MALAYSIAN cuisine will be featured by celebrity chef Martin Yan of ‘Yan Can Cook’ fame in a food and travel programme called ‘Taste Malaysia’ to be aired in September this year.
The 26-episode programme to be aired on NTV7, 8TV and Asia Food Channel (AFC) will feature the various cultures and traditions of the country as well as its eclectic cuisine.
The programme will be made available in two versions — English and Mandarin — to reach a wider audience of at least two or three billion people.
“Malaysia is a melting pot of culture and food and I am proud to be its ‘ambassador’ to showcase this unique ‘flavour’ to Asia and the world.
“I last visited the country 18 years ago and have highlighted Malaysian food in ‘Yan Can Cook’ on AFC, but this will be the first time where I travel to all the states and showcase the places of interest as well as the food.
“I was in Cameron Highlands for a few days, and visited the farms there. I also met up with the local community and learnt about their culture, tradition and food,” Yan told newsmen during a visit to Ghee Hiang Manufacturing Company Sdn Bhd in Beach Street yesterday.
Yan, 67, a Hong Kong-born American, is a regular on cooking programmes over the last 38 years and his shows are shown in over 50 countries.
He has hosted over 3,000 episodes of ‘Yan Can Cook’ since 1982 and owns a chain of Yan Can Restaurants. He also founded the Yan Can International Cooking School in the San Francisco Bay area.
Yan said he expected Taste Malaysia to reach an audience of about two or three billion people.
He said his crew of 14 would spend five days in Penang, savouring hawker cuisine and nasi kandar, and visiting traditional eateries which had been in operation for several generations.
“The programme will place emphasis on tradition which is synonymous with Asian culture and the type of food that have been around for centuries and how they evolve over time.
“The declaration of Penang and Malacca as heritage cities adds a certain aura of tradition and culture as age-old practices can still be found in these cities.
“In Malacca, the Portuguese, Dutch and English influences can still be seen in the architecture, culture and food, something which is very unique,” he said.
During the second day of his visit, Yan got down and dirty with the fish at GST Group fish farm near Pulau Jerejak.
“One of my favourite fish is the sea bass as it is very versatile,” he said.
He said water played an important role in seafood and the texture of the fish depended very much on the type of water.
“Fish in tropical or equatorial climate can grow three times faster than those in cold water.
Yan also took the time to give reporters some tips on how to deep fry a fish.
“Fish more suitable for deep frying are those with not too much oil content.
“The secret to cooking fish to crispy perfection is to make sure that it is deep fried in extremely high temperature,” he said.
The ever smiling and humble chef who loves to eat curry does not consider himself a celebrity.
“I am ever ready to jump into the kitchen. I don’t consider myself a celebrity; just a chef,” he said, adding that he would be learning how to cook Nyonya curry fish from Golden Sands Resort executive chef Adrian Lim.
On his Taste Malaysia series, he said Chef Wan and Jimmy Choo would guest star in his shows.
“We hope to get Michelle Yeoh on board as well,” he said.
After Penang, Yan’s next stop would be Ipoh and other districts in Perak.
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