Most Malaysians would agree that the country’s pride and joy is its unique cuisine. No matter how much you love international cuisines, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself craving for a little spicy taste of home.
And it was this desire for home-cooked Malaysian food that drove Low Bee Yinn, or simply Bee as she prefers to be called, into picking up the wok and spatula and cooking up her own storm in the kitchen.
A somewhat cash strapped university student when she first started, Bee has accomplished much since she first started her food blog, Rasa Malaysia back in 2006.
Rasa Malaysia has since grown in prominence with some four million online fans.
In addition to being a prolific food blogger, Bee has also authored a cookbook, “Easy Chinese Recipes”, that has been a bestseller on Amazon.
Currently based in the US, she has also been featured in The New York Times, Lonely Planet, Mashable and The Huffington Post.
Despite her international acclaim, Bee has never forgotten her humble roots, and when contacted by FMT Lifestyle, she was willing to share how life has brought her to where she is today and what lies ahead for her and Rasa Malaysia.
“I was a poor university student and was constantly craving my family’s home cooked meals and the foods of my hometown, Penang. I had to learn to make them myself,” she explained.
It was not a skill she learnt overnight of course, and it took quite a bit of effort to learn the ins and outs of the kitchen.
Asked if anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge or lack of, can be a good cook, Bee answered in the affirmative.
“Practise makes perfect,” she said. “Learn the basic techniques, skills and eventually you will be a great cook.”
For people uncertain about their culinary abilities, she assures that the recipes on Rasa Malaysia are easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients.
She is not a chef, she insists, but rather a home cook.
She explains that as a young girl, she was captivated by the way her late grandmother, mother and aunt cooked. “I was always intrigued and mesmerised by their cooking skills,” she said, adding that despite her interest, she was not allowed to cook back then.
The skill would later be acquired, however, while she was in the US studying for her Master’s Degree.
Rasa Malaysia was first started in 2006, when blogging was still in its infancy.
“There was a niche to be filled and I am passionate about promoting the delicious cuisine of Malaysia to the world.”
The blog started off small, and it was only a hobby and passion project for Bee who had a full-time job as MySpace’s International Development Director.
But Rasa Malaysia took off with a bang, meeting with huge success, something Bee never anticipated. Today, it is still a thriving business.
Upon visiting Rasa Malaysia, one might think that the beautiful photographs that accompany the recipes are taken by a professional.
In reality, Bee revealed that she takes own photographs, and that too, like her cooking skills, was self-taught.
A Malaysian at heart, Bee makes no secret that she is proud of the country’s cuisine, telling her friends and fans that nothing compares to it.
“Nowhere in the world can you find foods so colourful, with flavour structures unlike any other cuisines.”
Eating Malaysian food, she says, gives her an unparalleled feeling of gratification and satisfaction.
“No other cuisine or Michelin-star meals give me the same kind of satisfaction. This is very unique to Malaysian cuisine; it truly sets it apart from others.”
Bee admits Malaysian food takes longer to prepare and cook compared to Western food. Even so, it is no more difficult to cook Malaysian delicacies than Western cuisine.
“Malaysian food has complex layers of flavours and takes meticulous effort to prepare. However, the end result is always so worth it.”
She sometimes has a little help in the kitchen, in the form of her young son. “I encourage him to help me to prepare, but he is mostly interested in playing with the ingredients now.”
In a surprising answer to who her culinary idols are, she says that it is the hawkers and street vendors of Malaysia who command her respect the most.
“They prepare the best street hawker food in the world. No chefs come close to these unsung heroes for preserving Malaysia’s culinary culture and heritage.”
Bee’s career has taken her places. She has appeared on television numerous times and demonstrated her cooking skills in front of live audiences.
“It is truly a humbling journey,” she said.
It has not been an easy one either as she’s faced her fair share of challenges. Despite this, she has soldiered on.
As for future plans, Bee intends on improving Rasa Malaysia’s video library and including video recipes on her blog.
She also intends to travel for a bit, to explore what the world has to offer in terms of food.
Her heart is still very much in Malaysia though. “I plan to retire in Malaysia one day; it will be forever my home and my roots.”
Check out Bee’s easy and delicious recipes at Rasa Malaysia and subscribe to her newsletter for the latest updates.