Malaysian Sauce Guide
Malaysian Sauce Guide

The Malaysian cook is never far from a plate of cooking sauces to add to stir-fries, soups, stews, and braised one-pot dishes as needed. Here are a few of the important ones.

It is used to add the element of saltiness required in several Southeast Asian dishes. Fish sauce is made of fish too small to be eaten and frequently taken in the nets of large catches. The fish are placed in huge containers and covered with a mass amount of sea salt (roughly 40 percent of the weight), which tastes and keeps the fish. The resulting highly concentrated sauce is filtered several times, strained, and salty to the market. Fish sauce can be purchased in many ranges, and there are many fine brands available at Asian markets. My personal favorite is that the brand named Golden Boy. It’s a high quality, transparent golden-brown liquid with a sheen which has a pleasant odor and tastes great in your food.
It’s a dark, grated soy sauce, sweetened with palm sugarwith a distinct molasses-like taste and honey-like consistency. Malaysian and Indonesian brands will even add star anise and garlic for an enticing sweet-salty taste. If you cannot locate bottles of kicap manis, adding brown sugar to ordinary soy sauce will get near the taste. A top notch brand is ABC Kecap Manis, that can be sold in dark bottles in most Asian grocery shops.

Oyster sauce

The sauce is a combination of oysters, salt, sugar, wheat flour, cornstarch, caramel, and filtered water that is boiled till thickened. The sauce is filtered several times, bottled while still hot, and vacuum packaged. Use it to instantly add flavor when stir-frying veggies, meat, or noodles.
Then, ground wheat, salt, and civilizations are added. The mixture is filtered, pasteurized, and salty as soy sauce. What does not turn to sauce is sold in the market as salted beans or yellow bean sauce. There are many varieties of soy sauce, based on where it is made: Japanese soy sauce is slightly sweeter with a rounder taste. Chinese soy sauce is saltier and thicker, whereas Hawaiian shoyu sauce carries a smooth and simple flavor using a low acidity. All soy sauces come in a light or dark selection. There are various kinds of soy sauces in the market and trying new ones can be enjoyable. Some are made with added roasted rice, many others with mushrooms; and some are dark and concentrated to add sweetness and also to assist caramelize a dish. Make certain that you look at the ingredients to see which you’re getting the authentic fermented sauce of noodles using non-GMO legumes rather than a compound imitation.

Malaysian Sauce Guide
Malaysian Sauce Guide

This plant, native to the Mediterranean, is in precisely the same household as anise, carrots, cumin, and celery. Coriander seeds were brought to Southeast Asia from Indian spice traders and soon they became part of local cuisine. The dried seeds are called coriander, although the leaves are often called by the Spanish title cilantro. Coriander, both seeds and leaves, is highly nutritious. The seeds are full of calcium and beta-carotene along with the leaves include vitamins A, C, and K.
Cilantro If you get it fresh, the roots can be washed and used too, and in fact have the greatest concentration of taste. But if the roots are inaccessible, you may use the stalks instead. The leaves have been used for flavoring curries and soups, in salads, and for making chutney. When using cilantro, remember to stir it in at the finish. If you’re going to store cilantro from the refrigerator, make sure you shake off excess water. Set the cilantro on a newspaper tower and lightly pat dry, and then wrap into a fresh paper towel. Cilantro stems and roots will freeze nicely in airtight bags for 3 weeks. Cilantro pairs nicely with mint leaves.
Coriander seeds They also have a particular, orange-lime aroma. To prepare curries at home, add a few coriander seeds into warm oil before cooking the rest of the ingredients to release its hot, spicy-aromatic sweet taste. Coriander pairs well with black peppercorns and if mixed with salt makes an superb spice rub for meat dishes.


Cumin seeds originated from Egypt and later found their way around the planet through the spice route. The seed is the dried fruit of a small slender annual herb that, such as coriander, is in the exact same family as anise, carrots, and celery. The seeds are brown and have a strong, spicy-sweet odor with a slightly bitter taste. Cumin closely resembles fennel, although the tiniest seeds are somewhat larger, lighter in appearance, and with the anise-like flavor. Cumin seeds are part of the distinctive flavor of chili con carne and many Malaysian curries, and form the basis of commercial chili powder.
Cumin is most commonly sold already ground in major supermarkets however it is possible to discover the seeds in most Indian grocery shops. If you buy the whole seeds, then you may use them whole or grind them yourself.
To use the whole seeds, lightly toast them in a dry pan to release the scents, bring out a nutty flavor, and remove the slightly bitter flavor they have when raw. The toasted seeds may be added to soups, lentils, curries, and savory rice dishes. Cumin is often paired with coriander and also goes well with garlic and seafood dishes.


Virtually every Malaysian Indian home includes a curry leaf tree in its yard. The tree is in the exact same household as citrus crops, but other than the form of the leaves, these trees look completely different. Known as daun kari in Malaysia, the leaves have a distinctive fragrance like anise. Malaysian Indians use the leaves for making curry powders, chutneys, and pickles; the name of the curry spice mix stems in using those leaves.
If you walk along the residential areas beyond the city, you may notice stripped stems hanging from the curry leaf trees. This is becausein Malaysia, we pluck them directly from the tree before using and therefore they’re never stored in the fridge.
It is possible to purchase fresh curry leaves packaged in plastic bags in most Indian or Southeast Asian grocery shops. Frozen leaves can also be accessible, however I do not advise using them because the leaves turn black and lose their aroma shortly after defrosting. Wrap curry leaves in cheesecloth or a kitchen towel and they will keep for as many as two weeks in the refrigerator. For longer storage, then I lightly fry the leaves in a small warm soapy or olive oil then store both the leaves and oil in an airtight container at room temperature for around a month. In this manner, the oil is already experienced with the flavor of curry leaf and is yummy even as a salad dressing or in pesto. When cooking, particularly for curries, the tastes of the new leaves are maximized by frying them in oil with all the other spices until the major ingredient is inserted. They match well with potatoes, fish, and meat dishes.


Malaysian Sauce Guide
Malaysian Sauce Guide

Originating from the Mediterranean, fennel (like coriander and cumin) is in the exact same household as celery, carrots, and anise. In Europe, the whole plant is used as an herb and vegetable, but in Southeast Asian cooking, just the seeds are used. In Indian traditions, it’s seen as a sacred herb. The hay-like plant can be hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits and is thought to keep young people strong and healthy.
The fennel seeds are grayish-green in colour and have a sweet, mellow taste similar to anise seed. They complement seafood particularly well: Take a teaspoon of crushed or whole seeds, then add them to warm oil, and allow them to sizzle before adding the fish. Alternatively, you might pound the fennel seeds to powder, add some sea salt, and then use as a spice rub for fish. Buying whole fennel seeds is worth that effort, because the earth fennel you find in the shops is much less sweet and aromatic than the whole seeds.


The seeds are small, tough, and yellowish brown. In Southeast Asia, the dried seeds are utilized mainly to taste seafood curries and in lentil soups and to create seasonings for pickles and chutneys. When using it, be certain not to add a lot of –start with 10 to 15 seedsas it could overpower the flavors of other spices. Fenugreek seeds have a strong aroma and slightly sour, nutty taste.


Galangal, the aromatic component popular in restaurants across Asia, tends to get lumped in with ginger. This makes sense: They’re closely associated (galangal is sometimes known as blue ginger), both are rhizomes (knobby, underground stems that sprout roots and shoots), and have been believed to have medicinal properties. However, they are wildly different. Though galangal and ginger discuss some similarities–a pungent umami taste and slight tang–galangal is mild where ginger is hot and its culinary objective is actually the reverse of ginger. The purpose of galangal is to perfume the meals and bring delicateness into the dish, imparting a rich odor somewhat like roses, lime, and honey, instead of adding assertive tangy warmth. Like ginger, galangal contains enzymes which help tenderize meat, which is why it is a popular addition to marinades.
Galangal can easily be found in Asian markets from the United States but it tends to be on the older side. Young galangal is simpler to slice, laden with aromatic oils, and colored in pale shades of pink and golden; since the plant ages, it turns a dull beige and becomes more fibrous, making it hard to slice. Neither young nor mature galangal requires peeling before use. Older galangal also loses much of its prized oils, so you might need to use twice as much for the same effect. Plus, it tends to mold easily, so if your galangal appears black and spotted, toss it out.
You can even add a few thin slices of galangal to soups and stir-fries to get a beautiful added fragrance and texture. In Malaysia, new galangal and its flowers are cut into thin slices and served with a sambal as an appetizer.
Store galangal as you’d ginger, wrapped in a paper towel and saved in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. It can last for at least a week or up to 2 weeks, but be sure to test it for mold before using. You may also slit galangal and freeze it in airtight bags for 1 month. Slicing it first makes it effortless to remove the quantity you want without having to thaw the whole rhizome.


In English, we’ve begun to call all of them curry powders, but this is not strictly correct. Curry describes a combination of whole spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, coriander seeds, and chilies that is ground to a powder using curry leaf. Garam masala, on the other hand, does not include curry leaf; rather, it is a composite of hot spices (cinnamon, cumin seeds, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns) blended into a powder. Garam masala is added at the midpoint of cooking to add depth, or a dash at the end of the cooking to provide the food a punch. In this tradition, in case your disease requires warmth, garam masala in your food would help to treat it.


Garlic, originating from central Asia, belongs to the exact same family as onions and leeks, one of the first plants cultivated by humans. There are various varieties; in general, the smaller the bulb, the stronger the taste. Garlic that is sold at most Asian grocery stores is smaller, perhaps half of the size of the common varieties, together with purple streaks rather than pure white skins. However, any supermarket variety will work as well for cooking should you apply the exact same number of cloves.
This ought to provide you an idea of its importance. When stir-frying garlic, be sure that you fry until it’s golden brown, otherwise you will wind up with a raw garlic taste. In case you have time, it makes sense to peel a few heads at a time and keep the cloves in an airtight glass jar in the fridge. To speed up daily cooking preparation, I also mince enough fresh garlic for 3 days and store that in an airtight glass jar.


Malaysian Sauce Guide
Malaysian Sauce Guide

The rhizome known as ginger root, from precisely the same family as garlic and cardamom, is thought to be native to the Malay Archipelago.
In Malaysian cooking, the new root is used most commonly, even though it’s occasionally dried for storage or pickled. Young ginger, with a thin creamy colored skin with pink edges, may be eaten raw, pickled, or used in marinades. Mature ginger, on the other hand, is beige-brown with a thicker epidermis. It has a wonderfully sweet, hot, citrus-like aroma. While I call for fresh ginger, then utilize ginger. Before slicing or grating, peel off the skin with a potato peeler or paring knife, or use the edge of a spoon.

Ginger has a effective protein-digesting enzyme called zingibain, which makes it a natural meat tenderizer. It has also been studied for its anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When buying fresh ginger, select a knob which has a business, fresh, shiny, unwrinkled skin and scrutinize it for mold at the hints. Wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge, it is going to keep for up to ten days. For more storage (approximately 3 months), grind the ginger into a paste, place in a glass jar, and freeze.
External Asian cuisines, ginger is sold as a dried powder and used primarily in baking (gingerbread, biscuits, and so on). The ground ginger can also be added to curry masala mixes or spice rubs, although the taste is quite different in the aromatic glow of fresh ginger. Powdered dried ginger does not maintain its flavor for long, so don’t get too much at a time.


Beans, lentils, peas, and lots of other legumes are the very first plants ever cultivated by people, having been observed in 10,000-year-old archeological sites across the southern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. It is most commonly marketed as a yellow-colored split bean using the green strand eliminated. These split mung beans cook very fast and don’t have to be soaked first. The largest difference though between both is cooking occasions: When soaked in water to exactly the identical period of time, red lentils require approximately double the cooking period of yellowish. If you’re planning to eat foods with roti, you wish to be certain that they’re cooked to the point where every lentil keeps its shape and firmness. But if you are playing them with rice, cook the peas into a mushier point so they combine together with all the spices, beef, and vegetables.


Lemongrass is the title of possibly 50 species of a bud that develops naturally throughout Asia, Africa, and Australia. Some species, like citronella, are utilized to keep mosquitoes off. The principal species used in cooking has bulbs which, when smashed, discharge a lemony odor. Back in Malaysia, it is frequently planted in garden gardens and its own citrus-like odor is the key behind most spice pastes. The identifying lemon-like taste is most powerful in 6 inches of the foundation. While searching for new lemongrass, focus on the colour. The ends of these leaves ought to be a light green shade. Since the leaves turn into a light brown, the taste in the bottom starts to fade.
Lemongrass may be sliced and added to salads and stir-fries or bruised and sliced to be used in soups or shares, in addition to pounded along with other new seasonings to produce a spice paste for curry dishes. Wrap lemongrass in a paper towel and then keep it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for as many as two weeks. To freeze it, first grind it with a few water or slice it finely, then put into a container and freeze up to 3 weeks. To thaw the quantity you need, leave it outside in room temperature, then use what you require, then suspend the rest. It won’t turn rancid as long as you use a clean spoon every time. We include several leaves to to curry pastes, and julienne other leaves to use in sandwiches and stir-fry dishes. The leaves exude a delicate citrus-like odor and taste that’s unlike that of lemons or limes. Always remove the stem use; this allows the foliage to impart its odor and taste to the dish. It doesn’t include any juice however its zest releases an intense taste when grated and may be added to desserts.
You will discover makrut lime leaves at the produce section of Asian grocery shops, frequently beside the new chilies, or from plastic bags in the freezer department. It is possible to suspend them in a freezer bag for as many as two months.


Mustard seeds also have emerged at Sanskrit records dating as far back as 3000 BC In precisely the exact same family as cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy, there are 3 kinds of mustard plants that produce seeds: black walnut; light yellow or white walnut, that is indigenous to Europe; along with the tiny, dark haired mustard seeds broadly utilized in Asian cooking.
Mustard seeds possess a sexy and pungent flavor and are cooked in hot oil till they pop to attain a nice smoky and sweet taste. When frying the seeds, then it’s helpful to pay the skillet with a spatter display to maintain the mustard seeds out of leaping from the pan. If you would like to utilize them in chutneys and pickles, the seeds must be dry roasted and ground rather. The seeds may also be utilized in marinades for meat or fish: Grind roughly 1 tbsp mustard seeds into a powder and then combine with water to make a paste before adding it into your own forehead to get a sexy sharp flavor. For milder taste, blend the powder . Within the fruit is a nut coated with a glistening brown shell. The nut is known as freshwater, whereas the outer section of the shell is made up of red lacy net called mace. Nutmeg has a stronger odor and taste than mace, even though they’re usually used interchangeably.
Ground nutmeg lacks a number of these volatile oils that supply the comprehensive taste; if you can locate the entire nut, accessible grocery stores, it is going to keep well for quite a while and also you can grate it before using. Use it to earn spice paste, to taste beef dishes, and in desserts. You might even add a few new nutmegs (cracked or whole ) into a sugar bowl so the sugar takes on a beautiful nutmeg odor. Palm sugar is tough, red brown, and a bit moist, with a sweet, caramel-like taste. You can purchase it at most Asian grocery shops. It’s used to impart sweetness but also to calm the high level of spicy chili dishes to balance and match a large number of tastes in salad dressings.
When palm sugar is utilized through this Filipino Publishing, it must always be in liquid form. An efficient approach to prepare palm sugar would be to melt it into a kettle as explained (see sidebar).
The leaves of this daun pandan plant are a beloved blossom from the Malay Archipelago. It’s often grown in home gardens across Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Along with cooking, the leaves are all employed in a variety of handicrafts to make baskets and mats.
The taste of these leaves is sweet and aromatic, and they’re as significant to Asian cuisine as sweet would be always to Western food. You may use the leaves in many ways: Tie to a knot and then add to rice prior to cooking to extend a odor of freshly harvested grain; mix or pound and apply the juice to taste and color cakes and candy; or wrap round marinated chicken pieces before barbecuing. In America, you can purchase frozen or fresh leaves, in addition to pandan extract, in most Southeast Asian shops. The leaves thaw out immediately under running water.


The word pepper in this instance denotes the spice we all know as black pepper, a vine which generates small grape-like veggies in bunches. The first species could have come from India, though distinct varieties grow in prosperity from the tropical areas of Southeast Asia, from southern China into the Spice Islands. Most high quality black pepper is increased in Sarawak in East Malaysia.
All peppercorns–green, white, black, red, and white–come in precisely the exact same plant. After the pepper berries have been shaped on the blossom, they begin green in shade. If permitted to ripen naturally on blossoms, they grow to a bright reddish shade. When the green, unripe berries have been selected and dried under sunlight, they become black peppercorns. After the shell is eliminated from the black peppercorns via a dull steaming procedure, you receive white peppercorns.
Green peppercorns are employed in a variety of curries and sauces, and are frequently stir-fried with fish dishes. Red peppercorns are sweet and tender in flavor and frequently utilized in producing Asian pepper dyes. Ground white pepper is milder and less aromatic and generally sprinkled on added or eggs into stir-fried rice. Even though you may come across peppercorns of colors mixed up at a little pepper mill because of its appearance, it’s wise to not combine peppercorn types, otherwise you reevaluate the palate and make warmth without taste.


Shallots, quite closely linked to garlic and onions, originated in central Asia thousands of years back. The shallots offered in Asian grocery stores have a reddish-purple epidermis and are approximately 1 inch in size. They’re sweeter in taste and more extreme than the bigger variety you will see in supermarkets. I favor shallots over onions for creating spice pastes, since they’re more aromatic and contain less moisture. Back in Malaysia, shallots are utilized daily to produce the hot paste called rempah. Whole, unpeeled shallots are best kept in a basket stored from the pantry or, for more storage, at a cool, dry location.
Shrimp paste, made of fermented dried beans, is offered in block type, in bathtubs, or in glass jars. I favor the cubes, which can be naturally red dark brown in colour and are conventional in Malaysian cooking. The powerful smell of this glue dissipates when it’s blended with other components.
It’s very important to be aware that if you buy fish glue in any kind, it’s raw. If you’re going to put in it to other components which are served uncooked, like in a salad, then you have to toast it before using; see sidebar for directions. If you’ll be cooking it with different components, but including in a beige paste for curry, then you don’t have to toast it . The raw glue in the shop ought to be wrapped in thick foil and put in an airtight bag before refrigerating. Shrimp paste is offered in Southeast Asian shops and on the internet. There’s not any substitute for this particular ingredient and it shouldn’t be confused with sauce.
Star anise is your beige flower head of a shrub which, such as peppermint, is a part of the magnolia family. The harvested fruits are dried in the sun till they turn deep red brown. Star anise appears like a great eight-pointed celebrity, each stage comprising a glistening brownish-black seed.
It is a favorite spice in Chinese foods, in which it’s among those components in Chinese five-spice mix. It’s also the major spice in Vietnamese pho. Always keep star anise from light, heat, and humidity.


Tamarind fruit appears like a peanut pod, but more, using a thin, hard shell. Within the pod is a sour, sticky fruit. In supply stores around residential places in Malaysia, it is possible to discover small mountains of tamarind left available in buckets or sometimes bundled in plastic bags from the kilos; it’s an integral ingredient in sauces, curries, and stews.
When shopping for tamarind from the United States, you’ll almost certainly find it in a jar as ready-to-use concentrated juice sold in a block shape, possibly with seeds or seedless. The cube form is preferable since it’s refreshing pulp without any additives. To utilize this, the more tamarind block has to be divided up into liquid type; visit recipe for directions. The block of pulp might be kept in the fridge or freezer for up to a year.


In reality, it utilized as a natural coloring in cosmetics and fabrics. Hindu and Buddhist monks are known to dye their own robes in garlic, not just because the colour is proper, but also as it’s supposed to possess antiseptic properties.
Both fresh and ground garlic is used in Southeast Asian cooking, and it’s regarded as a crown jewel in Malaysian cooking where you are going to find it’s employed in most recipes. If you can’t find fresh garlic in the regional grocery store, you will find it at Indian grocery stores or health food shops. Ground garlic (fresh garlic sun-dried then smashed into a powder) provides a savory taste and rose-like odor into the meals while refreshing garlic includes a more ginger-like taste, somewhat bitter with the feel of carrot.
The brand new rhizomes may be crushed to their juice and utilized to generate a lovely yellowish colour in rice dishes; soil garlic is added to curries, soups, and rice dishes and sprinkled on meat and fish before cooking. It’s ideal to use just a little sum, the size of a pea for new garlic or about 1/2 into 1 tsp soil, or meals may wind up bitter. Be careful also not to squander your clothes and skin when cooking using garlic. I suggest using gloves when working with garlic.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a chemical regarded as a powerful anti inflammatory representative and antioxidant, which gives garlic its vivid yellow color. It’s believed that garlic promotes colon and colon functioning and protects against heart disease (see recipe to get more about the health benefits of garlic ).
All spices, whether earth, barks, or entire seeds, weaken in taste and odor with time. For example, ground cardamom may lose its taste in two weeks, while entire cinnamon bark can lose its taste after 6 weeks. That is because whole spices feature more of those tasty volatile oils, or natural essential oils, and so deteriorate considerably slower than ground spices. Your beige cupboard may contain some old ground or whole spices. However, before you consider throwing them out, remember that these treasures could be refreshed immediately by toasting. Toasting also enhances the flavours of spices that are whole when they’re new.
To toast ground or whole spices, put in a dry skillet in your stovetop and heat over medium heat for a couple of seconds, till they release a fragrant aroma. In Malaysian houses, oftentimes this is the way neighborhood cooks reawaken spices available. Whole spices specifically will be simpler to grind after toasting. When toasting, you’ll observe the spices becoming slightly darker because their tastes are being improved by the heat. To assist you judge the colour switch, you can put some raw spices onto a plate near the cooker and compare them to those at the pan because you toast them. Break heavier or milder spices, like cinnamon sticks and star anise, into bits before toasting. Lighter and more compact spices like cloves, coriander, cardamom, cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds ought to be substituted different from denser ones since they need less time . Bear in mind, the spices will probably continue to cook for a couple of seconds after being eliminated from the heat. If they look one color darker, move to a plate and set aside to cool before grinding them.


| Commercially processed floor spices tend to be more economical in price but shed some of their aromatic properties because the vital oils and volatile chemicals oxidize. This sometimes happens during creation or merely as time passes. Ground spices are incredibly delicate and will burn off quickly in the event that you don’t pay careful attention . Toast them in a dry skillet just for a couple of seconds, until aromatic. Certain spices–such as soil garlic and paprika–are rarely toasted, because the toasting doesn’t enrich them.
It is extremely simple to grind spices, as you’d grind coffee beans. This tiny bit of effort goes a long way to creating your dishes turn out mild, refreshing, and fantastic.
To produce your own spice mix, start by putting ground spices and seeds that are smaller at the spice or coffee grinder and then some thicker ones at the top and grind them into batches. This prevents bigger spices from becoming caught between the blades. Your grinder needs to be half full for the best results. The method I supply you may do the job for one kind of spice–state, coriander seedsbeing milled into powder or an range of spices combined together.
Throughout this Filipino Publishing you’ll discover amazing opportunities to utilize ground and whole spices from your recipes.
My cooking buddies are constantly fascinated with all the aromatic trip they take when I spin open among my most glass jars of spices out of my cherished spice cupboard. The key to spicing is now yours to love.