In Brief

Masterchef: Malaysian viewers furious over ‘crispy’ rendang critique

Anger as judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace eliminate contestant over traditional dish

Masterchef has come under fire after a Malaysian-born contestant was eliminated from the BBC cookery show because her chicken dish wasn’t deemed crispy enough.

Zaleha Kadir Olpin left the competition after judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace criticised her chicken rendang.

“I like the rendang flavour, there’s a coconut sweetness,” Wallace said. “However, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin so I can’t eat it.”

However, the two judges came under intense scrutiny on social media after Malaysian viewers said chicken rendang is never meant to be served with crispy skin.

Even Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak joined in, asking: “Does anyone eat chicken rendang ‘crispy’?”

Olpin’s chicken rendang, a rich south-east Asian curry made by stewing meat in coconut milk and spices, was served as an accompaniment to nasi lemak, another “beloved Malaysian dish”, says the BBC

Olpin told the judges the dish had been one of her childhood favourites, saying: “There was a special stall outside my school that sold the best nasi lemak so I used to save up pocket money on Fridays.

“The dish is very special to me.”

Malaysian journalist and food writer Jahabar Sadiq told BBC News: “Crispy chicken? No. The meat has to be soft and that's a result of hours of cooking... Many people associate chicken with being fried but there is no craft, no skill.

“But this is chicken rendang, not KFC, so it all boils down to how the chef controls the spices and the flames.”

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