Leemei Tan-Boisgillot is an award-winning cookbook author, food blogger (My Cooking Hut) and photographer. She was born in Malaysia and spent most of her life living abroad. She recently published The Asian Home Kitchen: Fresh, vibrant dishes from Kuala Lumpur to Kyoto. The book explores traditional Asian kitchen essentials and home cooking – with a modern twist! A journey across a continent of incredible flavours and smells, ingredients and inspiration.
This book brings together all the best home cooking, street food favourites, healthy fakeaways and crowd-pleasers in one award-winning collection. We stepped into Lemeei’s kitchen to ask her a few questions.
Memories from the kitchen
I remember I was the 8-year old little girl who never failed to follow my mom to the kitchen – it wasn’t the most beautiful or the newest kitchen but it was well equipped!
The excitement I felt was unimaginable the first time she asked me to help prepare the ingredients for the dishes planned for that day, such as chopping onion, peeling and mincing garlic, and removing prawn shells. Even though it was to make really simple dishes like stir-fry vegetables, fried rice or steamed fish; those were valuable skills and techniques I learned that helped make me the skilled cook I am today.
Favourite foodie hotspots
I do miss good Malaysian food once every blue moon. A restaurant called ‘Cafe Malacca’ in Hong Kong never disappoints me and will always remain close to my heart. They serve authentic and delicious Malaysian favourites such as Assam Laksa, Nasi Lemak, Satay and a few others to name. The taste is well balanced and authentic – it’s so close to the flavours back home as if I was in Malaysia.
A food that means happiness
I am a noodle person and I always welcome noodle soup or anything soupy! Especially during winter months – it warms up the body and brings lots of comfort!
A bowl of Chicken Pho may look simple but with layers of flavours encapsulated in the soup, served with tender chicken pieces and fresh herbs surely brighten up my day! Another choice of mine that guarantees happiness is a bowl of spicy and sour Assam Laksa in rich and flavourful fish broth cooked with many different aromas. It never fails to bring a big smile on my face!
Unmissable pantry staple
It has to be pasta! It’s such a great all-round ingredient that goes well with anything which never fails to make my family happy, especially my two boys! They could have just about anything with pasta. So, I always make sure I have different types of pasta in my pantry.
A recipe that reminds you of home?
It has to be ‘Nasi Lemak’ – the national dish of Malaysia! It is such a versatile dish that lets you decide what you want to pair with fragrant coconut rice – be it curry chicken, fried chicken, ‘sambal’ squid or other types of seafood; then with hard boiled egg, crispy anchovies, ‘sambal’ and cucumber. I miss the very simple one consisting of coconut fragrant rice, crispy anchovies, cucumber, a boiled egg, and delicious sambal. Sometimes, simple is the best!
Asian kitchen essentials
Garlic is one of my favourite aromatic ingredients when it comes to cooking. However, peeling it could be a bit of a chore when you need lots of them for your cooking! I always swear by this faster way to “shake off garlic skin”. First break the bulb of garlic into cloves and put in a metal salad bowl, cover with another bowl. Then, shake vigorously for a few seconds. Remove one bowl to reveal peeled cloves.
Food in one word
Happiness and comfort (A bit cheeky as I can’t make up my mind!)
Found out more about Leemei’s latest book, The Asian Home Kitchen: Fresh, vibrant dishes from Kuala Lumpur to Kyoto. Also don’t forget to check out Leemei’s exclusive recipes in the latest issue of the Creative Impact magazine