The Famous French Ingredient in Local Food

Find out how you can add flavour and texture with it.

Favourite French ingredient

Chef Sylvain Dubreau and Chef Stephane Alexandre are instructors at Le Cordon Bleu. According to them, the most used ingredient in French cooking is… BUTTER. We find out from them how to use butter in our beloved local food. (Maybe butter rice instead of santan in nasi lemak?)

How should you use butter in Malaysian food?

“I was born in Normandy, the country of butter. We also use lots of cream and it makes a whole lot of difference as compared to using margarine. For a dish of butter prawns, here we would usually use margarine and milk. You can use butter and fresh cream instead to make the dish tastier,” shares Chef Stephane.

Pic credit: Eat What Tonight

“Butter has a nice infusion of flavours and it’s one way to adapt a French technique for Malaysian cooking. Use local ingredients and balance it out with butter to give it a good kick of flavour.” — Chef Sylvain

Chef Swee San of Sweet Spot, who is an alumni of Le Cordon Bleu’s French pastry program, also agrees on the popularity of butter in France. She recalls the movie on Julia Child and its copious use of butter in cooking. When stir-frying with this ingredient, she recommends speeding things up as butter burns quickly .

Using butter in Raya kuih

butter, kuih raya

Examples of Raya kuih. Pic credit: MyMiniWeb

Chef Stephane, who cooks Malay food at home for his family, also has experience with using butter in local cuisine. ” A friend of mine who bakes and sells 1,000 Raya cookies asked me for ways to make the cookies taste better. I suggested to her to replace margarine with butter. She tried it but didn’t like the results, so she changed up her recipe a little by using half butter and half margarine. Also, cream can be used to make reductions with local fruits and vegetable,” he suggests, noting that butter gives cookies a whole different taste and texture.

A handy baking tip!

“If you’ve not baked before and you want to make a layered cake, you don’t have to bake a whole cake and then cut it into a few layers. You can just make it on one big sheet and cut out the shapes, then stack them up. You’ll find that the layers are all even and the baking time is also shortened – your cake will also stay moist for longer,” Swee San enthuses.

Bespoke flower cake made by Swee San. Cakes like this one can sometimes take up to a week to complete!

To find the real delicacies of each country is to go to their markets. It’s where the heart is – and where you can also see the culture of the nation. — Chef Debbie Teoh, a renowned Nyonya chef