditional cuisine is to visit Malaysia on a homestay programme. Malaysia's communities have opened up their homes to allow foreign guests to taste the village lifestyle. During the homestay, guests can receive cooking lessons, learn how to gather and prepare a meal with the host family. For example a Penang Homestay accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner in a double room for two is 280MYR or £56 per couple for 1 night, see www.go2homestay.com. Alternatively a 10 night stay in four star hotels including return flights start at £1,099 per person.
For more information, please contact:
Tel: 020 8877 4509
Hayes & Jarvis (0844 415 1918 / www.hayesandjarvis.com) has a 10-night twin-centre break available to Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia, priced from £1,099 per person – saving 21 per cent (£294pp). Departing on 2 November, the package comprises three nights’ room only accommodation at four-star Hotel Istana in Kuala Lumpur (with one bonus night) followed by seven nights’ B&B at the four-star plus Hard Rock Hotel Penang (with three bonus nights), Malaysia Airlines flights from London Heathrow and transfers.
Audley Travel 01993 838 100 (www.audleytravel.com) taking in the key highlights of Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang and Langkawi, Audley Travel can organise a gastronomic 2 week tour from £2190. "Malaysia offers some of the best food in Asia" says Caroline Parry of Audley Travel. "Taking time to travel up the west coast means a myriad of delights, and time to relax on the lovely beaches of Langkawi at the end of the tour". The price of £2290 for two weeks includes international flights from Heathrow, domestic flights in Malaysia and all applicable taxes. Also included are private transfers, a cooking class and some excursions. Accommodation is on a b & b basis in 4 star hotels throughout.
Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offer seven nights in Malaysia, staying two nights on room only at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur and five on room & breakfast at the Shangri La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Penang, including flights from London with domestic flights and transfers in resort. Prices for 2012 are from £1478 per person, based on two sharing.
MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIES TWICE DAILY INTO KUALA LUMPUR FROM LONDON HEATHROW.
HAVE A GO AT CHEF CAROLINE MI LI ARTISS’ ASAM LAKSA RECIPE:
This is a classic dish found all over Malaysia from the Peranckan culture. There are traditionally two types of laksa – curry laksa and ayam laksa. Curry Laksa is a spicy coconut curry soup with noodles while asam laksa is a sour fish soup with noodles. There are many different regional variations of Laksa in Malaysia including Johor Laksa, Penang Laksa and Sarawak Laksa.
To start, add all the ingredients for the spice paste into your blender with 1 tablespoon of oil and whiz until it becomes a fine paste. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan and add the spice paste. Cook on a low heat for 7 minutes to make all the flavours infuse together. Then add the sugar and salt, cook for a further minute or two then add the water. Bring to the boil, then turn heat down to simmer and add the coconut milk. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Serves 4 people
• 10 macadamia nuts / or 5 brazil nuts• 1 stalk lemon grass
• 1 inch piece galangal (or ginger)
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp ground black pepper (use 2 tsp if you like it to have a kick!)
• 2 tsp ground coriander
• 10 shallots
• 4 cloves garlic
• 1 tsp belachan
• 6- 8 red chillies de seeded (depending on how spicy you like it)
• 1 litre / 4 cups water
• 400ml can coconut milk
• 2 tsp sugar (dark brown or palm sugar best)
• 2 tsp salt
• 4 tbsp sunflower oil
• 1 chicken breast cooked and shredded
• 250g fresh de shelled and cleaned king prawns
• 3 egg omelette shredded
• Handful of fresh coriander chopped
• 500g Fine rice noodles – vermicelli / meehoon cooked (you can use whatever noodles you fancy)
• Handful bean sprouts
• 1 large saucepan
• Small wok or frying pan