Tempoyak hot sauce, anyone?

As Malaysia has reopened its borders, tourists are coming back in droves. On weekends, I like to drive them around and show what Malaysia has to offer, sharing our culinary delights away from the tourist traps, and promote other must-see places and must-eat foods beyond whats available in Kuala Lumpur.

I love doing this because it is a two-way exchange. One with me sharing what locals do, second with them sharing their wonderful observations of Malaysia. This is as much a learning experience for them as for me.

It is a delight, and in an age where everything seemingly on the decline, there are actually plenty of things that we Malaysians do right.

Last week I met Crissy, an American nurse and her husband, Alvin. They have been to South East Asia numerous times; Malaysia though has a place in their hearts as this is the 4th time coming here, now for 3 months.

I brought them to local kopitiams (Capitol in Bukit Bintang) where we had toasted bread with the customary hot coffee and soft-boiled eggs.

Seeing that the couple was rather adventurous food-wise, naturally I introduced the pièce de résistance of Malay cuisines, which is the Patin Tempoyak (which if you are not familiar, is a type of catfish cooked in fermented durian). Its thick in spice, hot, and worse, durian.

Crissy and Alvin were champs. They love it. The rich durian broth opens up a new sensation, a palate never thought possible in their American food lingo.

“Syed, I have a feeling if we turn this (tempoyak broth) into some kind of habanero sauce (hot sauce akin to Tabasco) for BBQ, Americans would love it.”, mutters Alvin.

Crissy & Alvin, wish you both a pleasant, fun & safe trip to Ipoh, Kota Bharu, Kuantan and Malacca.