The world is changing at a rapid pace and because of globalisation, the introduction of modern technology and our diverse lifestyles, the foods that we consume on a daily basis have also changed dramatically. To further delve into this, Associate Professor Dr Khoo Gaik Cheng of the School of Media, Languages and Cultures at the University of Nottingham Malaysia has embarked on a research paper that aims to define modern Malaysian cuisine.
Malaysia’s melting pot of ethnicities has resulted in a cuisine that is unique to the region. Traditionally, Malaysian cuisine consists of Malay, Indian, Chinese, Peranakan and Eurasian cooking – all known for their rich and bold flavours. Over the years, and due to cultural amalgamation, new types of dishes have formed – a result of the marriage of two or more cultural influences. These days we even see newer and interesting inventions like salted egg yolk croissants, nasi lemak sushi and teh tarik ice-cream, to name a few.
In her research, Dr Khoo seeks to understand what modern Malaysian cuisine is. In the course of her work, she interviews food bloggers, and local proponent of modern Malaysian cuisine, chef Darren Teoh, who has elevated Malaysian cuisine and local ingredients through French cooking techniques and modern cooking methods like molecular gastronomy. Malaysia is well-known globally for its humble street food but modern Malaysian cuisine is generally and arguably understood to be fine dining. What does the future hold for modern Malaysian cuisine? Dr Khoo aims to answer these pertinent questions during the course of her research.
“I think that possibly the toughest challenge for modern Malaysian cuisine is the colonised mindset of Malaysians who will unquestioningly fork out a lot of money for a fine dining restaurant selling wagyu beef, European cuisine and imported ingredients but are hesitant to pay more for the art and creativity that goes into transforming local ingredients into different configurations of familiar tastes. I hope that chefs like Darren Teoh and Raymond Tham can convince them otherwise, ” Dr Gaik said.
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Food Series of 5 events featured chefs Darren Teoh of Dewakan and Raymond Tham of Beta on Chefs Table, the final session of the series on April 13.
University of Nottingham Malaysia Food Series
The series of events explored Forgotten and Future Foods to engage directly with the public on topics exploring the current and future trends of food from farm to table. The events were organised across three distinct themes (Foraging, Farming and Table) and include a food study tour to an Orang Asli Kampung, panel discussions and presentations on foraging and edible weeds, the effects of aquaculture on the environment, and a film screening. It culminates with a discussion about the use of local ingredients with two chefs specialising in modern Malaysian cuisine.
(Image caption: Dr Khoo (front row, in red) and Chef Darren Teoh (front row, sixth from left) and Maysoun Mustafa (front row, extreme right). Also seen is Professor Festo Massawe of the School of Biosciences (back row, second from right).
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Posted on 16th April 2019