Mak Tok Is Malay For Grandmother
And it was a kind hearted lady, known as Mak Tok to her grandchildren, who helped me on my quest to make the perfect chilli paste, and because I’m forever in her debt, I’ve named my pastes in her honour.
Student Life was Pots of Noodles
Fast forward to 2014 when I came to Sheffield for my postgraduate studies. Growing up eating many amazing home-cooked Malaysian food, it was only natural that after my family, the thing I missed most, was home-cooking. I spent many happy hours in the kitchen cooking, watched by my Pot Noodle eating fellow students (who, although few of them cooked, were always happy to sample what I’d made).
There was one thing missing though from my cooking, something that adds so much flavour and is such an integral part of many Malaysian dishes, and that was a really top notch, authentic chilli paste, and so my quest began.
The first thing I did was pinch my mum’s recipe. Well I figured her chilli paste was the best I’d ever tasted, and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel is there? I’d had several attempts at following her recipe, but there was something that wasn’t quite right, and through a process of elimination I decided it was the anchovies that were letting the side down.
Mak Tok to the Rescue
Now around this time I was in touch with Mak Tok, a lovely, kind older lady who I’d met when I’d taught her grandson music. When she heard me bemoaning the lack of quality anchovies for my chilli paste, she sent me some superb quality ones, right to my door here in Sheffield.
I immediately made some chilli paste and invited a group of friends to come and try it. It was an instant hit with everyone. It was then Shang who encouraged me to turn my paste-making into a business, and so Mak Tok’s chilli pastes were born.