Malaysian Food Cooking Recipes - Different Types of Cooking Methods and Techniques

Malaysian Food Cooking Recipes - Different Types of Cooking Methods and Techniques

Malaysian cooks use a wide range of cooking methods - shallow and deep frying, stir frying, braising, boiling, steaming and grilling over charcoal or under a grill.

It's essential to know how to prepare the rempah or basic seasoning paste required for many dishes. Before beginning, all the ingredients should be finely chopped. The principle is to grind or blend the toughest ingredients first, adding softer and wetter ingredients towards the end. Whether using a mortar and pestle, a blender or food processor, the order is the same. First grind any dried spices or nuts until fine, then add hard ingredients such as lemon grass, and galangal (already sliced or chopped in small pieces). Pound or process until fine then add softer rhizomes such as fresh turmeric and ginger, soaked dried chilies and sliced fresh chilies. When these are fine, add the ingredients that are full of moisture, such as chopped shallots and garlic, as well as soft shrimp paste.

If you are using a food processor or blender, you will probably need to add just a little liquid to keep the blades turning. If the rempah is to be fried, add a little of the specified amount of cooking oil, while if it is to be cooked in coconut milk, add some of this. While processing, you will probably need to stop the machine frequently to scrape down the sides. Continue until you have a fine paste.

Some cooks add water rather than the cooking medium to the blender; this means that the rempah will need to be cooked for a longer period of time before adding the other ingredients, to allow the water to evaporate and the rempah to eventually fry rather than just stew.

The spice paste is generally gently fried before any other liquid is added. Malaysian cooks will tell you to cook the rempah until it smells fragrant or until the oil comes out, both accurate descriptions of what happens after 3-5 minutes of frying over gentle heat, stirring frequently. The spice paste must be thoroughly cooked at this stage or the resulting dish will have a raw taste to it.

Coconut milk is often added to the basic spice paste, generally in two stages. The thinner coconut milk is added, a little at a time, to the cooked spice paste, (often after pieces of meat or chicken have also been browned) and is stirred frequently, lifted with a ladle and poured back into the pan, until it comes to the boil. This process ensures the coconut milk does not curdle. The coconut gravy is then simmered gently, with the pan uncovered. The thick coconut milk or cream is added just before serving, heated through but not boiled, to enrich and thicken the gravy or sauce.

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