Asian Food Channel television show Eating Wild highlights Malaysia’s unique landscape, culture and mesmerizing cuisine. In the first episode, hosts Anis Nabilah and Nigel Marven explored the connection between orangutans and Malaysian palm oil, the natural oil that can be found in better-for-you products such as Smart Balance spreads and Luna bars.

Malaysia is a safe haven for orangutans

Nabilah and Marven visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Malaysia, the site of the world’s first project to return orangutans to the wild. The two interacted with baby orangutans while learning more about Malaysia’s concerted conser
vation efforts from staff veterinarian, Laura Benedict. Benedict said that the Malaysian government increased the amount of protected land, “so now the wild population lives inside the protected area.” More than 13,000 orangutans live in protected forests in Sabah, Malaysia’s easternmost state and the second largest state in the country.

Malaysian palm oil’s industry cares for the environment

Sabah is Malaysia’s largest palm oil producer, accounting for a third of the country’s palm oil output. Some people think that the oil palm industry is harming rain forests, but the hosts learn that this is not true. Malaysian palm oil is only grown on legally allocated land. Sixty percent of the land in Sabah is protected forest. IJM Plantations CEO Joseph Tek explained that many palm plantations are grown on lands that were originally used for other crops, such as cocoa. Tek said the Malaysian palm industry supports many local conservation efforts, “One of our pillars in our mantra to nurture sustainability is to care for the environment.”

Malaysian-inspired recipes

In an outdoor kitchen, Chef Nabilah prepared lobster tail with coconut gravy and young jackfruit. She used Malaysian sustainable palm oil to sauté a freshly blended spice mix of turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander. “I’ll be using my favorite oil, palm oil, which has no trans fat and no cholesterol. It is high in vitamin E tocotrienols, which is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation of your arteries and protects your heart.”

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After feeding the orangutans with a mixture of fresh fruits and vegetables, Nabila returned to her outdoor kitchen with Marven to prepare ceviche with deep-fried sweet potato. She prepared the fish dish with red snapper, peppers and calamansi, a variety of lime used in southeastern Asian cuisine. She then fried thin slices of sweet potato in sustainable Malaysian sustainable palm oil. Nabilah explained that palm oil doesn’t receive enough credit. “It is a healthy fat and it provides energy. In fact, studies have compared palm oil to olive oil and surprisingly it has a very similar nutritional outcome in humans.” Marven commented that olive oil is considered the healthy oil of choice and Nabila replied, “Over here, it has to be palm oil.”

The Asian Food Channel
The Asian Food Channel (AFC) is the leading food and lifestyle broadcaster in Asia, broadcasting in 13 territories including Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and the Philippines. The channel is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive which also owns U.S. favorites, the Travel Channel and Food Network. AFC is the first food TV channel to broadcast pan-regionally in Asia.