Malaysian-born chef Christina Arokiasamy was offered a cookbook deal after appearing on the Food Network in the US as host of Bespoke Malaysian Kitchen based on the idea that she would be introducing and teaching Malaysian dishes to Americans.
The cookbook, titled The Malaysian Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Simple Home Cooking, debuted in the United States yesterday.
Although Malaysian in nature, many of the dishes have been given a distinctly American spin, a move designed to appeal to American food lovers who may find unfamiliar ingredients daunting or difficult to source.
“This book is for people living in the United States who have travelled and love Indian, Chinese and Malaysian food, and know the flavours,” she says.
Here are three recipes from the book.
POTATO SAMBAL CASSEROLE
680g red potatoes, peeled
1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup sambal ulek chili paste or 6 fresh red jalapeños
6 tbsp peanut or coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
4 tbsp palm sugar
Cook potatoes in 8 cups of water in a pot over medium high heat until fork tender. Remove from pot and cool. Cut into quarters.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the spice paste by grinding the onion, tomato and sambal ulek in a food processor, adding a little water if needed to keep the blades moving. Set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes until the oil appears on the surface. Add coconut cream, water, fish sauce and palm sugar. Cook for another 10 minutes until the oil separates on the surface; the separation indicates the sambal is cooked. Adjust to taste with more palm sugar and fish sauce as desired.
Add the potatoes into the skillet, and cook in the sambal for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Alternatively, pre-heat the oven to 175°C. Place the cooked potatoes in a casserole and top generously with the cooked spice paste and bake for about 25 minutes.
BRAISED PORK BELLY WITH SOY GARLIC SAUCE
1.3kg pork belly, skin removed
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
10 garlic cloves
Rinse the pork belly under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel, then cut into 4cm pieces.
Place a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Put the pork belly, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce and garlic in the pot. Cover and cook, about 1 1/2 hours until fork tender.
Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium and bring to a quick simmer, spooning the sauce over the meat until the meat is browned and glazed, about 5 minutes.
Serve over jasmine rice.
WOK-FRIED SPAGHETTI WITH KALE AND SAMBAL
4 tbsp canola or peanut oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp sambal ulek (or cili boh)
1/4 cabbage, finely chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
225g fried tofu, thinly sliced
450g spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sweet soy sauce
2 large eggs, beaten
Heat a wok or a large deep skillet over medium heat for 40 seconds. Add the oil around the perimetre of the wok so that it coats the sides and bottom. When the surface shimmers slightly, add the garlic and shallots and fry until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the sambal ulek and fry for another 30 seconds until the mixture is fragrant and the oil appears on the surface. Add cabbage, kale and tofu, and fry for 1 minute until the vegetables are slightly wilted.
Now add the cooked spaghetti and toss well to combine with the vegetables; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce and sweet soy sauce and continue to mix well.
Now push the noodles to one side of the pan, add the beaten eggs to create a thin layer and immediately bring the noodles over the egg. Do not stir or mix at this point, allow the egg underneath to set and cook for at least 30 seconds undisturbed.
Raise the heat to medium high, then gently lift the noodles and stir-fry the mixture until the eggs are fully cooked, about 2 minutes. The noodles will no longer appear wet from the eggs when cooked. Continue to stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, then taste, and adjust with sweet soy sauce if needed. Remove from the heat. Serve immediately.