Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I Learned : 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan Book Launch

Happy New Year, everyone!

The holidays are over. For some, it's back to the humdrum of everyday life. For me, it's the beginning of more exciting things to come. Cooking, a workaday chore in the past, has become an invigorating hobby. It's also the only workout I look forward to without grimacing. I say 'workout' because pounding ingredients, cutting meat and stirring the pot produces a bit of sweat.

And lets not leave out the facial steam spa treatment I get during the cooking process! All natural, except that I don't smell anything as pleasant as lavender once I'm done. Garlic and shrimp paste, likely!

I'm tickled by memories of my younger self, sitting on the steps of our old squeaky wooden staircase, watching mom swish her spatula across the wok, flipping meat and vegetables over the soy sauce gravy that was considered staple in our family cuisine.This was how I learned to cook.

Fast forward now, running a food blog and a cooking group with Eve (the founder of Sweet Home-Chefs) has certainly encouraged me to take a deeper interest in the ingredients I work with.

Last April, I was blessed with an opportunity to meet Chef Wan, Malaysia's food ambassador, at a book launch. The new cookbook was released to commemorate Chef Wan's 40 years in the culinary world. I walked away with not only an autographed copy of 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan, but also his wise words which I have carried with me until today.

1) Use your eyes, trust your nose. ~ Be it for cooking or buying fresh ingredients. Well, that makes a lot of sense. If it doesn't look or smell right, something could be off.

2) I am always learning. ~ On getting tips from the hawkers at Jalan Alor. Food is something that can be cooked or served differently in so many ways by different people all over the world that it's always going to be a learning process.

3) Cooking is about connecting to people. Good food is not just about keeping us healthy in a physical way, it is also about feeding our spiritual health, that is, love, family bonding, friendship. ~ This happens when we share the food we cook with someone.

400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan (400 of Chef Wan's best recipes) is a cookbook that carries a host of authentic Malaysian cuisine in the richest sense. A fair list of ingredients are necessary. There are no shortcuts for good old-fashioned recipes that is the core of traditional Malaysian food which is always a flavourful affair.

Chef Wan's Book Launch

Can coconut milk be taken out of nasi lemak and paired with something other than sambal to make it simpler? It would lose it's authenticity and it certainly can't be called nasi lemak if there is no 'lemak' (richness/creaminess) to it. That's the reason I love this cookbook so much. I get a glimpse of what it means to truly cook with fresh local ingredients and an idea how to combine them for that heavenly aroma that so excites our gastronomical sense. Pandan leaves, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaf, turmeric leaves <--- See? It's all about making fragrant food! 

A quick shot before rushing over to another location to get the book autographed!

I've been tinkering around with some of the recipes in the book for my daily meals. Except for one which bears no close resemblance to the original recipe in the cookbook, I have not shared any of my adventures on this blog.

My conclusion: Although this cookbook is not limited to local cuisine, it is still a keeper for anyone who's keen to learn the ins and outs of it.

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  1. This cookbook sounds fun and I look forward for your future posts featuring the recipes in the book!
    Hope you are enjoying your week Sharon :)

    1. Aww...I am. Thank you, Juliana and I'll try! ;)

  2. I will get a cookbook one day
    haha now still quite occupied with other things
    wait till I have spare time to learn cooking xoxo

    1. I have no doubt that you will, Emily. You're adventurous all round!

  3. Looking forward to the recipes you'll share from the book, Sharon! I love Malaysian flavours and that's the main reason why I'm growing galangal now.:)

  4. Wow! Having a photo session with a celebrity chef and meet him in person was a great experience. Nice tips from the great chef. Thanks for sharing, Sharon.

    1. You're welcome, Rose. Chef Wan is always generous with tips and advice. :D

  5. Hi Sharon,

    I saw this book when I was in Singapore but the books are in Malay language and I can't find them in English language. Can't read Malay and so I didn't buy it :p

    It must be fun to meet Chef Wan and hear these brilliant words from him.


    1. Oh, yes. I enjoyed it very much. Chef Wan makes cooking such a vibrant affair. Well, I hope they print an English edition soon! :D

  6. This cookbook sounds great, Sharon! Hope they print an English version too! :)

  7. So interesting! You must have learned a lot and enjoyed it too!

  8. Sounds like a really cool book, Sharon! I think Chef Wan has a restaurant in SG if I'm not wrong......

  9. Sounds like a wonderful cookbook and so great that you were able to meet the chef in person. Happy cooking!


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