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Stir The Pot: 3 Malaysian chefs dish out tips, songs and recipes to help you master home cooking

Stir The Pot: 3 Malaysian chefs dish out tips, songs and recipes to help you master home cooking

Spill the beans

Text: Kelly Lim


Image: Getty Images
Image: Mark Weinberg

Chef Johnson Wong, Chef Ili Sulaiman and Chef Daniel Yap share foolproof tips and easy recipes for you to try at home.

Whether the MCO period has turned you into a delivery devotee or forced your hand into cookery, everyone should at least know their way around the home kitchen.

We reached out to three Malaysian chefs who are killing it in the local scene and asked them to share some of their top tips, tunes and recipes to inspire your inner cook. 

Chef Ili Sulaiman

Ili Sulaiman cut her teeth at one of London's most prestigious fine-dining restaurants, Mosimann, before returning to Malaysia and starting Dish by Ili, a passion project turned home-cooked catering business and platform. The food entrepreneur is also a cooking host on the Asian Food Channel and co-founder of Agak Agak, a social enterprise that helps mentor and teach culinary skills to the underprivileged so that they can launch their own career.

Her top 3 songs to cook to...

"Morning Dew by Matt Quentin, Special Night by Lee Fields & The Expressions and Do Me Like That by E. Live"

The one ingredient she can't live without...

"Garlic!"

Her favourite dish to cook at home...

"Pasta—all kinds of pasta: creamy, oil based, tomato based, ragu."

One dish every home cook should try mastering...

"An ingredient I feel all Malaysians should know how to cook properly is rice. If you're going for a dish, I would say one good sambal. Whether it's sambal tumis, sambal belacan, belado, etc."

On foolproof kitchen tips...

"Invest in good kitchen pots and pans and kitchenware that will last you at least 10 years and longer. It's an investment that pays off."

Her last meal would be... 

"Coconut water, perfectly cooked white rice, fresh fished grilled to perfection, the best sambal in the world, kicap manis, a sunny side up egg (over easy) and a hug plate of garlic kailan."

One easy recipe to try at home...

Steam Fish Tiga Rasa 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium-sized sea bass 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 inches of ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 bird's eye chilli, chopped finely
  • 3 medium-sized limes, rolled and squeezed for juice
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Method:

1. In a bowl, mix all the chopped ingredients together with lime rinds and sugar.

2. Separately rub salt all over the fish and inside the cavities of the fish.

3. Finally, rub the chopped ingredient mix all over the fish and steam.

Chef Daniel Yap, Gooddam

Co-founder and head chef at Gooddam, a locally-driven, Italian-inspired restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Chef Daniel Yap follows a philosophy of simplicity in his cooking to push boundaries and share his love for Italian culture and cuisine.  

His top 3 songs to cook to...

"Stop The Clock by Peter Marsh, We Are by HAEVN, Rather Be by Clean Bandit."

One ingredient he can't live without...

"Gula Melaka."

His favourite dish to cook at home...

"Seafood Marinara, a buttery seafood stew that goes so well with bread, rice or pasta!"

One dish every home cook should try mastering...

"Fried chicken; there are a ton of versions so you can try to create one of your own."

On foolproof kitchen tips... 

"Keep kaffir lime leave in the freezer to prevent oxidization and longer shelf life."

His last meal would be...

"My grandmother's Nasi Lemak."

One easy recipe to follow at home...

Seafood Marinara

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pieces of prawn, cleaned & de-shelled
  • 1 over-ripen tomato
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 35g parsley, chopped finely
  • 30g butter

Method:

1. In a heated pan with 2 tablespoons of corn oil, sear the prawns on each side for one minute and lightly season with salt. Transfer the half-cooked prawns to a plate.

2. In the same pan, saute garlic and tomato with oil for two minutes over medium heat.

3. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or just water. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the prawns back in the pan to continue cooking for one to two minutes over medium heat.

5. Finish off with parsley and butter to create a buttery sauce before it's ready to serve!

6. Squeeze a wedge of lemon and eat it with garlic butter bread roll or just plain hot rice! 

Chef Johnson Wong, gēn 根 Penang

A graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Sydney, Chef Johnson Wong is the head chef and founder at gēn 根, a communal-style modern Malaysian restaurant focused on local ingredients in the heart of Penang.

His top 3 songs to cook to...

"Chef Johnson doesn't have the habit of listening to songs while cooking."

The one ingredient he can't live without...

"Ginger flower plays an important role in our house and culture, hence we often highlight this ingredient in the restaurant."

His favourite dish to cook at home?

"French fries."

One dish every home cook should try mastering...

"Cooking eggs."

On foolproof kitchen tips...

"To keep tasting your food as you cook."

His last meal would be...

"A bowl of good fried rice would satisfy my craving for my last meal."

One easy recipe to follow at home... 

Salt-baked Herbal Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (tip: use kampung chicken or free-range chicken to get a better texture of the meat)
  • 20g fine salt
  • 20g Chinese Angelica slices
  • 2kg rock salt

Method:

1. Wash the chicken and dry it out with paper napkin.

2. Rub the chicken with fine salt and Angelica slices.

3. Wrap the chicken in parchment paper and leave in the chiller to marinate overnight.

4. Toss the rock salt in a pan till hot.

5. Put the chicken in and cover with the rock salt. Cook for an hour with medium heat and turn the chicken to the other side to cook for another 30 minutes.

Tip: Add a thicker layer of rock salt at the bottom of the chicken to prevent the parchment paper from burning when cooking.

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