Chef Dato Fazley Yaakob is a man of many talents. Seriously. His story doesn’t begin or end with food. As well as a businessman, motivational speaker and TV host, Yaakob is a popular singer in Malaysia, recording several albums before becoming a contestant on Malaysia’s Celebrity Masterchef – and winning.
Not quite content to enter the industry from there, Yaakob sought to deepen his understanding of food and cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. His fusion of French and Malaysian cooking now defines his food at his restaurant, SukaSucre Bistro in Kuala Lumpur.
Yaakob shared with us his rendang recipe, which he presented to Australian Cordon Bleu students earlier this year.
Malaysia’s traditional way of preparing ingredients and cooking them are very similar to the French technique – from the way the ingredients are cut, to the way they are marinated and cooked. The only major differences are the herbs and aromatics used for the recipes, due to cultural, geological and historical differences.
I find it very exciting to combine French flavours and Malaysian ingredients. Historically, the two cuisines are worlds apart; but the culinary science behind each has plenty of common ground.
In Negeri Sembilan where I was born and raised (about an hour away from Kuala Lumpur), the older generation of cooks taught us not to waste any edible parts of a protein; whether it’s cow, sheep, or even seafood. [The lesser used parts of an animal in western cooking] will always be used in Malaysia for additional flavour. Offal in particular is a deeply flavourful addition to the standard rendang recipe, and Negeri Sembilan’s rendang is famous for its unique flavour and dark color.
Once cooked, offal absorbs all the aromatics and spices in a dish, and it adds a wholesome character to a well-cooked rendang. It can be an acquired taste to many, but it is certainly delicious to me!
There’s a beautiful Malay saying that goes, “Tak kenal maka tak cinta”, which is translated as, “To know is to love”. So to my adventurous Australian readers, give it a try! You really don’t know what you’re missing until you have tried it!
250g red onions (halved)
7 cloves garlic
2.5kg coconut milk
1⁄2 cup ground chilli
20 bird’s-eye chillies
2 tbsp tamarind flesh,
mixed with 1⁄2 cup water
1 cup grated, toasted and ground coconut (kerisik)
Salt to taste
Blend half of the red onions, garlic, bird’s-eye chillies, 3 stalks of lemongrass (sliced) and galangal. Add the rendang spices and ground chili to the blended ingredients. Slice the remaining red onions.
Heat the oil, then fry the cinnamon, star anise and cloves until fragrant. Then, add the sliced onion and blended ingredients.
Put the beef in first and cook until tender. Then, add the liver and spleen.
Add the tamarind. Bring to a boil, then add the coconut milk little by little.
Add the remaining two stalks of lemongrass, kerisik, salt and sugar. Stir ingredients until the oil separates and gravy dries.
Serve with lemang (Malay glutinous rice), ketupat (Malay compressed rice) or steamed rice.