Malaysians love their food – it’s our national past time. Penangites? We swear by it. So much so that we go to great lengths just to savour some of our local favourites.
It is no doubt that Penang is Malaysia’s food paradise. People from near and far flock to this tiny island for “makan trips” (food trips) all the time. The best food are found on the streets, hawker centres or traditional coffee shops where locals (normally the elder generation) whip up the real deal.
Many would “tapao” (takeaway) packs of Penang food in the dozens, deep-freeze them and bring home. Even those who live overseas do this and chuck them in their luggage. As airport controls get tighter these days, it might be tricky to “smuggle” all these goodness back eh? Or if you’re too lazy to drive up north, don’t settle for stalls that claim they’re selling Penang food. Most of the time, they’re fake wannabes! I gave up trying to find authentic Penang food in KL. Sigh.
But fear not! You can now make some Penang delicacies at home with a selection of ready-to-cook paste brought to you by Talentcook. Homegrown in Penang itself, Talentcook is the brainchild of my cousin (beams with pride) who wants to make it easy for anyone to cook Penang food anytime, anywhere! In the process of getting the recipe right, her family became guinea pigs who had to down hundreds of bowls of noodles until she perfected it! Funny, but I’m really happy for her since this is one of the best paste in the market.
All I can say is… if you love all things yummy, you’ll definitely love what Talentcook has to offer. And I say this with confidence because I have personally tried cooking using these!
This is the paste for THE Penang Asam Laksa which was recently ranked 7th in the world, according to an international food survey by CNN. Asam Laksa is made with mackerel (ikan kembung) soup and its main distinguishing feature is the asam or tamarind which gives the soup a sour taste. The fish is poached and then flaked. Other ingredients that give Penang Asam Laksa its distinctive flavour include lemongrass, galangal and chilli. Typical garnishes include mint, pineapple slices, thinly sliced onion, he-ko ( a thick sweet prawn paste) and use of torch ginger flower.
With Laksoup, all you have to do is prepare the garnishing, noodles, fish, boil the soup and you’re good to go!
I recently made Laksa for a couple of Malaysians while I was visiting my Godsis in Macau. I was very lucky to find some of the basic ingredients needed (as shown in pic above). Typically, we will use mackerel but I substituted with tuna fish instead as that was the only thing I could find. I steamed the fish and flaked them after they were cooked. As for the other garnishing, I all I had to do was chop ’em up. Easy! Laksa will not be complete without the Penang prawn paste (made from fermented ground shrimp) – just add a spoonful!
2) Lak Special
Inspired by the original Asam Laksa, this is a paste in which you can make anything you want – as far as your imagination can take you – while still giving you that Laksa oomph!
You can use Lak Special as a base for fried noodles or use it to marinate seafood. I marinated some prawns and squid with the paste, then deep-fried them. Yummy! Everyone was wondering what flavour it was. No pics coz we were too excited munching away…
3) Hokkien Mee
This is another all-time Penang favourite – a dish of egg noodles and rice noodles served in broth made from both fresh and dried shrimp. When in Penang, this is called Hokkien Mee but out of the state, it is commonly known as Har Mee (Prawn Mee).
Preparing Hokkien Mee from scratch is an arduous job. You need lots and lots and lots and lots of shrimp to make the broth really really tasty. With this paste, it saves you all the trouble and ensures that your soup will be perfect by just adding water and boiling it. Voila! My bowl of Hokkien Mee had rice noodles, shrimp, water spinach, hard-boiled eggs, shredded chicken and fried onions to top it off.
4) Curry Mee
Malaysians also love curry. The more “lemak” the better! “Lemak” refers to the amount of coconut milk in the curry. And Curry Mee is no exception! I have yet to make this, but is also as simple to prepare as the rest.
My verdict on all these paste – They’re really good! Half of your work is done since you don’t have to make the soup from scratch. Just pop in a pack or two, add water and boil! All you have to really do is prepare the garnishing. There are no hard rules on what you put in. By all means, just drink the soup if that itself is enough to make you happy Full instructions are available on all packs in English, Chinese and Malay. There are even suggestions on how you can use the paste and what to put in as garnishing. Very very user-friendly.
You can find out more about Talentcook on their website or check out their Facebook page. Their products are now available all over Malaysia and even in Singapore. For online shoppers, you can place an order and have them delivered to you. How about getting some for yourself now?