Food & Drinks

MasterChef UK judge skewered on Twitter for telling Malaysian contestant her chicken rendang should have been ‘crispy’

Here’s a fact: chicken is cooked in curry sauce, not fried, and is never crispy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 7:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 7:30pm

Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting the chicken in a Malaysian contestant’s rendang curry should have been crispy.

Foodies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have taken to social media to vent at the critique of the Malaysian-born cook’s traditional and standard method for preparing chicken rendang.

“The skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten but all the sauce is on the skin I can’t eat,” one of the MasterChef UK judges complained in a recent episode of the show.

Online, Southeast Asians pointed out that the chicken is cooked in curry sauce, not fried, and is never crispy.

Some accused the judges of neo-colonial attitudes and racism.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also chipped in, posting a photo of chicken rendang on Twitter and lightheartedly asking whether anyone has ever eaten a crispy chicken curry.

The contestant, Zaleha Kadir Olpin, was eliminated from the competition but took to Instagram to vow she’d never stop cooking the traditional way.

Her offending rendang was presented as part of Malaysia’s national dish, Nasi Lemak, or rice cooked in coconut milk that comes with sides such as peanuts, spicy prawns and rendang.

The judges lavished praise on most of the ingredients but dismissed the non-crispy chicken rendang as a “mistake”.

One of the judges, John Torode riled Malaysians even more by suggesting on Twitter that chicken rendang was from neighbouring Indonesia, and ending his tweet with “namaste”, an Indian greeting.

“Maybe Rendang is Indonesian !! Love this !! Brilliant how excited you are all getting ... Namaste,” he wrote.

Britain’s ambassador in Malaysia, Vicki Treadell, joined the fray, perhaps not surprisingly coming out diplomatically on the side of her hosts.

“Rendang is an iconic Malaysian national dish not to be confused with Indonesian options ... It is never crispy and should also not be confused with the fried chicken sometimes served with nasi lemak,” she said.

The curry, which originates from West Sumatra in Indonesia, is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and southern Thailand.