Monthly schedule of cooking school

Five of the Best – the Secrets of Chinese Spice

Five Spice mix is an essential ingredient in almost all of traditional Chinese cuisine. Exquisitely balanced between bitter and pungent, spicy and sweet, sour and salty, a well-made Five Spice mix is truly a “wonder powder” that lifts your cooking into the stratosphere. You can use it a rub, in a marinade, as a cooking ingredient, or even as a table condiment. In fact it’s extremely versatile and can be used with rice, vegetables, port, chicken and in almost any kind of stir-fry. You can even be bold and add it to sweeter dishes non-traditional dishes such as muffins, nut breads, pancakes, and even in coffee.

At the heart of Chinese philosophy is the concept of yin and yang, the need to balance the hot masculine principle of yang with the cooling influence of yin. This harmony is an essential feature of Five Spice mixes where each element has its own role to play but none predominates. There are many variants to it but a common mix contains: Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, cloves, star anise, and fennel seeds.

Let’s look at the ingredients one by one. First of all, there’s Chinese cinnamon, or cassia, which imparts a sweet, spicy flavour. Usually, it’s best to avoid cassia, as Ceylon cinnamon is healthier and has a more refined taste, but Five Spice does seem to call for the more pungent cassia. Next, comes Sichuan pepper, which isn’t a true peppercorn but a brownish red berry deriving from the prickly ash bush. It’s spicy, with undertones of anise and ginger and modulates to a lemony, sour flavour, which is both salty and hot. Cloves are next and, when they are ground up, they release a sweet and yet pungent aroma. The beautiful star anise is reminiscent of liquorice and carries vital bitter undertones. Fennel seeds, the final ingredient of the spice mix, are similar but sweeter and less pungent. There are variants, of course, and they include: anise seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, cardamom, liquorice, Mandarin orange peel and galangal.

Nyonya Lor Bak uses 5 spice powder as one of the ingredients in marinating the meat

In Penang, the Nyonya traditional of cooking, which includes Chinese, Malay, and Thai influences, Five Spice mixes are an essential component of many dishes. Many of the old Nyonya families have their own special recipe for Five Spice mixes, which are jealously guarded and handed down secretly from mother to daughter. If you are in Penang, you might like to join a Nyonya cuisine cooking class at the Tropical Spice Garden’s Cooking School. Cooking classes a held daily (except Mondays) featuring different local traditional cuisines including Malay, Indian, and of course Nyonya. Click here for class schedules. As classes are limited to 10 persons, chefs are able to provide a personalised approach. Though the menus follow authentic and traditional methods they are taught in such a way that you are able to recreate the delicious dishes at home.

Soya Sauce Factory Visit – More than just Salty

 

Mr. Cheah, third generation owner of Jin Chang Soya Sauce Factory treated a bunch of foodies and us from the gardens to a fantastic morning at this factory in Permatang Pauh. His various sauces are on the shelves under the Ayam Piru Brand.
Mr. Cheah shared some of his secrets of achieving good quality and healthy soya sauce – using lake salt and also ensuring the quality of his ‘koji’ (a naturally occurring culture that is mixed into his non-GMO soya beans).
Mr. Cheah has several grades of soya sauce with the most affordable being sold at RM6 for a 700ml bottle and the most expensive bottle of 150ml retailing at RM15 because it is without sugar and non-pasteurized.
He claims his hair has grown back and all his back pain has disappeared once he started on lake salt soya sauce!
A collector or artisan bicycles and also active cycler, Mr. Cheah receives much of his business revelation pedalling away on his bicycle! He also has been cooking dinner for his family for the last 10 years.
He gave me a great recipe for steamed fish by the way – just the way the chinese restaurants do it – watch this space to check out the results 🙂

The G Sisters – Ginger & Galangal

Same botanical family but so different in taste and use in cooking various Asian dishes!

There are around 400 members of the ginger family grown wild in the tropical Asia but these 2 particular variety is the one universally  known as Ginger & Galangal.

Ginger

 

A young ginger has a very thin skin, is pale yellow and has pinkish shoots with green stalk ends, while old ginger is beige-brown with a thicker skin. Young ginger is more tender and juicy than the mature rhizome, so it is preferred for grating or pounding to extract the juice, a popular marinate with Chinese chefs. It can be eaten raw, and is also pickled. Mature ginger although sometimes served raw in very fine shreds, is more commonly cooked as the flavour is more emphatic than that of young ginger. Ginger is widely used for medicinal purposes throughout Asia, particularly to improve digestion and to counteract nausea and vomiting.

GalangalThe galangal has a pungency and tang quite unlike that of the common ginger. The young shoots of the rhizome are pale pink and are more flavourful and tender than the older beige- coloured rhizomes. Galangal is too spicy to be eaten raw, and is used in slices, chunks or pounded to a paste for various curries and side dishes. When pounding or blending galangal to a paste, first shop it into small pieces as it is often obstinately tough. Perhaps this is why Thai cooks often just bruise a large chunk with the flat side of a cleaver and add it whole to the cooking pot.

 

Article Source: Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School

TSG -Cooking School Open Day

Tropical Spice Garden’s much acclaimed Cooking School is now having an Open Day, filled with fun activities for both adults and children! Delicious cooking classes and tantalising cooking demos to excite a foodie’s tastebuds! Food vendors galore to whet your appetite 😀

Please register for the cooking classes as spaces are limited: only 10 personal cooking stations so hurry up!

More details here: TSG COOKING SCHOOL OPEN DAY

Registration/Enquiries:
E: michelle@tropicalspicegarden.com
T: 04-8811797 | 012-4865795

 

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Feature Chef : Nyonya Su Pei

nyonya supei jpeg_Fotor

The new year 2016 sees Chef Nyonya Su Pei hitting the ground running as she is being carried forward by the momentum of success she was catapulted into after last year’s incredible George Town World Heritage Eat Rite Festival.

With her increasing popularity, Nyonya Su Pei is being kept busy and she laments that last year was the first time she was unable to complete a project – be it a piece of embroidery artwork or writing down all her recipes to be compiled into a book. With a goal of adapting sophisticated Nyonya cuisine for the public, she collaborated with Straits Chinese (Penang) Association on a two-volume cookbook: Nyonya Flavours which has been best-selling for five consecutive years.

Nyonya Su Pei

As the Nyonya cuisine are essentially family secret recipes which have been adapted and adopted over many generations, we asked the ‘taboo’ question of whether Nyonya recipes can really be shared. “When writing out a recipe, I can only write so much,” says Nyonya Su Pei. She reveals that even if there is a group of people cooking the same recipe, the differences in environment, ingredient preparation and even stirring methods can result in different tastes. The intimacy of hands-on teaching can never be replaced with mere words.

Photo Source: Nyonya Su Pei's Facebook

Photo Source: Nyonya Su Pei’s Facebook

For her first ever cooking class in Tropical Spice Garden, it was a “daunting experience to demonstrate to experienced and international gourmands who have probably seen more of the world than I have.” With her incredible passion and determination, Nyonya Su Pei has converted many visitors to the gardens into Nyonya food lovers and has even successfully carried out several Nyonya Masterchef Challenges as a team building activity.

With 10 working stations in Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School, we provide a hands-on environment for that personal experience in learning of our unique local cuisines. Book a class or a teambuilding session today!

 

Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School

SPICING UP THE GREEN LIFE!

Going ‘green’ seem to be a fast-growing trend in the light of current environmental issues but are you as confused over the variety of areas and options and ways as we are? Fear not, for the next month or so we are here to help!

 

Pamela Nowicka, a staunch supporter of environmental friendly pursuits, will be holding a couple of talks at our town shop: TSG In The City, 29 China St.

  1. Being Vegan: Saving The Planet One Bite At A Time
  2. Going Green: Saving The Planet One Habit At A Time

talk-vegan by pamela JPEG

Being Vegan: Saving The Planet One Bite At A Time

Veganism sounds like daunting lifestyle for those of us who grew up loving our pork knuckles, beef rendang, and mutton curry. Author and journalist, Pamela Nowicka, will be introducing the vegan concept – what it is and what it isn’t. Pamela became a vegan in 2013 for personal health reasons and after experiencing the life-changing benefits, she embarked on a mission to debunk myths and false assumptions about veganism.

In this talk, she will be  comparing the implications between a non-vegan and a vegan lifestyle for the environment, water, animals, health, climate change.

If you are curious about the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle or apprehensive about potential challenges of going vegan, bring those questions to the talk!

 

 

Going Green: Saving The Planet One Habit At A Time

Modern life leaves a lot to be desired on the sustainability front. With ever decreasing resources like water, topsoil and biodiversity, what can the ordinary person do to make a difference?

Pamela will be outlining the above issues and explore the challenges in changing our lifestyle to be more environmental friendly – does living in high-rise buildings mean we can’t do much? What can we actually do?

 

 


 

Complementary to these talks, we have a vegan cooking demo and a gardening workshop which relates back to the talks and for you to follow up with ready-made, pro-active solutions.

talk-vegan by pamela JPEG - Copy (3)talk-vegan by pamela JPEG - Copy (2)

Keen to start a greener lifestyle with us? Come spice it up with our promotional package!!
Attend both talks, the cooking demo and gardening workshop for RM180 which includes a Spice Friends membership and save up to RM60!

Enquiries & Bookings:

E: education@tropicalspicegarden.com

T: +604 8811 797  |  +6012 4988 797

FB Event Page: Spicing Up The Green Life

Chef Nurilkarim | Jawi Peranakan Cuisine

This 4th August 2015, TSG Cooking School will be having a Jawi Peranakan cuisine cooking class conducted by one of our guest chefs, Chef Nuril.

Jawi Peranakan refers to a community of Muslims with South Indian and Malay parentage born in the port cities of the Straits of Melaka; namely Penang, Malacca, and Singapore. It all started in the early 19th century when Muslims from South India migrated to Southeast Asia as traders and missionaries. As they settled down and married the locals, the resulting cultural merge was a “distinctive identity that was captured in their architecture, clothing, jewellery, and cuisine.”

Immensely proud of his heritage, Chef Nuril is eager to share the delights of Jawi Peranakan cuisine with TSG Cooking School guests where “the surroundings are calming with its beautifully landscaped hills of healthy spice [and herb plants] which allow us to gain a further understanding of how we incorporate these spices in our daily food.”

“Working as a chef, I have done quite a number of classes and demonstrations but cooking in Tropical Spice Garden is a privilege for anyone who loves food and the bond it has with nature.” The kitchen in TSG Cooking School is equipped with 10 working stations for a very intimate, hands-on experience for “enthusiastic individuals be it a tourist or local who is keen on learning the unique blends of Malaysian cuisine.”

Chef Nuril has won multiple awards since his undergraduate days and was the Culinary Editor of the Peranakan Muslim Heritage Series book, “Feasts of Penang: Muslim Culinary Heritage” by Dato Dr. Wazir Jahan Karim. With a remarkable academic background in western culinary arts, his passion remains in the tantalising flavours of Asian food and Penang’s unique Jawi Peranakan cuisine.

As an esteemed chef, one does wonder if Chef Nuril has higher expectations of himself when it comes to cooking Jawi Peranakan dishes compared to other cuisines.

“I definitely have high expectations of myself, not only in the food but more for the overall delivery of the class, and whether the students are comfortable with my workflow. Personal expectations are usually achievable if we take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of making a mistake. For my students, when it comes to Jawi Peranakan cooking, setting my expectations too high would mean a very rigid class. Personally, to relax and enjoy the fun you have with cooking is the first step so knowledge can be retained alongside fond memories, my expectations for the students most of the time is their willingness to learn and to try new things even though if it may seem a little alien at first. Jawi Peranakan food, like many cuisines from fusions of many cultures, focuses on balance although [it is] slightly richer than traditional Malay food. Once the students understand how to achieve this balance in the food with the usage of the proper ingredients and its quantities, most of my work is done. From there having understood the fundamental principles of cooking, the student is then empowered to add their own personal touches or adjust the flavours notes to their liking.”

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Upcoming classes:

4th August 2015

15th September 2015

 

9.00am – Live Guided Tour of the Spice Terraces

9.45am – Complimentary tea @ Bamboo Garden

10.00am – Gift Shop 10.15am – Cooking Class

1.00pm – Lunch with Chef @ The Patio

 

Menu:

Creamy Rose Chicken

Ghee Rice with Cucumber Achar

Sago Pudding with Palm Sugar

 

Charges: RM233.20 (incl. GST 6%)

 

> Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School 

Cooking Demo : Thai Inspired Party Food

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Throwing a party at home? Besides from drinks and cocktails, party snacks and finger food is a must!

TSG Cooking School will be hosting a Cooking Demo on Thai inspired party food by our very own in-house cheft- Devi Nadarajan. Learn how to make simple Thai snack dishes like the ‘Pandan’ Chicken, Money Bag, Green Curry Chicken Cake and for the dessert learn to make Thai Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk!

Date: 28th March 2015

Time: 10.30am – 1pm

Location: Santai Corner, Tropical Spice Garden

Price: RM60 (normal) & RM45 (Spice Friends and partners)

Click here to register for the Cooking Demo.

*Best to register before the 24th of March so that we can prepare the very best for you! 🙂

Do not miss out this opportunity to learn with our passionate chef and to mingle with groups of food enthusiast.
Hosted by: Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School

*Please note that the cooking demo will be conducted in group demonstration form, no individual station.

T: +604 881 1797    M:+60124865795  E: michelle@tropicalspicegarden.com

Jawi Cuisines at it’s best with Chef Nuril

Chef Nurilkarim

Chef Nurilkarim

Introducing our new guest chef at TSG Cooking School starting February 2015- Chef Nurilkarim Razha.

Nuril will be conducting cooking classes on Jawi Peranakan cuisines, which we believe he is the most suitable candidate to do so because of his astonishing background and experience in the industry. He will be having his very first class at TSG Cooking School on the 3rd of February 2015. Do not miss this opportunity to learn from an authentic Peranakan Jawi chef!

I have always had a very strong passion for food from an early age, not only in cooking Asian dishes but trying out different combinations of herbs to enhance local flavours and bland European food. The food industry also generates infinite possibilities for the young and passionate. My interest in this field is inspired by the way my parents encouraged me to make culinary presentations to their guests and the ovation I received from my friends every time I cooked for them. Growing up in an environment such as Penang where the culinary mosaic is so diverse and all ethnic communities delight in trying food from other cultures, I have thoroughly enjoyed eating out and finding the ‘secret’ ingredients which has made particular dishes so ‘special’ to the people in Penang and tourists. Penang has helped me develop a strong love for local cuisine and flavours. I believe my Diploma in Culinary Arts and Degree in Hospitality and Events Management combines well with my earlier interests and will provide me with a firm foundation to start my career in this industry.

Furthering my undergraduate studies in Hospitality and Events Management has also given me a wider perspective in the industry. I now can expand my capabilities and interests and venture beyond the kitchen into higher managerial positions. I have also learned to accept high standards of practice and service, necessary to expel the perceived mediocrity affecting Hospitality and Tourism in some parts of the country. My other personal interests also include flora and fauna photography, gardening and indigenous aquaculture related to sources of food; I am a firm believer in sustainable sources of food particularly in businesses which are large consumers of natural resources. As an individual who is young in this field, I am eager to develop a modern fine dining Peranakan cuisine for an international clientele where every flora of the Menu; flowers, spices, shoots and herbs, will be research based and sourced from our lush equatorial gardens and rainforests. I hope eventually to be an international symbol of tropical hospitality and a future market leader. I know I must do this – fulfil my life ambition and find happiness in what I do.”

Nurilkarim Razha is a Malaysian award winning Chef, with a degree in IMI Bachelor of Arts in International Hospitality and Events Management (Hons) and an IMI Diploma in Culinary Arts. While he was an undergraduate at college, he was Captain of the Independent team at Hong Kong; won the Bronze Medal at’ the Food Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge’, East meets West, Open Category, Food & Hotel Asia Singapore, in April 2010 and the Silver Medal at the International Culinary Classic Competition, Hong Kong in 2011. He created a fusion nyonya and French entrée prepared with grilled cod and otak-otak with Asian basil and pesto sauce. He conducted a cooking demo for a book launch, entitled, ‘Redefinition: Molecular Cuisine, Traditional Recipes through a Modern Kaleidoscope” by Darren Teoh Min Guo’ at the Grand Dorsett, Subang Jaya in October 2010 and had a published patented recipe in the book, entitled Senangin Masak Assam,Peppered Jelly, Ulam pp 172-175 ; 2010: August Publishing . Nuril was Head of Food & Beverage and Planned Menu for ‘World Chefs Day’, Tropicana City Mall, endorsed by Chefs Association of Malaysia, October 2010. He has been Executive Chef of the ‘Practical Production Module’ KDU University College, November 2009 and Class Representative and Executive Chef of Cula 3, Diploma in 2009.

Nuril Joined Cilantro at Micasa Hotels, Kuala Lumpur in 2011, the only Malaysian Restaurant listed in the Miele Food Guide where he engaged in a week-long food fest with two Star Michelin Celebrity Chef, Yuichi Kamimura in November 2012. In 2013, he returned to Penang to take up a job as Executive Chef and Manager of JAWI HOUSE, a Jawi Peranakan or Peranakan Muslim Heritage Café on the famous Armenian Street walk in George Town. He designed the Peranakan Muslim Heritage Menu and the organisational plan of the Heritage Café at JAWI HOUSE.

Nuril was Culinary Editor of the much acclaimed Peranakan Muslim Heritage Series book, “Feasts of Penang: Muslim Culinary Heritage” by Dato’ Dr Wazir Jahan Karim (MPH 2012) and presented the book to TYT, Tun Abdul Rahman (Dr) Hj. Abdul Abbas, the Governor of Penang in July 2013 at the Third George Town Festival, an event co-sponsored by Think City and JAWI HOUSE, which also launched JAWI HOUSE Café Gallery. In August 2014, he was selected for the Penang Global Tourism Promotional Campaign, featuring Jawi Peranakan foods and participated in AFC/Penang Global Tourism Series on ‘My Penang’ in August 2014. In September 2014, he organised the Peranakan Muslim Food Launch at the Opening of The Star Building, George Town. Nuril was strongly recommended to participate in SNAP TV (London) Series on George Town’s Street Foods with Ainsley Harriot; “Anisley Eats the World” and demonstrated Jawi Laksa, a JAWI HOUSE signature dish for Chef Ainsley Harriot, in November 2014.

For more information about cooking classes schedules and availability, do log on to TSG Cooking School’s website: www.tsgcookingschool.com or simply drop us a line below if you need any assistance. All bookings and payment should be made in advance to avoid any disappointment. 

Goat-cha! 2 days of Fun at TSG

Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day is just round the corner, and we have interesting programs lining up to celebrate these auspicious event.

For the first week of February, we will be starting our very first Jawi Peranakan Cuisines cooking class with guest chef from Jawi House Penang –Chef Nurilkarim. The class will feature Ghee Rice with Cucumber Achar, Creamy Rose Chicken, and Sago Pudding with Palm Sugar. Book online here.

The cooking school will also be open during the weekend itself but this round it’s for the children! Let your children participate in The Little Chef’s Adventure where they will first join in for a 5 Senses Tour, where they could maximise the usage of their sense of hear, touch, taste, smell and sight in the tropical forest, learning about the nature environment and also on the tropical herbs and spices. Then they will go on a journey of food preparation where they are expose to different ingredients and are required to produce a set or two dishes under the instruction of the facilitator and they will end the session with the most exciting Slides & Ladders 3D Boardgame. Limited space, so do hurry up and book a slot for your kid. Group bookings are most welcomed too.

Not to forget, on the following Sunday (8th Feb), all are welcome to join in for a Craft making session where children can get a hands-on session doing Chinese New Year crafts and decorations and followed by a Story Telling Session with Master Choo, where he will be sharing stories about ancient Chinese tales, ie the 12 Chinese Zodiacs. This event is open to public and it will be held at the Pavilion. So if you happen to be nearby on Sunday, do drop by the garden with your kid and enjoy a two and a half hours of fun with us!

Do no hesitate to give us a call or drop us a line in the comment section if you have any enquiries 🙂

T: +604 881 1797   E: education@tropicalspicegarden.com