Christmas a la Malaysia

20151125_115637laksa poached prawns

Disclaimer: I was a guest at the event

A couple of weeks ago I headed to Sprout Cooking School for an event hosted by The Malaysian Trade Corporation.

Callum Hann and his team put together a three-course Christmas dinner but with a Malaysian twist. I arrived not really sure what to expect – we hadn’t been sent a sneak-peek menu and I wasn’t even sure if we’d be cooking ourselves (we weren’t).

What I didn’t realise before the event is that Christmas is a big deal in Malaysia. After all, Malaysia is both hot and steamy and its official religion is Sunni Islam. But talking to the Malaysians at the event, it turns out that the heat doesn’t put anyone off the idea of turning on their oven and roasting a turkey for Christmas Day. I was assured that Malaysian aircon is super-efficient!

The point of this lunch was to showcase Malaysian ingredients and techniques and how they could be incorporated into what many would consider a traditional Australian Christmas lunch. Everything was presented share-style and the table was soon laden with all sorts of goodies. We had Christmas-themed place settings, complete with crackers and before long everyone was reaching across the table to try something.

Seafood featured heavily – particularly for the first course. The laksa poached prawns were delicious and this is definitely not an idea you need to reserve just for Christmas. We also had kingfish sashimi and, of course, oysters.

20151125_123922potato salad

Main course featured a couple of standout dishes for me. The big one being the satay potato, spring onion and peanut salad. Potato salads can be very hit and miss. Invariably, at best they are pretty boring and at worst downright nasty. This was absolutely delicious and something I’ll have to look at replicating. Just for the surprise factor alone, I was happy to rate this my dish of the day.

20151125_123917tomato and snake bean salad

The tomato and snake bean salad with sesame and ginger dressing was also really popular, and the tamarind pork with a nasi lemak cucumber and mint salad also hit the spot. We also had szechuan pepper crusted duck and the showstopper was a glazed ham. But, in keeping with the theme, glazed with chilli, palm sugar and fish sauce.

20151125_124012glazed ham

For pudding, we had a Malaysian riff on a trifle containing mango, coconut, lychee, kaya (a kind of coconut jam) and macadamia nuts. Although it looked scarily sweet and rich it was actually a well balanced and light dessert.

20151125_133346mango and macadamia trifle

If you’re in South Australia and looking to source Malaysian ingredients you won’t be surprised to learn that the Central Market is your go-to destination – especially if you want to pick up anything slightly more obscure than satay sauce! However, it’s more than likely you’ll find a few bits and pieces in your local supermarket.

As our family’s supply of Christmas prawns has arrived, I hope to find the time to experiment with them in a laksa and maybe even perfect the satay sauce potato salad.


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