Markets and Malay Rendang with Chef Ann!

On the way to Tanjong Jara on a recent agents exploratory trip, I read about the ‘Talking Chef’ who has made herself something of a celebrity in this part of Malaysia and was very excited to meet her!

In the morning, she drove us in a mini bus talking all the way to the local market where she sources fresh ingredients for the hotel kitchen where she has worked for 15 years. Everyone in the market knows Chef Ann and we spent a wonderful hour being introduced to fishmongers, spice sellers and sampling the local foods – I loved the sesame seed pancakes but others wished they had not tried the Durian Fruits …. Something I had previously decided I would leave for the Orang-Utans, it’s something of an ‘acquired taste’ shall we say!

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Back to the hotel we put on our aprons and found a line of gas burners and chopped ingredients waiting for us…. I love chilli and spices and the aromas wafting down the table were definitely telling my tummy it was lunch time! Chef Ann told us how to prepare the spices and to mix in water and coconut milk to taste … just ten minutes later our dishes were on the plate and we were at the table with a bowl of rice tucking in! Fabulous fast food – it felt like we were on an Asian version of some TV chef’s programme!

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That evening (after some of us had done a short jungle hill walk above the lodge to admire the view down the gorgeous beach) Chef Ann cooked our evening meal. As we anticipated this was no ordinary evening meal! Plate after plate of traditional food was bought to the table and whisked around on a huge ‘lazy Susan’ … peanut chicken, gorgeous prawns, spicy dumplings and local curries – a feast fit for a king!

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This weekend, I will be trying the recipe back in my Suffolk kitchen and look forward to maybe returning to Tanjong Jara again for a longer more relaxed stay on the Malaysian East coast! If this post inspires you to try similar experiences you may also like the food tour in Vietnam or Al Vecchio Convento in Italy.