Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen: Flavors with a World of Possibilities
I gotta be honest: I enjoy cooking, I do it all the time, but it still intimidates the crap out of me. I’ve been cooking a lot more this year, and yet every time I go to cook dinner, I’m struck with imposter syndrome, as though I haven’t already made a hundred meals this year.
In coping with this performance anxiety, I’ve been on the lookout for inspiration, trying to mix things up in the kitchen. Which led to me discovering Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen through an article in New York Magazine about the 52 Best Canned Goods Chefs Keep in Their Pantries.
Y’all, I was immediately blown away by Auria’s sambal, which has quickly become a pantry staple (as anticipated). Bursting with flavor, sambal is a popular condiment in Malaysia with fresh chilies as its base. I couldn’t believe I’d been missing out on this deliciousness for the past 23 years!
First Impressions: Simple Ingredients, Complex Flavors
Auria learned to cook from her mother, so you know these recipes are the real deal. As I opened the jars and took in the luscious, layered smells, I reminisced on my own experiences in the kitchen with a stool next to my mom, watching her mix concoctions and create edible magic. But before I get lost in memories, let’s get into the details of these delicious finds and how you can use them in your daily cooking.
Experiences: Rich Flavors That’ll Spice Up Any Meal
- This sambal has a pleasant (but strong) kick balanced out by the fermented shrimp paste, which gives it a distinct umami flavor. You can use it in stir-fries, on sandwiches, and in stews for a flavor boost or simply add it to some over easy eggs like my fiance — he says it’s the perfect amount of spice to wake him up in the morning. I want to take a moment and toot Auria’s horn over using real fermented shrimp paste (unlike most other sambals out there), which shows her deep commitment to authenticity and quality. Note: start off using a little at a time until you get accustomed to the heat level. Accustomed to classic midwest cooking, I’m still working my way up.
- For those of y’all who aren’t all about the spice, this sambal is much milder but equally packed with flavor. The lime leaf adds a nice tang to the mellow heat. I’ve found it to be extremely adaptable, throwing it in pasta dishes, using it as salad dressing, and even putting it out as a dip during football games. I’m not even kidding when I say it’s been a bigger hit than the salsa! This one will earn you immediate bonus points with your foodie friends, trust me.
- If y’all know anything about me, it’s that I’m a low-key coffee addict, so when I heard you could use the kaya to make a Vietnamese coffee, I was all about it. The flavor is something you really have to try to understand, but it’s truly a work of art. Packed with herby, sweet notes, it’s unlike anything I’ve found in other sweet sauces or dressings. It’s also been a pleasant afternoon snack slathered on a piece of toast (the traditional way) or a rice cake (if I’m being “healthy” that day). Made with coconut milk, I feel less guilty eating this creamy treat than my typical cream cheese or nutella. Oh, and it’s also great for dipping fruit in!
- This Salted Caramel Kaya is a fast-track to food heaven. I love to drizzle it on vanilla ice cream or mix it into my yogurt parfaits when I’m in a #treatyoself kind of mood. Honestly, it’s so good, I eat it right out of the container. I have about a quarter of the jar left because I simply can’t stop. I should be a little ashamed, but I’m not. If you try it, you’ll understand.
Cost/Value: Totally worth it!
Auria’s four staple products are each around $10 a jar, which is a steal compared to how much I’ve dropped at Whole Foods for overhyped sauces that totally underdeliver. Each sauce/condiment has its own distinct flavor, so you can reach for whatever strikes your fancy in the moment. They’re honestly all good enough to eat by themselves so there’s really no going wrong!
Takeaway: New Flavors for a World of Possibility
Beyond introducing me to totally new flavors and dishes, Auria’s products have also made my classic, go-to dishes even better. I’ve started pairing her kaya with French toast on the weekends, and my friends can’t get enough of it. By simply adding her sambal to a stir-fry or using it as a marinade, I don’t have to worry about meals having enough flavor, which is a huge relief. If you’re like me and getting burnt out on cooking at home, Auria’s products may be exactly what you need to breathe new life into your cooking!