GREAT GRAINS

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on September 15, 2017 with No Comments

The starch at the heart of many Asian household takes on many forms.

Words MARYAM HASHIM

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NASI LEMAK
What it is: This is rice steamed with coconut milk. Sometimes the rice is steamed with pandan leaves to fragrant the dish. It is customarily served with fried peanuts, sliced cucumber, hard boiled eggs and sambal (chilli) sauce. A favourite among locals for breakfast, the dish is traditionally wrapped in coconut leaves with an outer paper packing. It becomes a full meal when accompanied by other side dishes such as stir fried water spinach, squid or prawn sambal, chicken or meat rendang (a spicy meat dish). or a deliciously cooked fried chicken.
Where to find it: Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia.

PHO
What it is: Slippery rice noodles dancing in a warm, deeply savoury broth. This beloved rice noodle dish is a complete meal in itself. Often taken over breakfast or lunch, a good pho broth is the key to a delicious meal. Traditionalists will say a good broth is clear and not muddy, wafting with the fragrance of beef, star anise and ginger. Finish the dish off with a generous squeeze of lime and copious amounts of basil and mint.
Where to find it: Vietnam.

HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
What it is: A dish that has been adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from Hainan can only mean one thing – it’s a must-try! The centerpiece of this meal is the fragrant ginger and garlic that lend its simple flavours to create a compelling dish. The rice is cooked with chicken fat and stock then served with steamed or boiled chicken and soup on the side. Families have their own secret recipes for the condiments, the chilli, ginger and soy sauces, that round up the flavours of the dish.
Where to find it: Malaysia, Singapore.

LO MAI GAI
What it is: The name translates to “lotus leaf wraps”. This dish is made by steaming lotus leaves filled with sticky rice, chicken and mushroom. You’ll love the filling tied into these square bundles.
Where to find it: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore.

ONIGIRI
What it is: A humble rice snack that packs a punch. Formed into a triangle or ball, wrapped in seaweed, onigiri comes in a variety of fillings. There’s tuna, salmon and salted roe, to name a few. It’s basically a portable snack that’s both nutritious and satisfying.
Where to find it: Japan.

KHAO NIAO MAMUANG
What it is: Mango with sticky rice. Glutinous rice, sometimes called sticky rice, is infused with a delicately sweetened coconut milk before once again topped with the salted version of the sweetened coconut milk. This sweet-and-salty combination is what gives the dessert its unique flavour. It is then served with slices of fragrant mangoes. The best types of mangoes to use are the juicier Nam Doc Mai or Ok Rong varieties. Not much variation in the preparation of the dish though sometimes you’ll find a sprinkling of toasted mung beans or black sesame seeds on the rice to finish it off. It’s both a favourite street food and dessert, and a great way to end (or start) any meal.
Where to find it: Thailand.

SUMAN SA LATIK
What it is: Glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf into tiny parcels. Open them up then eat them with caramelised coconut sauce. The sauce is almost like salted caramel, but better. And who doesn’t like tearing open parcels?
Where to find it: The Philippines.

NASI GORENG
What it is: Nasi goreng, or fried rice, is a great way to make use of
leftover food. What one puts in the fried rice really is up to one’s imagination. Households across Asia have their own recipes, usually rummaging through their fridge for leftover anything to be stir-fried with the rice. From a light egg version served in Chinese restaurants to one laced with a sweet soy sauce
found in stalls across Indonesia, fried rice is an immaculate meal in its own.
Where to find it: Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore.

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