Our Favourite Noodle Dishes By Region


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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