This post was originally published on January 27, 2017 and updated on June 8, 2021.
Locally sourced ingredients have been a favorite of foodies for years. But it can be challenge to deliver exotic-tasting cuisine using only local ingredients. That’s why some of the nation’s top chefs are looking outside their home communities for flavorful sustainable ingredients. Chef Gerard Viverito, associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, has embraced ingredients from one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries, Malaysia. Several of his recipes feature planet-friendly Malaysian ingredients such as certified sustainable palm oil, lemongrass and tamarind.
Chef Gerard Viverito has spent several months in Malaysia and worked side-by-side with many of the country’s leading chefs. His cookbook, Back to Basics, features easy-to-follow recipes from the nation’s top chefs.
Viverito has also appeared on network TV, in newspapers and magazines sharing his passion for Malaysian cuisine.
- His six-minute Malaysian soup recipe was shared on NBC news.
- Viverito’s Fish Taco recipe was featured on Food52.
- He showed CBS viewers the benefits of marinating with Malaysian palm oil.
About Malaysian cuisine
Malaysian cuisine is infused with influences from China, India and Southeast Asia. Without the heat associated with some Asian cooking styles, Malaysian cuisine combines spices such as turmeric, cumin, chilies, cardamom and coriander with aromatic seasonings including curry, tamarind, ginger and lemongrass.
Trending Malaysian ingredients
1. Malaysian red fruit palm oil. “This is both healthy and cultivated responsibly. It can be used in place of canola oil for high-heat sautéing. Don’t confuse palm fruit oil with the much maligned palm kernel oil that was once widely used in movie popcorn. Red palm oil is non-GMO and comes from the plant’s fruit. It contains numerous micronutrients that make it heart- and brain-healthy, said Viverito.
2. Lemongrass.“This is a stalky tropical plant with a lemon scent that grows most notably in Southeast Asia,” explained Viverito. “Common in Thai cooking, lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma. It can be minced or pounded and added to dishes. Remove once the desired level of flavor is achieved.
3. Ginger root.“This rhizome is a staple in Asian and Caribbean cooking. It provides a bit of heat and fragrance to cooked dishes. Sometimes it is pickled as well. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors are somewhat different.”
4. Cilantro. “A popular Mediterranean herb, cilantro is commonly recognized in Asia as leaf-coriander. It is widely used in savory dishes. It is similar to dill as both its leaves and seeds can be used as seasoning.”
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