Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on news you need to know.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — In France, importance is placed on the eating of quality food produced locally to support their own farmers and fishermen.
As France promotes family farming, products identified by their geographical origin are prized by the French who are even willing to pay more for that product when they know its origins.
French Ambassador to Malaysia Frederic Laplanche explained, "France believes in natural capital. Appreciating local produce is a way of creating durable economic and social well-being."
At the recent "Proudly Malaysian French Cuisine" lunch hosted by Laplanche, he paid tribute to Malaysian farmers and fishermen by showcasing a total of 14 local ingredients.
The idea for this meal came about when Laplanche realised there's a lack of much needed support for local products, when his friends told him, they preferred imported Thai rice over locally farmed Kedah rice.
He explained, "It is a privilege to live in Malaysia where so many great farmers, breeders and fishermen provide wonderful products to us. All Malaysians can be proud of their agriculture."
The lunch was also attended by the Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub and Deputy Minister Sim Tze Tzin.
In addition, Sim also explained in an interview that Malaysians should support local agricultural producers. "We should have pride and confidence of our produce as it is equal to or better than overseas."
He also hoped that we can follow France's example. "We need to work on making agriculture great just like in France."
The lunch was cooked by the executive chef to the French Ambassador, Julien Bartement. Originally from Burgundy, Bartement has a keen appreciation for local ingredients since he moved to Malaysia to study and work.
He added, "We try to source local products for our daily operations here in order to reduce our carbon footprint."
For the lunch, he searched for the 'best of the best' local ingredients from Sarawak to Johor. "It is very important to me because I want to showcase that with local products, it is possible to make great gastronomic French-style cuisine," he said.
Starting off the lunch was a decadent spoonful of T'lur Caviar, produced right here in Tanjung Malim.
Bartement chose to serve these luxurious eggs on its own, to showcase their quality. Normally associated with Russia, Iran and even China producers, these tiny black eggs are farmed from sturgeon fish bred in Malaysia.
As sturgeon is usually bred in cold water climates, it's a feat that the fish has thrived in our tropical climate.
Since its introduction to the market, the tropical caviar is now served at the tables of DC Restaurant and Entier French Dining.
The next course was a tribute to the bounty from the sea and rivers. Using tiger prawns from Pahang and freshwater langoustine from Sarawak, this was served with a classic bisque made from wild crabs sourced from Sabah.
The main course brings together the prized wild Empurau from the Rajang river, pomelo from Tambun, rice from Kedah and organic vegetables from Cameron and Genting Highlands.
The Empurau is known as the "king of Malaysian fish"; the wild variety feeds on fruits by jumping from the river!
Nicknamed "The Unforgettable" or Wang Bu Liao in Chinese, the fish is usually served steamed but Bartement decided to be daring and slow cook it with pomelo skin and sacs!
As the fish scales are usually deep fried and served together, he also retained the skin with the scales to give the dish a crunchy contrast.
Dessert celebrated artisanal chocolate maker Chocolate Concierge's single origin chocolate in different forms.
On the surface, it was just a light, airy chocolate mousse but as one dug into the dessert, one discovered chocolate sponge cake followed with a layer of chocolate. Also within the ensemble, chocolate pearls gave the dessert a contrast of texture.
Chocolate Concierge was started by Ong Ning-Geng who uses Malaysian cacao beans to produce their fine chocolates.
The company also works with the Orang Asli, buying wild cocoa pods to give them a better livelihood.
You can find their products sold in Bangsar and gracing tables of restaurants the likes of Dewakan and Michelin-starred Nouri in Singapore.
Each bite of the decadent chocolate dessert was enhanced with a creamy sauce which used vanilla beans sourced from Vanilla Temerloh. We are familiar with vanilla from Madagascar but yes, it's also possible to get vanilla in Malaysia!
This farm located in Pahang was started back in 2008 by former journalist M. Feisal Norawi (Feisal), with only 200 trees.
After much self-research and just when he was about to give up, the trees started to flower after six years (the usual duration is three years). Between 2008 to 2017, they produced around 89 kilograms of vanilla, which attracted buyers from the US, France and Germany.
Since 2017, he has added 2,500 trees and expects to add another 1,500 trees in stages. With much interest in vanilla as a business since it can command from RM1,400 to RM2,000 per kilogram, Feisal also gives seminars to interested farmers.
For more information on the producers featured at the lunch, visit the following: