My day at the Good Food and Wine Show 2011, Melbourne continued with a delightful cooking demonstration by Allen Woo from LaksaMe. Allen was a great cooking demonstrator, he knew his Malaysian history and the story behind each unique ingredient as well as the story behind each dish! Look out MasterChef - this is one chef who will make sure the contestants know what they're doing if you ever have him on the show for a Malaysian cooking challenge.
Allen's cooking demo was a lot more organised compared to Adam Liaw's demonstration on the previous day. Not only did they have all the ingredients right, Allen also had two boys helping him cook and prepare the dishes so he can focus on teaching the audience!
The first dish they made was the "Rojak" - which is basically a Malaysian fruit and vegetable salad but not the type of salad most people are used to! The Rojak sauce is spicy and savoury with a hint of sour, and ANYTHING goes in the fruit and vegetable salad mix - anything from freshly chopped fruits to fried tofu to beans... mixed together with the Rojak sauce and topped with crushed peanuts.
The Rojak sauce is black and sticky and one of the main ingredients of this sauce is "Belachan" aka dried shrimp paste which is very popular in most Malaysian dishes. I love belachan, and I love rojak :)
The end result? I was surprised by just how spicy Allen's Rojak was! I'm not used to spicy rojaks.. back in Kuching, I'm more used to stickier and sweeter sauce, and I especially love the fried tofu in it - whereas Allen did not use fried tofu in his Rojak although he did mention that he would normally chuck it in too, but not for the purpose of the demonstration on the day. Fair enough.
The next dish was of course the Laksa, the dish LaksaMe is famous for! I love how Allen goes into story-telling mode and tried to educate us in terms of the different types of laksa available in Malaysia depending on which state. He explained how the Penang Laksa is different to the laksa from Sarawak, and that laksa in Ipoh is just called "Curry Mee" and that laksa in KL is just laksa and the difference between curry laksa and assam laksa.
He did, however, reveal his secret ingredient in his laksa dishes - the "Bunga Kantan" aka Ginger Flower which gives the laksa a distinct flavor I have never ever tasted in my bowl of laksa. So that's what I've been missing out on!
The end result? A lovely, smooth and slightly creamy laksa... perfect comfort food for the winter. The "Bunga Kantan" definitely gave Allen's laksa a bit of a kick and I love it! Wish I won that Laksa Paste giveaway Allen did at the end of the demo... just missed out! Bahhh...
..... To Be Continued