Discover the intricacies of Terengganu’s Malay cuisine from Tanjong Jara Resort’s Chef Ann
Discover the intricacies of Terengganu’s Malay cuisine from Tanjong Jara Resort’s Chef Ann during a tour of her daily stomping ground, the bustling Dungun Market.
Dungun, a peaceful seaside town with an active fishing industry, has a charming laid-back vibe. Chef Ann, who was born here, has worked at Tanjong Jara Resort since 1999. She visits the market every morning, and if resort guests want to follow her on a specially guided tour, she will gamely bring them along. “This is where the locals come,” she offers, with a smile.
The market hums gently with activity, and Chef Ann heads straight to the wet market section, where stall owners greet her warmly. Tables are piled high with a rainbow of shimmering ocean catch. There is a brightly hued red snapper, tigerstriped mackerel, a palm-sized shiny silver mirror fish, tiny slipper lobsters and a massive 15kg stingray. Fishmongers do brisk business, and are busy gutting and filleting for waiting customers.
Chef Ann is in her element amid the clamour as she moves from stall to stall, while offering guests tips on selecting the best seafood for specific dishes. “Tuna is popular with locals in the form of curry or sambal,” she explains. Parrotfish, she says, is sweet and has soft flesh. Stingray is best for curries and barbecues. Shark is mostly good for curry, while burgundy-toned blocks of roe are tasty when deep-fried with garlic.
Dungun market is also popular for its delicious food and snacks. Some of the fare is unique to Malaysia like apam balik – peanut turnover pancake – and other varieties of local desserts or kuih.
Back at the resort, Chef Ann works out of the Di Atas Sungei restaurant. Here, she and her kitchen team prepare the dishes from the marketto-table menu that very day.
Always a repository of information, the goodhumoured chef enthusiastically explains the differences between rendang and assam to diners new to these styles of Malay cuisine. “I’m always happy to prepare dishes the ways guests prefer,” she says.
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THE MARKET HUMS GENTLY WITH ACTIVITY, AND CHEF ANN HEADS STRAIGHT TO THE WET MARKET SECTION, WHERE STALL OWNERS GREET HER WARMLY.