Here are a few recipes from the cookbook Our Malaysian Kitchen by Marina Mustafa and Chong Woon Lee. (Click the link for their story.)

Marinated fish in banana leaf


Serves 3

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2.5cm turmeric root
3 red chillies
5 bird’s eye chillies
1 whole coconut, grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 turmeric leaf, sliced
3 Indian mackerel, gutted and cleaned
banana leaves
3 calamansi limes

Blend the onion, garlic, turmeric root and both chillies. Pour the blended ingredients into a pan. Add the grated coconut and stir. Season with salt and sugar. Cook until the ingredients begin to thicken and dry up.

Sprinkle the sliced turmeric leaves and mix. When the filling cools, pack it in the fishes’ cavities. Wrap the banana leaves around the fish and grill for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Squeeze the juice of calamansi limes over the top when serving.

Salted Egg Yolk Pau


Serves 8 to 10


4 salted egg yolks
4½ tbsp unsalted butter, softened
5 tbsp fine sugar
3 tbsp thick coconut milk
1 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp custard powder
4 tbsp milk powder
a pinch of salt

2/3 cup pau flour
1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp instant yeast
2½ cups pau flour
1/3 cup fine sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tbsp oil
1/2 cup warm water

To make filling

Steam the egg yolks for 10 minutes. Mash them while they are still warm, then set aside to cool. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the rest of the ingredients for the filling. Mix until smooth. Push the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.

Spoon a tablespoon of filling into each cavity of silicone ice-cube trays. If you are using regular plastic trays, lightly brush the cavities with oil before spooning in the filling. Freeze for at least 4 hours before use.

To make the dough

Mix together the pau flour, warm water and instant yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, sieve the 2 1/2 cups pau flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together. Add in the yeast mixture and mix until a rough dough forms. Add the oil and water. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. If the dough is too wet, add a bit of flour; if too dry, add a bit of water.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until double in size, about 60-90 minutes. Gently release the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and roughly shape into balls. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap.

Remove the filling from the freezer and pop them out from the ice cube trays. Roll out each dough ball, keeping the centre thicker and the edges thinner. Keep the unused dough balls covered while you work. Place a filling in the centre and wrap the edges around it. Pinch tightly to seal. Place the pau, sealed side down, on a square of baking paper. Repeat until all the dough balls and fillings are used up. If the filling starts to melt, pop them back into the freezer for a few minutes to harden. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Steam the pau on medium-low heat for 9 minutes. Do not steam on high heat or oversteam as the filling will ooze out.

Chicken in Soya Sauce


1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
2.5cm ginger
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamoms
4 cloves
1 star anise
4 pieces chicken
2 cups water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup sweet soy sauce
2 potatoes, quartered
1 tomato, quartered
2 red chillies, halved lengthwise
2 large onions, sliced into thick rings
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp crispy fried shallots, for garnish

To cook

Blend onion, garlic and ginger until smooth. Heat the oil in a pot and put in the cinnamon stick, cardamoms, cloves and star anise. Then add blended ingredients and sauté until fragrant. Put in the chicken pieces and sear them for about a minute.

Pour in the water, tomato paste and soy sauce, then add the potatoes. When the liquid begins to boil, add the tomato, red chillies and onion rings. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through.

Sprinkle with crispy fried shallots and serve with white rice.

Tapioca shoots in coconut milk


Serves 4 to 6

5 small red onions
4 cloves garlic
2.5cm turmeric root
5 bird’s eye chillies
1½ cups water
2 tbsp anchovies, soaked
20 stalks tapioca shoots, plucked, boiled and drained
2 cups thick coconut milk
1½ tsp salt

To cook

Blend onions, garlic, turmeric root and bird’s eye chillies.

Boil the water in a pot with the anchovies and blended ingredients. Once the water boils, add the boiled tapioca shoots and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in the thick coconut milk and season. Simmer over low heat for 5 more minutes. Serve with hot rice.