Laksa and lemongrass: a tasty Malaysian cooking class

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Azalina was all smiles. Originally from Malaysia, this spunky chef is now part of the incubator cooking program at La Cocina. He taught a Malaysian street food cooking class this week, which Sam Love and I felt very lucky to be a part of. We visited Malaysia a few years ago and fell in love with the wonderful street food that filled each and every corner with exotic smells. As soon as we entered the kitchen at La Cocina, those smells came right at us -- garlic, ginger, chilies, and lemongrass ready to be chopped and roasted and blended into our evening meal.

We spent a large part of the class learning how to make fresh wheat noodles to put in laksa soup, dyed a beautiful orange color with turmeric. Everyone got a turn at rolling and slicing the noodles into thin strips, which were then placed into little mounds that looked like upside-down bird nests. Malaysian food is influenced by Chinese and Indian cooking, while still keeping its own distinctive cooking techniques using caramelized shrimp in palm sugar and garnishing the soup with deep fried tempeh. If you didn't get a chance to make it to the class, Azalina sells her Malay food products at Bi-Rite (like her amazing coconut jam, which we got to try, drizzled atop fried banana fritters) and she's also whipping up Malaysian street food every Friday night at Fort Mason for Off the Grid.