As a home cook with no professional culinary training, the idea of working side by side with a chef, a real chef, has long piqued my interest.
As a TV fan of “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef,” I am envious of the crew’s ability to help the chef produce a slew of delicious dishes despite the frenetic pace and often chaotic kitchen activities.
When you cook with a chef, what is it like?
Inquisitiveness is a constant companion of mine.
After being invited to cook at Chef Robert Danhi’s test kitchen in Los Angeles for his book, I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t turn it down because of the CIA-trained chef and educator and the professional test kitchen.
We opted to create a few popular Malaysian dishes, such as chicken satay with peanut sauce, ketupat (compressed rice cakes), char kuey teow, chili crab, sambal long beans, and ondeh-ondeh, after reading the “Southeast Asian Flavors” cookbook.
My mother’s chili crab and Penang Char Kuey Teow were delicious.
Cooking in front of Chef Danhi was a little nerve-wracking for me, but I think I did a good job. Everything turned out perfectly, from the spicy crab to the char kuey teow.
As for dessert, Chef Danhi served ondeh-ondeh, rice balls scented with pandan and sweetened with gula Melaka, a traditional Malaysian palm sugar. Dinner ended on a nice note, thanks to the ondeh-ondeh.
Personally, I’m thrilled that more and more American cooks are interested in learning about Malaysian cuisine, which is, after all, Asia’s final unexplored frontier.
It is possible that Malaysian cuisine will become more popular in the United States if more cookbooks such as Southeast Asian Flavors and Cradle of Flavor are available in the market and a greater understanding of Malaysian cuisine.
And in terms of both general tourism and culinary tourism, Malaysia’s Tourism Malaysia cannot afford to neglect or continue to overlook the US market; the US should be a priority 1 market for investment and growth!