Malaysian Golden Rice (Nasi Kunyit)

1 cup sticky rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced thinly (optional)
3 slices of lime
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 pandan leaves, washed and knotted together (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Banana leaves (cut smaller to line steamer or use cheesecloth as an alternative)

Wash and drain 1 cup of uncooked sticky rice until the water is clear, about 2 to 3 rinses. Then soak rice in enough water to cover together with ground turmeric, fresh turmeric, and lime slices for at least 4 hours up to overnight.

When ready to cook, mix coconut milk with salt and set aside.

Bring some water in a steam pot to a boil. Drain the rice, remove turmeric and lime slices, and transfer to a steam basket lined with banana leaves or cheesecloth. Spread the rice well and add pandan leaves, whole peppercorns, and drizzle with 1/2 the coconut milk. Cover and place on top of the pot, making sure that the bottom does not touch the water. Steam the rice over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Gently flip the rice. Add the remaining coconut milk and steam for another 15 minutes. Sticky rice is cooked when it becomes soft and translucent. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the pandan leaves and serve warm.

NOTES:
· Always store sticky rice in a closed container. If it dries out and becomes hard, heating it up on a pan with a little water works, but there’s a risk of the rice becoming mushy.

· For this recipe, I use and recommend Savoy Coconut Cream. The can lists only two ingredients: coconut extracts (70%) and water.

· To make this with regular rice, combine 1 cup of washed and drained uncooked rice together with all the ingredients (except banana leaves). Factor the coconut milk volume in the amount of liquid required to cook the rice. For example, if 2 cups of liquid is needed, then add only 1 cup of water as the coconut milk makes up another cup of the liquid. Cook as usual in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. You can read this post on how I cook rice.

Kaya

1 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons palm sugar
4 tablespoons cane sugar
3 pandan (screwpine) leaves
4 large eggs

Set up a double boiler. Bring water to a boil and turn it down to medium-low heat. Melt sugar in coconut milk in the double boiler. Make sure the bottom of the top pot is not in contact with the water in the bottom pot. The water should be at a very gentle simmer.

Cut root end of pandan leaves and clean under running water. Bruise leaves slightly to help release its flavor, then tie them into a knot and add to mixture. When sugar has melted, which should happen very quickly, remove the pot of mixture from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Whisk eggs well, then strain into mixture and carefully stir until combined. Place the pot of mixture back in the double boiler on medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant silicone spatula, for about 60 to 70 minutes. Use the spatula to scrape the side and bottom of the pot to ensure even cooking. The mixture will gradually thicken, noticeably so after 40 to 45 minutes.

If at any time lumps start to appear, remove mixture from heat immediately and stir or whisk until smooth. This happens when the mixture is overheated, resulting in the eggs curdling, so reduce heat before continuing to cook. Alternate between stirring and whisking to reduce lumps. If necessary, blend mixture with an immersion blender (without pandan leaves).

Once the mixture reaches a spreadable custard-like consistency, remove from heat. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove pandan leaves. Cool completely before transferring to a jar and storing in refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup of kaya.

Rojak Buah

2 to 3 cups of the following fruits: cucumber, jicama, pineapple, underripe mango and papaya, tart apples like Granny Smith, peeled and seeded where necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional add-ins: A handful of baby spinach or bean sprouts and pieces of fried firm tofu

SAUCE
2 to 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted ground peanuts

In a large bowl, add hoisin sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar, chili powder, sesame seeds, and half of the ground peanuts. Mix well to combine into a sauce. Then add the fruits and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the ground peanuts and serve.

Malaysian Tofu Salad with Peanut Sauce

PEANUT SAUCE
3 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lemongrass, white part only, chopped
3 to 5 dried chillis, soaked in warm water for a few minutes, chopped
1/2-inch galangal, peeled and chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground
1 tablespoon tamarind paste* or lime juice
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water, and more as needed
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

10 to 12 pieces fried tofu puffs*
2 cups carrots, shredded
2 cups cucumber, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts, blanched in hot water for a few minutes and drained
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted, for garnish

To make the sauce, start by making a spice paste. In a blender or food processor, add the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, dried chillis, galangal, ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric and blend until you get a smooth paste, scraping down the sides and adding a little water when necessary.

In a saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat and stir-fry the spice paste for 3 to 5 minutes until fragrant. Add the ground peanuts, tamarind paste, dark soy sauce, coconut milk, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with sugar and salt to taste. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

To assemble the salad, in an individual serving plate, place 3 to 4 pieces of fried tofu puffs, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup shredded cucumber, and 1/4 cup bean sprouts. (Use the amount suggested here as a guide and feel free to adjust as you please!) Top with the desired amount of peanut sauce and garnish with roasted whole peanuts to serve.

*NOTES:
· Prepare the store-bought deep-fried tofu puffs by briefly dipping them in hot water to remove excess oil and pat dry before toasting them in the oven until browned and crispy.
· Fried tofu can be substituted with extra firm or firm tofu cut into cubes either straight from the packet or lightly pan-fried or grilled.

Soy Sauce Noodles

3 serrano chilies, seeds removed and sliced into rounds
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
2 shallots, finely sliced

4-6 baby bok choy
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of salt
A small glug of shallot oil

1 tablespoon shallot oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
7 ounces dried wonton noodles, cooked according to package instructions and drained
Fried shallots, for garnish
Preparation

To make pickled green chillies: Blanch the chilies in hot water for about 10 seconds and drain. In a small bowl, combine the white vinegar, salt, and sugar, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the chilies and set aside to pickle for at least 1 hour.

To make shallot oil: In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry until the slices start to turn brown, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the shallots continue to fry until they turn a darker brown. Remove shallots from the oil and drain, saving the oil. Allow the oil and fried shallots to cool down.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the sugar, salt, and shallot oil. Add baby bok choy and bring the water back to a rolling boil. Remove the baby bok choy immediately and drain. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the shallot oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add the cooked noodles and toss to mix well. Taste the noodles and add more soy sauce if you like the dish saltier.

Divide the noodles into two serving plates and garnish with the reserved fried shallots. Arrange 2 to 3 baby bok choy on the side of each plate. Serve immediately with pickled green chilies on the side.

Notes: While wonton noodles (both thin and wide) are typically used, you can also try it with rice noodles, soba noodles, and even spaghetti noodles.