I want to tell you all the reasons I love Jilat Jilat’s Malaysian chicken curry pie with salted duck egg. I’ll start with how bloody delicious it is, move onto its structural integrity and conclude with some observations about culinary fusions.
The first bite is a revelation. The pastry is crunchy and extravagantly buttery. Inside is the best kind of Malaysian curry – one so rich and savoury the only people who couldn’t enjoy it are those with an aversion to meat or nihilists who refuse to enjoy anything.
The second bite is even better. You get the same crunchy, gooey pastry and curry spiked with duck egg, but then you take the plunge and dip it into a pool of chicken gravy. That’s right – each pie is served not with a side salad, but with a ramekin of chicken gravy.
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The thought of adding chicken gravy to a chicken curry pie probably seems excessive. Why would you add honey to a scoop of caramel gelato? Well, it turns out there seems to be no limit to how much umami you can jam into something and it still be enjoyable.
Usually when you bite into a pie or cut one open, it’s a constant battle to keep the insides inside. Not so here. Remarkably, you can hold the Malaysian chicken curry pie in one hand without any risk of spills. This is a testament to the pastry skills of chef Mark Tok, who has more than 20 years’ experience.
I love meat pies, but the truly excellent ones are rare. I think pies, like hotdogs, suffer because they’re considered “cheap junk food”. The ones you grab around Sydney are mostly simple and utterly not gourmet – which, to be fair, is what many people like about them.
Not me though: I want a pie made fresh that morning, not one that’s been defrosted. I want the pastry to be full of good-quality butter, and I want the filling to be decent enough to eat on its own. And there aren’t that many places that do that.
Here’s another thing I love: fusion food. Especially when it comes about organically or by accident. That’s how most great foods are created. Take laksa: the dish is believed to have been created when Chinese traders introduced noodle soups to what is now the coast of Malaysia. Locals transformed them using local ingredients.
That’s what excites me about Australia’s culinary future – the infinite possibilities. Cultures, ingredients and recipes will continue to come together and transform under each other’s influence. So, some of you may eat Jilat Jilat’s Malaysian curry pie and think it’s delicious. Others may think it’s challengingly rich. But I look at it and think the future is delicious.
“I Can't Stop Thinking About” is a series about Sydney dishes Broadsheet Sydney editors are obsessed with.