Raw Chef Yin wants to craft the future of raw food in Malaysia! Hmmm, is that a big, hairy, audacious goal? Because I’ve decided that’s what I want to focus on in Two-Oh-One-Six.
There was a time when imported products were lauded in Malaysia. Even till now, my favourite elderly Chinese fruit stall owner, Uncle Sam, at Taman Tun Dr Ismail will urge me:
“Hello Yin! Today ah, this peach very good. From Spain one.”
And my response would be:
“Uncle, I want local fruits lah. Got or not?”
He’ll scratch his head, look around and reply:
“You want local ah...uhm..hmm...melon lor...papaya lor...banana, want or not?”
And I’d gladly buy some papayas and bananas.
The raw food movement is not only about not heating up food beyond 45 degrees Celcius, but it’s also about using ingredients that are fresh, local and seasonal, as much as is possible.
Let’s make more trips to the Pasar Tani (farmer’s market) to get our supply of ulam. There’s a fantastic Pasar Tani in Kelana Jaya near Unitar International on Saturday mornings if you can wake up early enough. Or head out to the Pasar Besar Taman Tun Dr Ismail and look out for a stall called “Sayur Kampung” which has an excellent selection of local fruits and vegetables. That one is still open at eleven in the morning if you’re not an early bird. Maybe we can talk to our grandparents and discover the various medicinal properties of our local herbs before the information is lost. The Kinokuniya bookshop has a pretty good selection of books on herbs and edible leaves in Malaysia too.
This year I’ve started studying more about the local herbs and edible leaves that are found in abundance in Malaysia and have been eagerly including them in my raw food recipes.
There are loads of raw food recipes online for zucchini noodles or almond milk or (yum) chocolate pudding. But how many of you have actually had Raw Ciku Pudding with Dragon Fruit Coulis, Raw Mango Dressing or Raw Vegan Bunga Telang Ice Cream?
One of the recipes that every Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy alumni would know of is the Zucchini Tartare. The combination of zucchini, avocado, basil, chives, lemon juice, olive oil and freshly ground pepper transforms into an incredible elegant raw appetiser when it’s beautifully presented. In fact, it was something I made frequently even before I signed up at the academy as I found a video of the recipe online. However, it is mango season now… so what if I created a Raw Vegan Mango Tartare instead, using our unique Malaysian ingredients?
Let’s use a Malaysian mango, instead of the usual zucchini. How about squeezing some limau kasturi (calamansi lime), instead of lemon juice? Good old coconut oil, to replace olive oil. Gula melaka would be an excellent substitute for agave. And I had a big bunch of Ulam Raja (Cosmos caudatus) from the local Farmer’s Market that would go nicely as well instead of basil and chives. And to make it truly Malaysian, I used Bario salt from East Malaysia.
Oh wait, how can we Malaysians go without our chilli? I remember bringing packets of dried chilli flakes whenever I travelled to the US for work as the food was usually so bland. To the horror of my Singaporean and Australian bosses, I would fish out a packet of dried chilli flakes from my handbag and proceed to garnish whatever meal was eating whether I was in Las Vegas, Santa Monica or New York. The tiny dots of red would magically transform an insipid dish into a palatable one. But I digress. Freshly cut red chilli AND dried red chilli flakes would definite add some heat, fire and spice to my raw food creation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Raw Chef Yin’s Spicy Malaysian Mango Tartare with Ulam Raja! Noms.
We live in a tropical country which is so rich in nature, with plenty of sun and loads of rain. We are so blessed to have fresh vegetables and fruits all year round and I want to tap these local resources and hopefully inspire others to have a real appreciation for our wonderful, local produce. Together, let’s encourage one another to recognise the value of local ingredients rather than relying on imported ones.
I invite you to join me in crafting the future of raw food in Malaysia and let’s go local together on this raw food journey!