Condiments and Spices

Asam Gelugor

Sliced tamarind or tamarind skin, it is not tamarind but dried slices of a Malaysian fruit related to the mangosteen which looks like minature pumpkin with a glossy skin. Asam gelugor is light brown when fresh and darken with age. Used to give a subtle sour taste to various foods, tamarind maybe used as a substitute but lacks the fruty flavor.

Banana Leaf

Banana leaf used as a wrapper imparts a special flavor to the food cooked in it. Soak leaf in hot water or over flame to soften. Sunning it could also help to release its flavor and render it less likely to break.

Candle Nuts

Candle nut is raw in a hard shell and is toxic. It is used mostly in fresh spice paste in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The taste is subtle and when use as a thickener, maybe replaced with other nuts such as macademia or cashew. Usually sold shelled.


A speciality of Malacca. This pinkish shrimp fry is preserved with salt and rice and is used in making sauces and salads. Various forms exist throughout Southeast Asia.

Curry Leaves

This small tree of the citrus family was introduced by the South Indians to Southeast Asia. The edible leaf adds an unique flavor to many South Indian curries. Use only fresh leaves as the strong distinct fragrance is absent in dried leaves.


Widely used in Asia and especially important in the Chinese kitchen where it is often coupled with spring onion in stir fry dishes. The skin need not be peeled but all dried out bits should be removed. Older ginger is hotter and more fibrous than younger ones.


Yet another ginger of Southeast Asian origin, it has a pungent taste and should be used sparingly. Often used coupled with lemon grass in spice paste, soups and curries. If root is old and fibrous, do not add it to ground spice mix but just crush and use whole. Store well in the freezer. Also known as laos, lengkuas, kha or greater galangal. Young shoots are also eaten.

Ikan Bilis

Also known as Anchovies. A small dried fish used in various dishes both as an ingredient and as a flavoring. To use, remove heads and guts which tend to be bitter. Sometimes made into a powder. Pre-peeled is preferable whenever available.

Laksa Leaf

A tropical herb with a strong fragrant which grows wild in wet places. It is so named as it is an important ingredient in a Singapore curry noodle dish known as Laksa. It is also widely used in Malaysia, where it is known as daun kesom.


A grass with a bulbous base that has a nice fragrant known in Malay as Serai. Only the tender base is used in Southeast Asia, either ground in spice paste or bruised and used whole in soup and curries. If the grass is old and fibrous, do not grind but use whole crushed. Store well in the freezer. The leaves which we usually discard are used by Maxicans to make a lovely tea.

Lime Leaf

Not particularly juicy, it is the highly aromatic fruit rind and the leaf that are much valued. The rind is widely used in Thailand in spice paste while the leaves are popular in IndoMalay cooking. The Thais often use the leaves shredded but elsewhere in Southeast Asia they are mostly used whole and not eaten as the taste is deemed much too strong.

Pandan Leaf

Long thin fragrant leaves popularly used in desserts, soups and rice. It give food that special fragrance that you'll never do without once you get to know it. Leaves from a large variety are used in Malaysia as wrapper for rice dumplings. Also known as Frangrant Screwpine.

Dried Shrimp

Has a present smell and does not contain shells. Good for the base of cooking. Avoid overly red ones as they are dyed.


Those used in Southeast Asia are maroonish in color and small ideal for deep frying. Replacable by small onions, those with a stronger flavor are preferable. May be sprouted to use as spring onions.


A dried shrimp paste. One of the special ingredients that gives Southeast Asian cuisine its very special flavor. It is strong smelling, a little wet and saltish. Watch the amount of salt used in recipes that also require the use of belacan. Toast over fire on both sides to release its special aroma before use. Powdered ready to use type is also available. Keep well without refrigeration for months. The lighter pinkish type is not used for making sambal belacan.

Star Anise

A pungent spice, it is usually used whole and remove before serving. Use sparingly as it could give an undesirable bitter flavor. Native to China, it's a major ingredient in five spice powder.


A root of the ginger family sometimes called yellow ginger, it's what gives curry it's distinct yellow color and a major ingredient in Asian spice mix. Handle with gloves to prevent stain. Powder form is widely used.

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Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine

2608 Nicollet Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN 55408

Phone: 612-871-8282

Fax: 612-871-2863

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Sun - Thurs: 11 AM - 10 PM (Closed Tue)

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News from us

Chinese New Year ...January 26, 2014
Malaysian ...January 10, 2014