So as you all know I was away for over a month living my best life in Malaysia without a care in the world and not a single moment in the kitchen. After a short tint of feeling sorry for myself, it had to be back to business as usual which started with a cookery class at Dessetfirstuk.com and a takeaway night. Both events were incredibly hectic and somewhat of a baptism of fire, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting back into the swing of things.
This is my third attendance at Dessertfirstuk and it’s always a joy to teach others and impart whatever little knowledge I have on Malaysian cuisine. For this lesson we made curry puffs, coconut curry, and stir fried greens with dried shitake mushrooms and fungus. I know that the mere mention of fungus conjures up mental images of foot disease but trust me when I say it’s such a delicious ingredient and totally vegan friendly.
At first sight the menu might appear very basic and uninspiring but it does involve some technique like making the curry puff dough and then crimping the edges. The curry requires a paste or ‘rempah’ which is usually the basic starting point for most Malaysian curries. Getting the rempah spot on is essential as it will be the determining factor to the end result, and once you’ve grasped this stage it can be replicated for future dishes.
The stir fried greens is probably the one that mustered a yawn for those who are already adept in the kitchen, and yes I agree that most can rustle up a stir fry. However the aim is to introduce popular Malaysian ingredients such as the dried shiitake and fungus (yes that again!). Both are widely available in any Chinese grocery store and if you were unfamiliar with it, you may just walk past the aisle without ever giving it a second glance. Apart from stir fries it’s delicious in soups or noodles and a brilliant alternative to meat for those who don’t want to compromise on texture or taste and also want that intense umami flavour. Malaysia as a multicultural society boasts such a varied and diverse choice of cuisine that there is much to learn. If you fancy attending a class then contact Dessertfirstuk.com for bookings or if you would like a private lesson then get in touch with me directly!.
Takeaway nights involve a significant amount of prep and organisation but nonetheless it’s greatly rewarding. I just love the eager faces with gleaming eyes as they excitedly leave with bags of goodies in hand waiting to be devoured at home. Takeaways are actually available 7 days a week but with advanced notice as everything is cooked fresh with the best of ingredients, and I only advertise when I have a weekend free which is rare.
Following my recent trip home I decided that the menu should include all the dishes I enjoyed so everyone could have a little bit of Malaysia right here in the freezing U.K. So the offerings were bao buns stuffed with braised pork, Beef Rendang, my mums amazing Devil chicken curry, Nasi goreng (fried rice), Chinese roasted chicken rice, tomato rice, and plain basmati rice. Not a terribly extensive menu I grant you but I really just wanted to capture my favourites. Vegetarian options were available on request which is important to me as I want to reinforce the fact that Malaysian cuisine really is for everyone regardless of dietary preferences.
As I mentioned earlier, organisation is of utmost importance especially when faced with several orders all consisting of different dishes and different collection times. Short of military precision it’s vital that some sort of system is in place to ensure all the food goes out hot, everyone goes away with their exact order, and never ever late! So my absolute fool proof method is to work with a list, but I’ve always been a list kinda girl anyway. Lists are a massive help especially because going through menopause has caused my brain to become a sieve and also they prevent me from running around like a headless chicken on the day!
Once I know the exact dishes and quantities then it’s a trip to the Chinese supermarket, Indian grocery shop and the local supermarket. This might sound like a sheer nightmare for some but believe it or not I actually enjoy galavanting around and sourcing ingredients. In many ways it transports me back to the days when my mother and I used to shop in the Asian ‘wet markets’ that housed a plethora of fresh produce.
Even with all the planning and prep, when the day dawns there’s still a gazillion things to do and the day usually starts at 6am. Yet again it sounds terribly unappealing to be in the kitchen at that ungodly hour, but for me it’s like ceasing the day armed with food and utensils!
Once all of the filled containers have left my kitchen, I feel a deep sense of fulfilment and after the last collection I sit back, relax, and indulge in an extremely large G&T!
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