Posted: 1 Nov 2012

Poh’s top five
Malaysian ingredients

Her bright smiley face was the shining light in the MasterChef kitchen three years ago, launching Poh Ling Yeow to national fame. Now she appears every Tuesday night on ABC TV in Poh’s Kitchen, and acts as ambassador for the Malaysia Kitchen campaign, encouraging people to try local Malaysian restaurants. Find them at Taste of Melbourne from November 15-18.

Poh also wants to see more people cooking Malaysian food at home, so here are her top five Malaysian ingredients:

1. Dried Shrimp

This is a fantastic pantry basic available in Asian grocers which, in small amounts, lends a wonderful intense prawn flavour and seasoning to both cooked dishes and a light protein hit in salads. I love this ingredient also for the reason that it harks back to a really old-fashioned, humble way of eating.

2. Pandan

Pandan infuses a jasmine-like intensity to sweet and savoury dishes. Found in Asian grocers, the fresh leaves will add a beautiful fragrance to curries and bottled pandan paste wonderfully convenient for sticky rice desserts.

3. Galangal

Available in Asian grocers and sometimes in supermarkets, galangal is a rhizome related to ginger. When mature, it has a wonderful perfume, lovely in curries with a sour note. It pairs very well with lemongrass but needs to be pounded or blitzed because of its woody texture.

4. Belacan

Belacan is notorious for being a challenge to the olfactory but it’s an indispensable part of Malaysian cuisine. It is a fermented, dried, shrimp paste which adds a beguiling depth to the seasoning of curries, stir fries, chilli pastes and Malaysian style salads.

5. Tamarind Paste

Easily found in supermarkets, tamarind paste has a similar effect to that of tomatoes in western cookery. Its fruity, sour characteristic is brilliant for adding acidity to a dish, great in a salad dressing, for lifting and refreshing a rich curry sauce or a marinade for meats like pork and prawns

For more tips and recipes from Poh, visit Malaysia Kitchen.

MasterChef finalist Poh Ling Yeow



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