Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Taste of Malaysia

Recently, I had the joy of taking a Malaysian cooking class with my new friends, Meredith and Elizabeth. What a treat it was! We cooked from 10:00 - 2:00 and learned so much...not just about cooking, but also about the colorful multicultural history of Malaysia. I'm convinced that there's no better way to experience a country than to spend a day in the kitchen with local cooks willing to share not only their family recipes, but also themselves. Our menu was - Otak-Otak (marinated fish in banana leaves), Char Koay Teow (Malaysian fried noodles), Kari Ayam (chicken curry), and Roti Jala (lacy pancake).

First, each dish was demonstrated. Next, we had the treat of sampling it. After that, we went to our individual cooking stations and cooked the recipe ourselves. Finally, as this picture shows, we feasted on a full serving of our creations. Yummy!

A picture of my Otak-otak...first time for me to use banana leaves in preparing a meal. The origin of this dish was interesting. Our instructor shared that otak means brain and that the recipe was developed as a way to use old fish, including its head or brain. The ingredients for otak-otak are: "fresh" fish, egg, fish curry powder, coconut milk, tamarind paste, kafir lime leaf, kaduk leaves, salt. sugar, banana leaves and spice paste( lemongrass, red chilies, onions).

This dish was so much fun to make. The Roti Jala or "lacy pancakes" had the texture and taste of a chewy crepe. The ingredients for Roti Jala are: flour, salt, tumeric powder, egg, coconut milk, water, oil. After being cooked on one side only, the pancakes are folded and then rolled before being served with curry.

A picture of one of my favorite dishes, Char Koay Teow! This is a national "comfort" food. I'm guessing our equivalent might be homemade macaroni and cheese. The ingredients are:oil, garlic, chili paste, fish cake, prawns, flat rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, chives, light soya sauce, thick soya sauce, water and salt.

The beautiful cooks who shared their talents and heritage

Figuratively speaking, there's more than one way to "taste" a country and just like in sampling any cuisine, there are going to be dishes that you love and others you'd prefer not to have again.
In closing this posting, I'd like to say that the cooking class at Lazat is an experience I truly look forward to having again and again. However, the attempted motorcycle mugging that took place yesterday, I'd prefer never to sample again! Fortunately, I am sitting in the safety of my apartment typing about it and counting my blessings rather than in a hospital room recovering from what "could" have happened. I'll be the first to admit that being jerked onto my hands and knees by a tug on my purse strap by a passing motorcycle mugger into a street full of rushing traffic really took the wind out of my sails, but I'm not going to let it stop me from continuing to explore this beautiful country that I've been blessed to spend a bit of time in. I'm a little scraped up and sore, but thanks to the experience, a whole lot wiser. Cheers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are OK! What a crazy experience...but certainly no less likely to happen in say, Oakland, in my neck of the woods. Your attitude about it is wonderful. Keep on keeping on!

I am envious of your new friends, getting to spend time cooking, and eating with you! I pray someday we will get that chance again...

Hugs to you, and prayers for the bumps and bruises to both body and soul to heal quickly.