It was pretty impossible to fit all the marvellous food Malaysia has to offer into my one hour episode of ‘A cook abroad’. So naturally quite a few things didn’t make it in the edit like:
2. Jungle squirrel
When I visited the Orang Asli tribe I was fortunate to be treated to jungle squirrel stew. I say ‘fortunate’ as squirrel stew is a bit of a delicacy. They showed me how to prepare the animal (skin and gut). When you start skinning it, it starts to ressemble a rat somewhat. It was stewed in a pot over a fire with an onion, chilli and a few very basic ‘jungle’ ingredients. Served on banana leaf with some rice like any other stew. It tasted similar to rabbit, only thing is there’s really not much meat on the animal, especially on the tail. Needless to say I don’t think a squirrel stew recipe will be ending up in my next cookbook.
3. Nyonya food
As a kid I grew up with Nyonya food. It’s a combination of the best of two cuisines: Malay and Chinese. My Malaysian grandma was a fantastic Nyonya cook, unfortunately she is no longer around, but I did get to cook with two fantastic women who know just about everything there is to know about this fantastic fusion food. Otak otak (a paste of fish spiked with galangal, chilli, coconut milk and a few other herbs all wrapped in a banana leaf) was on the menu. It took a while to get the knack of wrapping up the spicy fish paste but I managed to get a few done to make a generous plateful.
4. Dim sum at the local coffee shop
Dim sum has to be one of my favourite foods. While I was in Ipoh it was easy to spot huge steaming baskets full of them being served up for breakfast. The local coffee shop is the Malaysian equivalent of the greasy spoon (minus the grease). It’s a totally laid back vibe, thanks to the plastic chairs and tables. For me this kind of eating epitomises what Malaysian food is about. Cheap, cheerful and utterly delicious.
To see what Malaysian delicacies did make the show, tune into BBC2 9pm Monday 9th March (it’ll also be repeated and available on BBC iPlayer).