The Unsung Food Heroes Behind Home-Cooked Malaysian Food
Do you remember running to the kitchen to greet the intoxicating smell of spices being grinded in the mortar, or the hiss of soy sauce being splashed into a hot wok? There’s nothing quite like these memories we hold from childhood as our elders prepared our favourite dishes. With Merdeka just around the corner, we’re celebrating the age-old ‘heroes’ that have nourished our appetites and kept home-cooked Malaysian food the best in the world – to us Malaysians anyway.
1. Lingham’s Chilli Sauce
Just uttering the name of this classic sweet and spicy sauce is enough to make us hungry! The best friend of any type of fried chicken or Ayamas nuggets (or anything you fancy), it’s a true testament to its quality and taste that Lingham’s chilli sauce has remained a household favourite for many years.
2. Liza’s Paste
For most Malaysians, homemade Laksa or Ayam Masak Merah wouldn’t be the same without their trusty old Liza’s Paste! This popular paste or ‘perencah’ as it’s known locally has had us licking our plates clean and wondering aloud when the next bowl of curry is to be served. The assorted cooking pastes lend a sophisticated flavour to your meals even if you’re cooking as a beginner, so pick some up and surprise your friends!
3. Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce
Another familiar face in the kitchen larder, this Chinese product from the Guangdong province of China has spread worldwide since its inception. The brand name has become known for its universal quality of adding amazing taste to homemade Chinese style dishes such as stir-fried rice, noodles, and vegetables just to mention a few. Established in 1888, the entire company grew around the popularity of its oyster sauce which we Malaysians are very thankful for.
4.Galangal + Serai
Galangal is a close relative of ginger and is probably quite tired of hearing how much it bears resemblance to ginger. However, they are easily distinguishable by taste – galangal has a tart, citrusy flavour while ginger is much spicier and stronger in taste. Serai is the ever-fragrant lemongrass stalk that goes hand-in-hand with galangal and other spices to make our favourite dishes such as Rendang and Thai-style curries. Apart from their unique taste, these spices pack a variety of medicinal benefits that include anti-fungal & anti-microbial properties.
5. Baba’s Curry Powder
If you’re a child of the 90’s and before, you can probably recite the entire Baba’s jingle that used to play on TV (we can). This ubiquitous cooking powder has flavoured many a curry and is responsible for most of the tastes and smells that we associate with a Malaysian kitchen. Founded in 1977, their curry powders and spice mixes have continually grown in popularity across all cultures in Malaysia and around the world.
Find these and more unsung food heroes among our cooking sauces and Malaya Kitchen sections which carry essential spices needed to cook your way into the heart of any Malaysian.
Selamat Hari Merdeka from B.I.G.