Fresh, aromatic and exotic, serai (Malay for lemongrass) is an essential ingredient in South East Asian and Malaysian cooking. Growing up in Malaysia, I recall being sent by nenek (grandmother) to pluck this wonderful herb that grew in wild abundance on grassy banks along deep ditches that collected and dissipated the monsoon rainwater. Mission accomplished, I would run back to my grandmother’s kitchen, gleefully clutching fistfuls of serai, daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves) and cili padi (bird’s eye chillies). Handing my prize possessions over, I would then squat on the kitchen floor and spend the next few hours, watching her busily pounding away at her gigantic batu tumbok (pestle and mortar), grinding spices, toasting belacan (shrimp paste) and doing all manner of wonderful things to produce a feast for the tastebuds and the senses. Years later, when living abroad, I would find myself searching London’s Chinatown for serai, only to find what grew wild and free in Malaysia, selling at a premium! Wild Serai is a nostalgic celebration of the very best of Malaysian cooking, with a strong Malay and Nyonya influence.
As a brief introduction, Wild is S——’s moniker, and Serai is Y’s handle. Wild is from Sarawak, Western Borneo and he brings to the team his organisational skills and his ethusiasm for all things tasteful. Serai from London via Kuala Lumpur is the cook and together we pick and source the very best ingredients from Malaysia, ranging from Kangkung to the very hard to get, Bintulu Belacan.We hope to feature a few ambitious dishes from around the South East Asian Archipelago (Nusantara) and with that promise in mind, we hope you will be able to come to our next supper club and treat your tastebuds to some good old fashioned slow home cooked Malaysian soul food – just the way Serai’s nenek used to make.
Bhinneka Ika Tunggal