Local spice route
The port city of Malacca in Malaysia has faded from its 16th-century spice trade glory. But as I wandered its streets recently with Lucia Cleveland, a modern-day spice hunter (and founder of the company by that name), we came across many seasonings still to be discovered by adventurous cooks, and others ― such as tangy tamarind ― that are already in Western markets.
At lunch that day in the Seri Nyonya Peranakan Restaurant, Florence Tan served shrimp in a very easy, glossy brown sauce based on tamarind. It makes as delectable a dish for this century as for any in the past.