Chef Shahril Omar of Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s Sudu Restaurant illustrates the versatility of palm oil through his culinary creations, writes Karen Ho
PALM oil has been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. Even the ancient Egyptians regarded it as a sacred food. Archaeologists didn’t find remnants of fried chicken or kebab sticks during their excavations, but an earthenware jar containing residues of palm oil.
Fast forward and we’ll find that palm oil today is still the most popular in cooking, for obvious reasons. Palm oil provides a rich natural source of heart-friendly nutrients, like vitamin E and carotenoids, and it contains no cholesterol or harmful trans fatty acids. In addition , it contains excellent cooking properties including a higher smoking point, in which the oil does not smoke at high temperatures as easily as other oils, making it better suited for high-heat cooking, like frying.
Palm oil is also semi-solid at room temperature, which makes it a cheaper alternative to butter, for example, in making pastry dough and baked items.
At Sudu Restaurant in Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Chef Shahril Omar says his team regularly use palm oil, especially in preparing Malay dishes.
With Malay cuisine as his specialty, Shahril shares some simple ways to use palm oil in preparing Malay fusion dishes.
Classic dishes are given contemporary twists for that element of surprise. Shahril prepares an appetiser — acar ikan or mackerel cooked in white vinegar and spices — a slice of deep-fried mackerel topped with spoonfuls of crunchy red hot acar (pickles), all cooked in palm oil.
Although the acar is a little too fiery for me, it is just a matter of adjusting the amount of chillies in the recipe.
For the main course, Chef Shahril offers a revamped version of ayam percik which replaces the gravy-laden chicken pieces with mini chicken kebabs on lemongrass sticks. The delicious and fragrant minced meat of the kebab is mildly spicy and tender. Placed on a base of lightly flavoured fried tofu slices, the kebabs are topped with crispy turmeric leaves and a drizzle of percik sauce on the side. Makes for a very interesting fusion dish.
Palm oil isn’t just suited for savoury dishes but can also be a healthier alternative or a complement to butter or margarine in baked desserts. The idea of using 250 grammes of palm oil to make a chocolate and banana loaf may sound unusual, but not when it comes to taste or appearance. Although it didn’t have that rich buttery flavour and could have been more moist, the loaf is pleasing enough, and tastes just like the banana and chocolate cake you may find in a local bakery.
Chicken Kebab With Percik Sauce
500g minced chicken
20g curry leaves, chopped
50g chopped garlic
50g chopped lemongrass
50g cumin powder
50g fennel powder
50g chilli powder
50g coriander leaves
10g minced ginger
Palm oil for pan-frying and grilling
1. In a mixing bowl, put minced chicken and all chopped items.
2. Add eggs, cumin powder, fennel powder, chilli powder and mix together all the ingredients with seasoning.
3. Form the meat into small rolls and wrap around lemongrass sticks like a kebab. Pour some palm oil into a pan, and seal the meat in the hot pan.
4. Then put onto a baking tray, set the oven at 180°C and cook for 20-25 minutes.
60g coconut milk
60g shallots, blended
30g dried chillies blended
10g ginger, blended
Salt or pepper to taste
5g shrimp paste
5g rice flour
5. Heat the coconut milk with other ingredients except rice flour.
6. Add rice flour then add sugar and salt to taste.
500g mackerel flesh (marinated with turmeric powder and salt)
500g palm oil for frying & deep
100g shallots, minced
50g garlic, minced
10g ginger, minced
20g red chillies
20g green chillies
5g curry leaves
150g white vinegar
100g black mustard seeds
250g chilli paste
350g cucumber sticks
350g carrot sticks
Sugar and salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies mixtures then saute until brown.
2. Add curry leaves, white vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds then saute for a few minutes.
3. Add lemongrass and chilli paste then saute until cooked.
4. Add vegetables, some sugar and salt to taste.
5. Add fish and cook slowly.
Chocolate & Banana Loaf
250g palm oil
510g chocolate chips
560g wheat flour
10g soda bicarbonate
15g baking powder
270g brown sugar
15g cinnamon powder
1. Place eggs, milk and palm oil in a large bowl and whisk until mixed well.
2. Add bananas and chocolate chips. Stir until mixed well.
3. Add flour, soda bicarbonate, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon powder, then fold until mixed well.
4. Bake at 175°C for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Balik kampung with Sudu
This Ramadan, Sudu Restaurant is offering its special Sudu Balik Kampung Buffet until Aug 19. Patrons can feast on an extensive range of traditional and fusion offerings. There are also a Japanese station, Carving station, and Noodle station. Signature dishes include daging dinding, biryani kambing (lamb biryani), ayam percik Kelantan, and roasted whole lamb. It’s a traditional balik kampung feast in a contemporary Asian setting.
Prices: RM139++ for adults and RM69++ for children during weekdays. Weekends: RM119++ for adults and RM59++ for children.
Sudu Restaurant, Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2264 2592 or 2264 2596.