#12: What Is Authentic Food, Really?

Ah, authenticity… It’s a tricky, sensitive topic in the world of food today. Southern food—with all its cultural ties to African-American communities—is being whitewashed, Asian food is being modernised and fusionised to suit Western palates (though they can definitely turn out to be greater than the sum of its parts), and it seems no one is safe from criticism about authenticity, not even Gordon Ramsay.

Though the conversation on authentic food is less disparaging here in Malaysia, it’s still an intriguing, if not immediately important, topic to tackle. So I talked to Dr. Eric Olmedo, a sociologist and food anthropologist, about whether some of the famous foods in Malaysian cuisine are truly, authentically ‘Malaysian’.

#11: White Rabbit Ice Cream

The nostalgic-Asian-flavour-in-ice-cream trend in real, because White Rabbit ice cream just hit Malaysia!!! And surprise, surprise, ice cream veterans Inside Scoop were the first ones to jump on the bandwagon. So I just had to bring them in for a chat.

We talk white rabbit candy, food crazes, and even got to taste the ice cream on the show! The verdict? I had my doubts for sure, but, surprisingly, it had not a hint of that childhood candy cloy, and instead was just pure milky, creamy ecstasy! I give it a perfect score—5/7. 😉

#010: Malaysian Chocolate

Ahh chocolate… I’m a sucker for chocolate, so much so that I miiight even consider myself a chocolate snob. Cadbury and Hershey’s? Uh, no thank you. (Please excuse my boujee-ness. 😅)

So I was super excited to get Ning onto the show, to talk about chocolate, the growing Malaysian cocoa industry, and how he’s working with indigenous tribes of the Malaysian rainforest to produce single-origin chocolate. (I also got given a chocolate bar, hehe. Perks of the job, eh?)

#009: Heirloom Rice

As Asians, we eat a lot of rice. It’s a staple in our diet, yet we pay very little attention to it, often coupling it with stronger flavours and intense sauces, with the rice serving more as a vehicle for these flavours. But really, there can be so much flavour to the rice itself.

This is especially true when it comes to heirloom rice varieties, as I found out from Lilian Chen and Melisa Lim. They’re co-founders of the Langit Collective, a social enterprise championing rice farmers in East Malaysia, and honestly I learnt so much about rice farming, and the challenges many East Malaysian farmers face.

#008: Nyonya Kuihs

Kuihs are such an important part of Malaysian cuisine. It’s a category of bite-sized desserts that can be sweet or savory, crispy or chewy, had at any time throughout the day, and is wholly adored by Malaysians everywhere. However, it’s rarely seen outside of Southeast Asia, when really it deserves so much more!

So this week, I invited the wickedly talented Nyonya chef Debbie Teoh onto the show, to talk about kuih, it’s (lack of) popularity in the wider world, and how we can spread our craze about kuih! I also got her to taste a kuih—specifically a pulut tai-tai—that I made!

#007: Sourdough

For a show that is called ‘Breaking Bread’, it’s a wonder it took us 7 episodes to finally talk about sourdough. But here we are.

To be honest, I’ve attempted at making my own sourdough from scratch, twice. But both were utter failures. Haih. But don’t worry, I’m not the one you should listen to about breads. Instead, listen sourdough maestro & home-baking guru, Gan Kim Poh (@gankimpoh), as he spills his sourdough secrets!

#006: Kelulut Honey

Ah, kelulut honey. While honey is often though of as sweet, kelulut honey is sour. While the hives of honey bees are hexagonally uniform, kelulut bees build irregular homes that look more like alien spawning pods. Despite this, kelulut honey has gained a cult following in Malaysia in recent years, largely due to its supposed health benefits.

So to teach us all about this weird, wonderful Malaysian honey, I spoke to Dino, a kelulut honey farmer in Malaysia, about the intricacies of kelulut honey farming and its seemingly supernatural health benefits.

#005: Gouda Grief, Malaysian Cheese?!

Although the exact origins of cheesemaking are pretty ambiguos, Malaysia would probably be the last country you'd think of when it comes to making the universally loved dairy product. But times are a changing, and Asia has become a recent hotbed for cheesemaking.

So this week, I invited Annisa Iwan onto the show. She’s a local cheese maker who makes cheese comparable to traditional French Bries and English Cheddars, all using the milk of Malaysian cows.

#004: Coffee and Kopi

In Malaysia, there are two coffee ‘movements’ that are ever in tension—the third-wave coffee movement, represented by the hipster cafes popping up all over the country, and the older, more nostalgic kopitiams, that has charmed local Malaysians for decades with super dark roast kopi and kopi-o.

To consolidate these two disparate coffee cultures, I invited Skye Lin onto the show. He’s a barista and co-founder of BEAM, a cafe that’s blurring the lines between the classic and contemporary coffee movements in our homeland.

#003: An Interview with Helen Goh—the Khaleesi of Pastry

Oh my gosh never in a million years would I have thought I’d get this opportunity, but I got to chat with one of my baking idols—Helen Goh! She’s the author of Sweet, the brains behind many inventive cakes and pastries, and the right-hand woman to Yotam Ottolenghi himself!

We talk about the present state and future of Malaysian food (she was born in Malaysia, and still visits often), our cooking trails and tribulations, and getting Yotam to eat durians.

#002: Beyond Rotis and Chapatis

There’s a whole range of Indian breads that have flown under the radar, even here in Malaysia where there’s a large Indian community.

So I brought in Chef Yogi, the chef behind Flour—a popular North Indian restaurant in Malaysia—to talk about the history of these breads, and the story behind his restaurant.

#001: Kooky About Kombucha

This episode is about kombucha, that funky, floaty friend I have fermenting away on my kitchen counter.

I interview Boon, a kombucha coach and brewer who’s spreading the word about kombucha in Malaysia through his business, Scoby Farm.