Homemade Sauces For Cooking Unique Malaysian Dishes

Author’s Blurb: Sauces tend to be one of the more technical and difficult aspects of cooking. Most would buy pre-packaged powders or pasta from brands like Brahim’s, where all you have to do is toss them with whatever veg or meat you’re cooking them with.

During the AGC, Basil realized that people actually liked to cook at home.

The most tedious part, however, was preparing the sauce to complete a dish. This was the inspiration to launch Saucelabmy.

But that was not his only reason for continuing this side adventure.

Saucing Up The Biz

During the lockdown, Basil’s cafe Mighty Monster was badly affected. He even had to close a point of sale.

He noticed that other cafes and restaurants had interesting menus and packages to accommodate and cater for those stuck at home.

Already having existing coffee sauces, Basil decided to sell them as another source of income to support his business and employees.

“We launched Saucelabmy in May using some of our existing sauces in our cafe menu and also created new flavors to offer a variety of sauces to our customers,” he said.

Although salted egg yolk and sambal belacan are familiar flavors to Malaysians, the brand also sells sauces unknown to the local market.

Some of them are beet hummus and salted miso caramel.

Some of the brand’s unique sauce flavors / Image Credit: Saucelabmy

Most Malaysians prefer to stick to proven flavor profiles and may not be the most adventurous in trying outrageous new flavors like these, which Basil agrees.

“We always give free samples to our customers when they order from us, and some also request them,” he said.

Customers would also have the option to try the products in bazaars, where they started selling as soon as the MCO was lifted.

It’s a bit like testing the flavors in an ice cream bar.

Their product line includes sauces for pasta, marinade, stir-frying, steaming and also dips / Image credit: Saucelabmy

“In our product line, we have sauces for pasta, or for marinating, stir-fries, steaming and also for dips,” Basil said.

Some of the weirder flavors got us wondering what we could use it for, like miso and salted caramel sauce, for example.

Basil explained, “People use it to baste their ice cream, pancakes, waffles or butter croissants. Some even use it in their 2-1 instant coffee!

Meanwhile, another of their most unique sauces, sambal mayonnaise, can be used as a spread on breads, wraps, or as a dip for cooked seafood.

When the cafe doors close

Orders for their sauces are compiled weekly and produced in the café’s in-house kitchen.

“We start our production after our cafe closes at 10 pm, and sometimes we finish work at 4 am,” Basil said.

The team’s sleepless nights paid off. In 5 months, Saucelabmy sold around 4000 jars, generating a turnover of 50,000 RM.

All of this was done without any form of marketing other than word of mouth on Facebook groups.

“The time we thought this business was really worth pursuing was when customers started to repeat their orders almost every week or two,” Basil said.

They’ve also received a lot of positive customer reviews, especially for their top seller, Basil Pesto (we’re not sure if that’s just a coincidence or a play on words).

“One of them even said it was better than any pesto she had in New York where she owned a restaurant,” he added.

Saucing Up The Biz

Other local brands have also approached Saucelabmy for a collaboration.

Actress Joanne Kam at Saucelabmy Bazaar / Image Credit: Saucelabmy

One of them was Malaysian Comedy Queen Joanne Kam, who turned to selling roast pork under the name Poh Poh’s Crack when the AGC affected her income as an artist.

“She uses our sauces to accompany her roast pork buns,” said Basil.

One of the main selling points the brand relies on is the fact that it does not use preservatives in products.

While Basil plans to keep it that way, it does raise a different issue that they’re working to address: shelf life.

Maintaining the quality of their sauces is one of his short-term goals.

“We also want to seek more collaborations with local startups and new startups that also started during the AGC, so that we can get through these difficult times together,” he added.

Their long term goal is to supply their products to cafes and restaurants, and eventually to be displayed on supermarket shelves.

Conclusion: I think Saucelabmy products are an easy way for home cooks to get more experimental without having to go out and buy a bunch of unique ingredients. Since it is difficult to enjoy eating out, I can also understand why Saucelabmy’s business took off during the pandemic.

  • You can read more about Saucelabmy here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Basil Tan, Founder of Saucelabmy

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Jothi Venkat

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