Friday, 9 January 2015

Dinner by Ping Coombes

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I will confess, I have never watched Masterchef in my life, which wasn't at all embarrassing when 2014's winner was about to cook dinner for me.

Ping Coombes, the Masterchef Champion, teamed up with Malaysia Kitchen; the body Malaysian Food in the UK, to cook up a Malaysian feast.

Never having had Malaysian food either, I headed down to the quirky cookery school, Food at 52 on Old Street for a night of firsts.

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We started by concocting an array of juices with every type of fruit and syrup at our disposal. You'd think after drinking so many cocktails in my time, I might have an idea of what goes well together. Did I? Are you kidding me?

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I did manage to make this beautiful creation though whilst chatting to the small group.

After a while Ping came up to say hi and introduce herself. She also requested our help. I'm not sure my culinary skills would be much use to a Masterchef winner but if your sure...

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Ping needed help constructing the Prawn Dumplings and Prawn and Chicken Siu Mai, as she was planning to make a lot, and as it turns out, it is rather time consuming.

Rather comically in the middle of showing us how to fold the dumplings the smoke alarm went off. I think this might be why my dumplings didn't look so great in the end. I blame the smoke alarm.

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Fill those little floury wrappers with the meat and fold in an arty fashion. Technical term.

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The best one I made.

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Ta da!

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A little while later they had been steamed and were ready to be devoured. Completely moreish.

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We then proceeded to make our way back to the dinner table and get ready for our Malaysian feast we could see being cooked next to us.

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We started with Glazed Teriyaki Chicken Hearts, which before you say eww! Were actually delicious. If I had to say they tasted like something, I'd probably say Gammon. And I love Gammon, so it was a winner.

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Now this rather crispy pile is in fact deep soft shell crab. Whole Crabs. Can you see?

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I soon could.

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We also had Kangkung Fritters. Kangkung, also called water spinach in English or the delightful Chinese name of Swamp Cabbage is a semi-aquatic plant which leaves are used as a vegetable. Fried in spiced batter, it was a tasty little snack, you could easily just pop in your mouth.

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Now if you are a MasterChef fan then you should recognise this dish. This is Nasi Lemak (With the rice served separately). It is the main course that Ping won MasterChef with.

Nasi Lemak is a coconut rice dish served with various sides including fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, a hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce called sambal.

Apart from the anchovies, which I don't like, I can see why it was a winning dish. The flavours just compliment each other so well, and that runny yolk texture was fantastic.

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Not to end there though, we also sampled Beef Rendang, one of Malaysia's signature dishes. If you fancy trying Malaysian cuisine and you want to make sure you get that authentic taste, opt for the Beef Rendang. Not only is it something Malaysians eat regularly, but it also tastes darn good. This I liked alot.

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Of course I couldn't resist chicken on the bone. Cooked in coconut milk, lemon, and spices, it was a refreshing dish in comparison to the very spicy sambal and rendang.

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Finally if that wasn't enough we ended on what only can be described as a beautiful cheesecake. It was honestly one of the best cheesecakes I've had. Mandarin and Ginger, it was sweet, sharp and again had that refreshing quality to it.

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Ping Coombes is such a talented chef and I'm honoured to have been cooked for by her.

If you fancy trying Malaysian food, which I recommend you do, the Malaysian Kitchen lists all the Malaysian Restaurants in the UK, from anywhere like Hull to Bournemouth. 


  1. Looks like a great way to spend an evening! I went to Malaysia a few years ago and loved the food. So much so that I've not really eaten it much since I've come back - I'm not sure it could ever compare!

  2. Ooh you lucky thing, I love Master chef, Ping was such a sweetie on it. Not sure about the pig hearts though, I'll take your word for it on the gammon!! :)

  3. What a fantastic opportunity. The food looks amazing and I love that you got to take part a little bit too!

  4. This sounds like a brilliant experience! :) All those dishes look delicious! I'd love to try new cuisine like this!


  5. Cocktails in jars will never get old for me. They're so beautiful! Looks and sounds like a fabulous experience!

    Katie <3

  6. I need to stop reading your blog when I'm in bed. I'm lying here wondering what food I can eat that looks as good as that! Yum!

    Anoushka xx

  7. So jealous that Ping cooked for you Laura! Big Malaysian pride that she won Masterchef last year, and I'm so pleased Malaysian food is becoming more well known in London as a result :) her nasi lemak does look very good and bless all of you for trying your hand at making siu mai! xx


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