Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No chili sauce please, we are Malaysians

That was breakfast this morning.

McDonald's sausage and egg sandwich with tomato ketchup as sauce.

Unlike other Malaysians, we can't stand chili sauce especially Maggi chili sauce. It really drives us nut to find chili sauce in our McDonald takeaway instead of the original American takeway that come with only ketchup (without having to mention tomato).

Just because Malaysian take everything with chili sauce, they presume every Malaysian only take chili sauce with their McDonald's burgers. .

Our more internationally exposed tastebud is more choosy. Different food goes with different sauces. There is no one sauce to go with all dishes the way Malaysian do with their ubiquitous chili sauce.

Perhaps it does not apply to all Malaysian. To the Chinese, they have many type of sauces. Light soy sauce is great with steam fish. Using many basic sauces like dark soy sauce, black bean sauce, plum sauces, hoi sin sauce, etc. they develop a variety of unique sauces for different dishes.  

Japanese have their own version of soy sauces. One popular industrial brand is Kikkoman that goes into their cooking. For sushi and sashimi, it has it's own soy sauces. There is also specially concocted soy sauce for yakitori.
Maybe this fascination with chili sauce is only a Malay habit.
French Onion Steak with chili sauce anyone?

It reminded us of an incident in our days as a Banker. We were dining out with some Bank Bumiputera bankers abroad at a French restaurant and this Perakian bloke from Taiping ordered a steak.

When his steak arrived with all the side dishes and sauces, he requested for chili sauce from the waiter. The head chef appeared in full all-white attire asking in his thick French accent, "Pardon Monsieur, anythink ghong with de foot?"

To the French chef, it was an insult to his culinary skill to request his painstakingly prepared gravy sauce replaced by Nestle's industrial Maggi chili sauce. The least our friend could have done was to ask for the British Wochestershire sauce or American steak sauce, A1 or HP sauce.

However, our friend was being a typical Malaysian to prefer Maggi chili sauce for the world reknown French sauces for his steak. We had a good laugh at that incident whenever we get together today.

Another friend, a chef who used to be Managing Director of Dutch food service company and made the mistake of returning to be a local restauranteer, described to us the basic component of prepared food.

All prepared food comes in three basic components; the main dish, sauce and condiments. Steak dinner comes as steak as the main food, steak sauce as sauce, and vegetable or potato as side dish or condiments. While, the simple local fast food of nasi goreng is made up of rice as main food, perencah as sauce, and food bits thrown in as condiments.

The French and generally European has lots of different sauces that major restaurants would have specialist chef to prepare only sauces.

Sauce is usually liquid, creamy or semi-solid served on or at times, similar to our nasi goireng perencah,  used in preparing other foods. It serves to add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to the main dish.

Salad dressing are sauces. It is basically an emulsion of olive oil, acidic fruit juice like lemon or lime, salt, black pepper, herbs and other stuff.

To the Italian, Greek, Arabs, and other Mediteranean, olive oil forms the main ingredient, if not the only ingredient, as their sauces.

Malaysian sauces tend to be spicy or three-in-one taste of sweetness, saltiness and spiciness in their sauces. The most common ingredient for Malaysian sauces are tomato usually accompanied with chili. While Malaysian Chinese sauces tend to be soy based.

Other than Indians, most Malaysian are not used to sourish tasting sauces like the European Mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauces. These sauces uses has lime juice or yogurt to bring the sourish taste.

Sourish sauces reminded us of those Greek yogurt sauce that came with their gyros kebab. We would have those for dinner before a night at the Blues joints in Chicago.
Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin sauce, meaning salted. And possibly the oldest sauce recorded is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans. The Thai's Nam Pla could be as old as civilisation.

The Thai also have their version of chili sauce that is making market entry into the chili sauce craze Malaysian market. One can find it in our Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. Colonel Saunder must be turning in his grave restless.

Other than that, Thai's green curry "sauce" is finding a natural positioning here in a country where curry is not associated with Indians but have become part of the diet of all races in Malaysia.

But it is the effort of the Indian diaspora that brought curry sauce to it's international standing. It has become common dish to American and European that they have their own method of preparing    curry sauces.

Globalisation that bring curry to the west also brought mayonnaise to Malaysians. Locals have acquired the sourish taste to the point that local burger stalls also use mayonnaise for the local style burgers that usually come with chili sauce.

Thanks to the Italian, local parents have found a short term solution to the reluctance of their children to eat veggie. Mesh the veggies in the thick tomato spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti is inching to replace rice as staple food for Malaysian children.

However, there is more to spaghetti than those red tomato sauces. There is also the green pesto sauce made of pine nuts and basil in Italian restaurant.

In Johor, the garlic with soy dipping sauce was originally meant to go with fried toofoo. It has evolved to go with almost everything, including the pisang goreng for evening tea.

One can find many sauces concocted for ikan bakar. There is also sauces of budu or cencalok or tempoyak that is best eaten with ulam, Malay version of salad in our everyday Malay rice dishes.

Let's not leave out our sambal. Most sambal are paste but some sambal can be watery enough to be considered as sauces. Certain version of sambal tumis for nasi lemak in Johor come with santan and is more a sauce than a paste.

We have barely touched on Kelantan food, and also East Malaysian foods.  

Thus, it puzzles us why Malaysian must have chili sauces all the time when there have an endless unique selection of sauces to go with their food.

Though we must admit being a chili sauce junkie in our teens, but that was out of necessity.

It was to make the badly prepared dishes in mass cooking dining hall in boarding school edible. Food was sometime so bad that we had rice with Maggi chili sauce.

The entry of Aminah Hassan nutty tasting chili sauce in the market was a god-sent substitute to the sweetish vinegar based Maggi chili sauce.

But mean old Nestle bought the Klang based entrepreneur and killed off the product. Otherwise, it could have been as big as Lingam chili sauce that have reached the orientals stores of Britain and America.

Can someone produce that sauce and give Nestle a run for their chili sauce?

Let's be clear on one thing. We've not actually put a total ban on Maggi chili sauce. All those mispacked McDonald chili sauces are kept and accumulated for use later, Waste not want not, okay.

Maggi chili sauce is still great as dipping sauce for jemput-jemput as Johorean would call it or cucur kodok or gross literally translated as skewered toad to other Semenanjung Malays.

However, for keropok or keropok lekor, do not waste it on that common chili sauce. Get those cottage made sos dedicated for it.

Be sure to accumulate it in one of those trip along the Easy Coast of Kelantan to Kuantan. Help our poor fishermen make additional side income.

So happen we gave shared this idea to our friend, who is the owner of the brand Enaq Malay kicap sauce (watch the TV ad) that was a recent market entrant in the kicap market. We suggested him to explore the idea of helping to develop further the cottage product and help to market and distribute this kampung folks recipes.

Give them a chance to be millionaires. Chinese entrepreneurs learn many Malay kampung recipe to make belacan, cencalok, ikan jeruk, budu, etc but did not the profit from the intellectual property gained.

Perhaps it is not just Chinese but it is typical character of greedy bastard capitalist pigs in general.

The great thing is our friend of 40 years had a bigger dream of a Mark and Spencer class of marketing outlet for local products. That's fine as long as profit made is fairly shared with all.

It so happen, one friend of ours, Dato Azam or normally addressed as To Ki, who is the President of the Muslim Consumer Society, have got a shop at the lower floor of the Mall (or there is a new name of the shopping complex next to the PWTC) as marketing outlet for Muslim-made and kampung products.
These are all admirable efforts towards a fair and equitable 1Malaysia where the spirit of Rakyat didahulukan, Pencapaian diutamakan should be absorbed by the business community.

Without community support, no business or entrepreneur could survive. Without Bumiputera supporting Bumiputera entrepreneurs, no Bumiputera Industrial and Commerical Community (BICC) can be developed.

However, it has to be a two way symbiosis of interdependence. It is no more business people and entrepreneurs selling products and services to the community for profits or the least, for livelihood, but also business people and entrepreneurs contributing towards community development.

That is a bigger concept, which Teraju can never see, because Tan Sri Nor Yakcop hired a short sighted and closed minded stock analyst and government funded venture capitalist to do token work for Bumiputera while he whacks in by the hundreds of millions.

Sometimes past gentlemen can become greedy bastards upon given power. And there are those idiots willing to do their running.    

We may have astrayed to far from merely talking about chili sauces. So, someone must start to develop one chili sauce meant for jemput-jemput or cucur kodok.

It will be a great beginning to free Malaysians from the shackle of dependence to Nestle's Maggi chili sauce. True, Nestle develop program to help locals grow high quality chilies for Maggi's chili sauce. Off course, it is great material to show Nestle has a CSR program.

Couple of hundred years ago, the East Indian Company Limited of Great Britain claimed the same when they came to the Malay Archipelago for spice as exotic ingredients for their sauces and turn their bland Medievel recipe food tasty.

* Updated 29/8/2012 9:14 AM


fuuyoh said...

not just a chilli sauce, but Nestle or kimball only. dunno why. addicted perhaps

Asri said...

Org terengganu n kelantan also call it jemput-jemput.

i am curious, was your Perakian friend Muslim? And was the French restaurant halal?

I don't think there is any halal French restaurant....

Anonymous said...

Today chili sauce.

Tomorrow kopitiam to kick MNC nescafe and cofee bean out of Malaysian.

Entertaining piece voicey.

Anonymous said...

I'm a proud Asian who can't survive without Asian food. I will still look for chilly sauce and instant noodles wherever I go. Afterall, you can find them in Istanbul, Zurich, Frankfurt and even Stavanger Norway.

The chilly sauce and the Maggi mee have become international as much as the Australian steak or British fish & chips or Italian lasagna.

Anonymous said...

what to do many of us are still so kampung in our taste no matter how rich. Let's not start on the theatrical curtains and ropol2 upholstery in the gaudy overdone mansions. Then you go to the toilet ..all lecak2 and smelly. They must love or think sexy of all that wetness on the kain or clothes coming out of the toilet. I mean God, you wash up you need to dry up right. There's this aversion to having toilet paper as the ultimate symbol of kafirness eh.

Thai green curry sauce.....EWWWWW......BLERGGHHHHH.

Anonymous said...

And according to wiki...ketchup belongs to us!!!

Johorean said...

Chilli sauce ? Always Bumi Hijau. The best of the best..but can only find in back in JB aje. TS Mohd Nor Yakcop ? Sigh....

Anonymous said...

Yeah, can't stand how chilli sauce is automatically given with McD, BK, A&W or KFC. I always have to ask for ketchup.

I also can't stand how chilli sauce is automatically poured over the omelette that comes with the Nasi Goren Pattaya.

But the sweet chilli sauce goes well with Ramli burgers. Ketchup alone is not enough for Ramli burgers.

My Say