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“A Taste of Malaysia; Ayam Paprik”

17 ingredients 5 minutes

Words by: Leesha Haneef

Illustrations by: Fathmath Azleena

Malaysia, situated in South-East Asia, is a multi-cultural country consisting mainly of Malays, Chinese and Indian ethnicity along with their indigenous ethnic groups such as the Orang Asli, the Kadazan and Iban people. The country also consists of non-Malay ethnic groups of Thais, Khmers, and Chams.

Malaysian cuisine is well-known for its vibrant and rich flavors derived from its multi-cultural people. Their food is predominantly influenced by Indonesian, Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine. These influences extend from preparation methods, cooking techniques, use of wok to the combinations of spices used to complement their dishes. Historically, Malaysia was part of the incredibly successful spice trade, recording back to the 15th Century.

Malaysian food is generally considered as spicy, even though it’s not always flaming hot. Similar to most parts of Asia, rice is an essential staple food. Varieties of Thai and Basmati rice are widely served along with their dishes. As the majority of the Malaysian population are of Muslim faith, Halal ingredients are widely used in their cuisine. Some of the most classical Malay dishes include Nasi Lemak, Laksa, Nasi Goreng, Satay, and Rendang. Today, Malay cuisine is available in most parts of the World.

The main characteristics of traditional Malay cuisine are doubtfully their generous use of spices. Coconut milk is an essential item in their pantry, which plays an important role in providing Malay dishes their rich, creamy texture. Another foundation of Malay food is “belacan” (Shrimp Paste), which is mostly used as a base for sambal. Their sambal is a widely served condiment made from belacan, chili peppers, onions, and garlic. The use of soy sauce and noodles are clearly influences from Chinese cuisine. The northern part of Peninsular Malaysia uses lemongrass, kafir lemon leaves, ginger, and galangal as part of their dishes displaying a close resemblance to their neighbor, Thailand.

Malaysian desserts are colorful, creative and delicious which includes layered rice flour and coconut sweets, multi-layered butter cake known as Lipas Legit and sweet coconut rice balls. A popular dessert is Kueh Bahulu, a mini sponge cake dipped in black coffee.

For the readers of Taste Magazine, we have chosen Ayam Paprik, a delightful, easy to make Malay dish which could enhance your at-home dining experiences. “Ayam” is chicken in Malay and the Thai phrase Pad Prik refers to “Pad” meaning stirfry and “Prik” means Chili. Although today the dish is regarded as part of Malay cuisine, it is from Thai origins.

Ayam Paprik (Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry)

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 8 oz chicken breast, sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 onion, cut into pieces
  • 2 oz baby corn, sliced
  • 2 oz broccoli
  • 2 oz mushroom
  • 1/2 small carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 green bell pepper (capsicum), deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red bell pepper or 1 red chili, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 bird’s eyes chilies, lightly pounded, optional
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp Thai chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • lemongrass, crushed
  • kaffir lemon leaves
  • salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat up a wok on high heat and add the oil.

  2. Add the garlic into the wok and stir-fry until aromatic, followed by the kaffir lemon leaves and lemongrass.

  3. Add the chicken and quickly stir fry, until the chicken is half cooked.

  4. Add the rest of vegetables and stirfry to combine well with the chicken.

  5. Add the oyster sauce and Thai chili sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to blend well. (If you want your chicken to be a little saucy, you can add ½ cup water now.)

  6. Cook for 3 minutes and serve the dish with white rice.

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