Our Favourite Noodle Dishes By Region

15

September, 2018

Our Favourite Noodle Dishes By Region

Happy Malaysia Day! Like us, you probably enjoy utilizing weekends to take a drive out either to Ipoh, Penang, or southward to Johor to gorge on famous local delicacies. Food hunting is one of the many privileges we enjoy as Malaysians as we are spoilt for choice. It is quite difficult to categorize particular foods as ‘the best’ (pretty much everything we eat is ‘best’), so we narrowed it down to our favourite noodle dishes by region.

Northern Peninsula: Penang Asam Laksa

We’re well aware of how seriously Penangites take their food, especially when it comes to noodles – so after much deliberation, we settled on Asam Laksa as our pick due to its wide-reaching audience and cross-cultural roots. Believed to have evolved over many generations of Peranakan Nyonya (Malay-Chinese) influence, this dish generally consists of rice noodles, vegetables, and shredded fish nestled in an uber-flavourful fish broth. The fish broth is made from spices, lemongrass, and tamarind peel which gives this dish its distinctive taste that leaves you dreaming about it for days afterwards. Add a mound of fresh vegetables, herbs, prawn paste, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime and you have the quintessential Malaysian treat. Locals of all races and international food enthusiasts travel from far and wide to Penang for a bowl of this zesty slurp-explosion.

Central Peninsula: Ipoh Hor Fun

Malaysian comfort food at its best; picture yourself in a tank top and short pants enjoying a steaming bowl of noodles while sipping on a cup of teh panas (hot tea). Your food trip is not complete until you’ve tasted the magic of kai see hor fun, known to many simply as Ipoh Hor Fun. The charming dish mainly consists of flat rice noodles in a prawn and chicken broth, topped with shredded chicken, sprouts, and sliced prawns. Be prepared to line up because this savoury soup tends to run out in a flash (go early!). There are many hawkers that have become famous for their soup, some with clear broths and others that are thick and creamy – but all of them offer quality versions of this heritage dish. Well worth a trip to the laid-back food haven town of Ipoh, Perak. Almost all hor fun stalls stand next to a decent Ipoh Chicken Rice stall, so make sure you get some of that too!

Southern Peninsula: Johor Beef Noodles

Move aside Vietnamese noodles, pho Johor Beef Noodles is here to rule the roost. Many Malaysians look forward to taking a trip down south Peninsula for a wholesome bowl of beef noodles. Signature versions of this dish include chewy, tender cuts of beef sitting on a pool of rice noodle soup, sometimes accompanied by omasum (stomach), tripe, and beef tendons, along with chopped vegetables. What gives this dish its unforgettable hearty taste is the special beef broth, cooked for hours in beef bone and herbs. If you haven’t already, be sure to get some beefore they run out (safer to go before lunch time).

East Malaysia: Sarawakian Kolo Mee

The pride and joy of Sarawakian natives, Kolo Mee is quickly becoming an international star as word of its deliciousness has spread through Asian food courts in London, Melbourne, and other major cities. Kolo Mee looks very much like Wan Tan Mee, another local favourite, but it is often regarded as less salty and offers a combination of both minced and barbeque marinated meat. Non-halal versions are also available which are known as ‘Mee Kolok’ or ‘Mee Sapi’. If you can’t find a Kolo Mee stall near you, it is a great idea to take a trip down to beautiful Sarawak and enjoy it just the way the locals do.

Fancy your very own bowl of noodles? You could save a trip and try cooking it at home! We’ve sourced the finest local ingredients that are ready and waiting at Malaya Kitchen, so drop by B.I.G. to gather everything you need. In the spirit of Malaysia Day, we wish you happy cooking!

Experience a complete grocery adventure through our impressive array of specialised ingredients and gourmet products at Ben’s Independent Grocer today!

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A Closer Look At Local Farming

28

August, 2018

A Closer Look At Local Farming

The wealth of information (and misinformation) about food on the web has made society very conscious about diet and food sources. Any article mentioning GMOs or ‘mass agriculture’ can make you stare at the food at the end of your fork and wonder how it got there. In line with our Local Merdeka Fair, here’s a little peek into the B.I.G. world of sustainable agriculture to provide some insight behind the produce in our Botanical section.

We said hello to Julian Roe, Managing Director of Genting Garden which operates farms in Genting (Unit Hydroponik) and Cameron Highlands (Bertam Valley and Tanah Rata). As with all our farming partners, we had to stop ourselves from saying ‘Hey how’s it growing’.

Farming Methods- Gather, Rinse, Peat

http://www.canna-uk.com/what_makes_good_quality_soilless_growing_medium

Julian explained the concept of Soilless Culture; a method of farming that does not use soil, but rather a specially curated solution of nutrients mixed with water. Certain crops like lettuce are grown in a recirculating flow of Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), continuously flowing past the roots of the crops to maintain optimal levels of nutrients, water, and oxygen. A great benefit of soilless-growing is that nutrients are essentially chosen by the plants according to their needs, as opposed to leaking into soils and waterways (which happens with traditional farming methods).

Fruiting vine crops like tomato, capsicum, and cucumber are also grown without soil, using a coco peat bag culture. Peat is a growing material consisting of semi-decomposed vegetable matter, whereas coco peat is made using dried coconut husk fibres. Using this method, the roots of the vine crops anchor into the coco peat bags while being irrigated by an automatic drip solution. The automatic drip is connected to a computer network that feeds it information directly from the weather station. With technological help, you get an organic, safe, and eco-friendly way to grow crops.

Farming Challenges – When the Growing Gets Rough

Extreme and irregular weather patterns can cause shock to the plants’ growing process, therefore maintaining an ideal environment is very important. Sufficient human resources are required for this as the act of harvesting crops is very labour intensive. Pests need to be expelled and unwanted diseases need prevention to ensure all-year round production of quality crops.

To stop things from getting veggie serious, Julian’s farming company adopts the latest in farming technology, cooperating with MARDI, The Department of Agriculture, and University Putra Malaysia (UPM), where research is carried out for the industry-wide benefit of Malaysia’s horticulture.

Sustainable growing practices are implemented under the supervision of expert managers, such as growing crops in enclosed netting and greenhouse cladding for protection. Wastage is also reduced to a minimum by harvesting according to order, and any extra produce is divided amongst employees and the local community at no charge.

Sow What Do We Reap?

The types of produce that are freshly harvested and shipped daily to our grocer include vine crops such as heirloom tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Capsicum, Palermo Sweet Peppers, Cocktail Amoroso Tomatoes, Gourmet Cherries, and Japanese Cucumbers. There are also a variety of herbs like Peppermint, Basil, Lemon Thyme, Marjoram, Coriander, along with salad leaves such as Salanova Lettuce, Green & Red Corals, and Baby Romaine. We did not ask how workers get paid if there’s no celery.  

We hope we’ve planted some seeds of knowledge that’ll enrich your vegetable-buying experience the next time you’re at B.I.G.! Don’t miss the excitement of our Local Merdeka Fair while it’s around (happening until 2nd September) – more details here https://bit.ly/BIGLatest    

Experience a complete grocery adventure through our impressive array of specialised ingredients and gourmet products at Ben’s Independent Grocer today!

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5 Home-Grown Products You Should Know About

24

August, 2018

5 Home-Grown Products You Should Know About

Merdeka Day is approaching and we can almost taste the patriotic joy in the air, especially when we’re snacking on our favourite local products! Home-grown and proud of it, these artisanal creations are well on their way to building an international fanbase. Here are 5 (among the many) local products that are making a B.I.G. impact:

1. Nuts Enough

Nut-lovers ahoy! It’s not always easy to find a delicious nut spread, but we can vouch that these tasty nut butters will cashew by surprise. Nuts Enough produces healthy natural nut spreads that are vegan-friendly, heart-friendly, packed with vitamins and loaded with the goodness of plant-based proteins. Our favourite is the Maple Cinnamon Almond Spread which is so good that we’re nuts enough to eat it on its own. Check out their full range of products at www.nutsenough.com FB: @nutsenough IG: @nutsenough

2. Michelle’s Artisan Fruit Spread

https://www.facebook.com/102589153198568/photos/a.112750945515722.1606.102589153198568/112750948849055/?type=3&theater

From humble beginnings of making homemade jams without artificial preservatives for friends and family, these 100% natural fruit spreads have since amassed a loyal customer base who enjoy them with bread, pastries, and even as ice cream topping! Try their creative and flavourful combinations of Banana & Vanilla Bean, Papaya & Orange Peel, Pineapple & Passionfruit, and many more! Get yours and spread the good word.

Website: https://michellefruitjam.webs.com/ FB: Michelle’s Artisan Fruit Spread IG: @michelle.artisanfruitspread

3. Gula Melts

http://www.malaysianflavours.com/2017/07/gula-melts-coconut-nectar-sugar.html

Gula Melts produces 100% natural Coconut Nectar & Coconut Nectar Sugar by boiling the sap of the coconut palm flower until it becomes a thick, sticky aromatic nectar. Its distinctive taste and myriad of health benefits has made it a popular alternative to conventional sweeteners in just about every kind of food and beverage we consume daily. Get some recipe ideas at their webpage: http://www.gulamelts.com (FB: @gulamelts IG: @gulamelts)

4. Huey n Wah’s Marshmallows

https://hueynwah.my/product/gourmet-marshmallows-variety-box/

Who can say no to marshmallows? Not us, and especially not to these guilt-free treats from Huey & Wah. These guys take pride in creating fluffy gourmet marshmallows made from the finest ingredients without using artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. Whether you like to melt them in hot chocolate or eat them on their own, enjoy pairing different flavours with your drinks and desserts! Read the FAQ section of their website for drink-pairing ideas: https://hueynwah.my/ FB: @hueynwah IG: @hueynwah

5. Pichacotti by Picha Project

https://firstclasse.com.my/category/people/page/4/

Serving up delicious food for a noble cause – The Picha Project is a social enterprise that empowers marginalised groups in Malaysia by catering and delivering authentic traditional meals inspired by 5 different cultures (to date). Named after the son of the first refugee family taken under their wing, Pita (pronounced Pi-cha), this organisation harnesses and nurtures the cooking skills of refugee parents which in turn provides income opportunities to rebuild a new home and educate their children.

In line with their cause, you can buy jars of Pichacotti (biscotti) at B.I.G., available in 2 flavours – Cranberry & Almond and Chocolate Almond, made lovingly by Mona and Sakina (respectively), two mothers working towards a better life for their families. Lend your support and find out more at http://www.pichaproject.com/ FB: @thepichaproject IG: @thepichaproject

Go Local Lah at our Local Merdeka Fair (23rd August – 2nd September) and show some love for your local artisans! More details on fair happenings here https://bit.ly/BIGLatest    

Experience a complete grocery adventure through our impressive array of specialised ingredients and gourmet products at Ben’s Independent Grocer today!

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Adding A Malaysian Touch To Your BBQ

13

July, 2018

Adding a Malaysian Touch To Your BBQ

The art of cooking food over a charcoal fire is an age-old tradition in Southeast Asia, and is particularly prominent in Malaysian cooking. While working in a Malay restaurant many years ago, New York-based chef Zakary Pelaccio learnt that “Fire management is central to Malaysian grilling”, accurately pointing out the secret behind piquant traditional favourites such as Ikan Bakar (grilled fish). In conjunction with B.I.G.’s BBQ Fair (5th – 15th July), we’ve gathered some truly mouth-watering local delicacies for your sizzling and grilling pleasure.

Ikan Bakar (Spicy Grilled Fish Wrapped In Banana Leaves)

Recipe from RasaMalaysia.com

The quintessential classic Malay dish, you’ll be hard put to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy a serving of Ikan Bakar. The use of banana leaves amplifies the smoky taste of chargrilled fish, further complemented by multiple layers of spicy sambal. Enough said, you have to try this the next time you fire up the barbeque.

Ingredients:
1 lb fish fillet or whole fish of your choice (eg: red snapper)

For Grilled Fish Sambal:
6 oz. fresh red chilies, deseeded and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon toasted belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste)
4 oz shallots
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons fish sauce to taste
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/2 lime or 1 calamansi lime (limau kasturi), extract the juice
2 lemongrass, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons oil

For Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment:
3 fresh red chilies, deseeded
2 bird’s eye chilies, deseeded
1 teaspoon of toasted belacan
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
8 tablespoons of water + tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)

Method:

Grilled Fish Sambal:
1. Prepare the sambal by grinding chilies, shallots, belacan and lemongrass in a food processor. Make sure the sambal paste is well blended and smooth.
2. Heat up a wok and “tumis” (stir-fry) the sambal paste until aromatic or when the oil separates from the sambal paste. Add the seasonings: salt, sugar, and fish sauce and do a quick stir, dish out and set aside.

Sambal Belacan and Sliced Shallots Condiment:
1. Soak the tamarind pulp with water for 15 minutes and extract the juice. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, pound/blend the red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, and toasted belacan.
2. Add tamarind juice, sugar, salt, and sliced shallots to the sambal. Stir well and set aside.

Grilling the Fish:

1. Lay a few sheets of banana leaves and grease the surface of the banana leaves with some oil. Lay the fish fillet on top of the banana leaves and add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of sambal on top of the fish. Spread the sambal evenly.
2. Place the fish on top of the grill (upper rack with indirect heat) and cover the grill.
3. Wait for 8 minutes or so (depending on the heat) and flip the fish over to the other side. Add 2 – 3 more tablespoons of sambal on the other side of the fish. Cook for another 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
4. Transfer the fish and the banana leaves to the lower rack and grill for a couple of minutes with direct heat, or when you smell the sweet aroma of burnt banana leaves.
5. Transfer out and serve immediately with sambal belacan and sliced shallots condiment.

Grilled Vegetable and Rice Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

Recipe from bonappetit.com

This charming rice salad recipe will make you fall in love with vegetables all over again, as they taste so much better with rice when chargrilled to perfection. Perfect eaten both as a side dish or main course.

Ingredients:
For the Salad
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Vegetable oil
12 okra pods
3 ears of corn, shucked
2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise, centers scooped out
2 long red chiles (such as Holland or Anaheim), stemmed
1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1′ slices
1 tablespoon sea salt

Dressing and Assembly

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon palm sugar or (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nuoc nam or nam pla)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups (loosely packed) mixed fresh tender herbs (such as basil, cilantro, fennel fronds, marjoram, mint, and tarragon)
4 cups steamed jasmine rice

 

Method:
Salad
1. Preheat oven to 250 °. Spread out coconut (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan.
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grates with oil. Meanwhile, combine okra, corn, zucchini, chiles, eggplant, and salt in a large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
3. Grill vegetables (use a grill basket if you have one), turning frequently, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Place chiles in a medium bowl; cover tightly with plastic to let steam for easy peeling. Set chiles aside for dressing.
4. Cut corn kernels from cobs; place in a large bowl. Cut zucchini and eggplant into irregular 1″ pieces; place in bowl with corn. Trim any tough tops from okra and cut okra in half lengthwise; add to bowl. Set aside.

Dressing and Assembly

1. Peel or scrape off charred skin from chiles and discard. Purée chiles (with seeds) and garlic in a food processor or mash with a mortar and pestle until a coarse paste forms. Add sugar and process or pound until dissolved. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice.
2. Drizzle dressing over warm vegetables; add herbs and toasted coconut (if using); toss well.
3. Scoop steamed rice onto a platter and top with salad.

Homemade Lemang (Pandan Infused Coconut Rice Cooked Over Charcoal)

Recipe from TheBatikBoutique.com

Make use of your leftover ingredients from Raya and fire up some lemang on the grill! Lemang is a glutinous rice cake cooked painstakingly for many hours over hot charcoal. Even though the process is long and often requires a ‘change of shift’ between cooks, the end result is truly a labour of love.

Ingredients:
500 grams of glutinous rice  
4 cups of coconut milk
1 pandan leaf
1 large stick of bamboo
2-3 banana leaves
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Line the inside of the bamboo stick with banana leaves. You only need one, but for first timers the process can be difficult, as the leaves tear easily.
2. Wash and drain the glutinous rice.
3. Fill the bamboo stick with the glutinous rice.
4. Add a pinch of salt and the pandan leaf to the coconut milk and heat until you can smell the fragrance of the pandan. Pour the mixture into the bamboo.
5. Roast the whole bamboo next to an open fire or on a grill, turning it every 15 minutes, for 3 hours. Alternatively you can put the bamboo in a large pot with water and let it steam uncovered for 2 hours

Honey Glazed Grilled Pineapple

Recipe from FoodNetwork.com

An ideal dessert for a Malaysian barbeque, savour the enhanced sweetness and flavour of chargrilled nanas (pineapple), topped with ice cream for a feel-good treat. Bon pine-appletit!   

Ingredients:
1/4 cup honey
Juice of 2 limes (depending on how juicy the limes are)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 pineapple, cut into 3/4-inch thick rings, core removed
3/4 cup vanilla ice cream

Mothod:
1. In a baking dish, mix together the honey, lime juice, and cinnamon. Place the pineapple slices in the glaze and let marinate 2 hours, turning occasionally.
2. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat.
3. Place the pineapple slices on the preheated grill. Grill on both sides until the glaze caramelizes and grill marks form, about 2 minutes per side.
4. To serve: Place the pineapple slices on individual plates and top with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle the remaining honey syrup over the top.

Grilled Durian

Recipe courtesy of HerInspirasi.com

Yes, you read that right! The idea sprouted when a video showing durians being grilled over charcoal went viral on social media last year. The craze seems to have died down since, so why not revive this unique method since it’s barbeque season? It combines 2 quintessential aspects of Malaysia  – durians and cooking over charcoal fire. Durian purists may frown upon this method of eating, but some find it tastes better than eating it raw! As we say, belum cuba belum tahu (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it).

Method:

1. Put durian(s) on charcoal heat and start grilling.
2. Turn the durian over from time to time to make sure it is well-cooked.
3. Once the durian shell starts to crack, continue grilling the durian for another 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Take note of the colour of the durian. The durian is well-cooked when the shell turns black.
5. Eat while the filling is hot, but be careful not to burn your tongue!

We hope we’ve got you excited to bring that strong kick of Malaysian flavour to your barbeque party! Find everything you need to prepare these delicacies at our grocer, paying particular attention to the spices and condiments from Malaya Kitchen – they pack a hefty portion of the unique flavour these dishes have to offer. See you at B.I.G., and happy grilling! .

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