This week on Taste of a Traveller, Brett McGregor travels to Malaysia, visiting the exclusive luxury island resort of Pangkor Laut. Here he learns an ancient style of cooking, which was used by fishermen to preserve food when at sea for several days. This style of cooking has almost been forgotten in today’s modern world, as Brett learns how to cook using bamboo as an oven. Taking what he has learned back to New Zealand, Brett then recreates the dish using local ingredients, including Olivado’s delicious sesame oil.
Curried Fish in Bamboo
Brett starts in the Avondale Market in Auckland, searching for ingredients for his dish back in Aotearoa. “Chef Firdaous says I can stuff my bamboo with any kind of herbs I like,” Brett tells us. “So I’m going to keep it fresh, keep it seasonal, and use my favourites; some mint, morning glory and some coriander.”
“Back in Malaysia, Firdaous showed me something I’d never seen before- cooking with bamboo,” Brett says. “We have an abundance here in New Zealand, so we might as well use it.” He starts by creating a paste, using fresh turmeric, candle nuts, coriander seeds, some cumin seeds, and some of his favourites, including galangal. “If you can’t find candle nuts,” Brett explains, “then use macadamia nuts.” Brett slowly pounds these ingredients in a mortar and pestle until smooth, creating a delicious laksa paste.
Time to cook the paste on a medium-high heat. Brett uses Olivado’s Sesame oil to cook the paste in. “It’s untoasted which means I can fry in it,” he explains. “It’s a great flavour enhancer as well.” Brett then fries the oil until it separates from the paste, and then adds coconut milk. Once an oily residue appears on the surface, he then sets it aside to cool.
Once cool, Brett then takes the curry marinate and pours it over the fish. “If you’ve got a little bit of time, you can cover this and put it into the refrigerator,” he explains, “but even five minutes is going to be enough time.”
While the fish is marinating, Brett mixes the herbs he bought earlier in Avondale market. He starts stuffing the bamboo pole with the ingredients, layering them. Starting with the herbs, Brett then adds a second layer of kaffir lime leaves for flavour, followed by a third layer of the marinated fish. Flattening down each layer before adding the next, Brett repeats until the bamboo is full.
Once packed, Brett grills the bamboo on the BBQ, standing upright until the steam stops and there is no liquid left on the top of the bamboo. While that’s cooking, it’s time to make the rice coconut black rice.
After rinsing under some water to get rid of any grit, Brett then adds the black rice to a saucepan, using the absorption method of cooking. “It’s slightly different to the way we learnt in Malaysia,” Brett says, “we’re cooking in a pan instead of a coconut.” He flattens the rice out and adds coconut water. “To ensure you’ve got the right about of water, simply add your thumb to the liquid and if it comes up to that first notch, you’re good.”
Bring it to a boil and after about 10 minutes, when the rice is cooked through, fluff it up with a fork. When the rice is ready, Brett then carefully cuts the bamboo pole in half, revealing the perfectly cooked fish.
“The fish is really aromatic, and perfectly moist,” Brett says after tasting it. “I’m really happy with how that turned out.”
If you would like to try this incredible Malay dish at home, then you’re going to need some of Olivado’s Sesame cooking oil. Take a look at our products here, and if you have any questions about us or our award winning avocado oil, then please don’t hesitate to contact us today.