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37. Dinner with a badminton pro!

Last night me and my husband went to have dinner with his friend, Aaron and his girlfriend. I knew that Aaron has had a high profile badminton career, but I didn’t know quite how much until I started talking to him yesterday!

He was the Brunei under 18’s champion for two years and he played for Malaysia! I know, amazing right?! His skills don’t just stop there, he cooked us some amazing Malaysian food last night too! He cooked delicious charred chicken noodles, squid, fish in a scrumptious sauce and rice with a chilli and anchovy paste. Not to mention the delicious chicken in a creamy sauce cooked by his girlfriend! I loved that! I was all ears while I chomped on the gorgeous food.

We learnt all about the best bits of fish to give to your guests in his culture and the bits that are considered rude to give. He couldn’t believe that we usually throw the head away!

His dad loves fishing so he is superstitious about flipping a fish. It could mean an upturned fishing boat, so whatever you do, don’t flip that fish!

Aaron and my husband have been thick as thieves this summer, bros if you will! For this reason, the plant I picked to take over with us for dinner was the ‘Bromelia‘ get it?

Of course, once my tummy was full, I fired every question I could think of at Aaron. Mind you, I thought of these questions while my husband popped into Sainsbury’s to buy dessert!

Aaron’s ready for my questions! 

So he started playing when he was 12 years old at a normal badminton club. His favourite moment so far in his badminton career was when he was 13 years old and he beat an 18 year old national player! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? He learnt a lot in a year and must have had a natural talent for badminton! From that spectacular performance he was picked up for nationals!

Here he is with Taufik Hidayat, former world and Olympic champion for men’s singles.

Aaron plays both singles and doubles, but prefers doubles because of the faster pace and the adrenaline rush.

I asked him what type of shot is his favourite. He said it’s a flat drive during a counter attack. His style is more defensive rather than attacking. He loves it when the opponent thinks they have him, but he turns it on them!

Of course I asked the all important question. What is more important to him – racket or shoes? He said shoes of course! If he had to choose one, it would definitely be shoes. Even if he borrowed a racket, he’d be OK!

I asked Aaron what he found most difficult to learn in badminton. He said the half smash for singles, fast drop shots for doubles, but especially spinning net shots. It’s so nice to know that he didn’t find everything easy and that even awesome badminton players like him found some shots difficult to learn. Maybe there’s hope for us all!

Here he is with Lee Chong Wei, the world no. 1 from 2008 to 2012!

Aaron’s worst injury to date has been a lower back one, which was from several months of repetitive overhead jump smash training in Malaysia. A mysterious bright blue injection and then a corrective injection and infra red light treatment later, his back is much better! He had to stop playing for a year though! Unfortunately he has had to adapt his overhead smash so that he doesn’t aggravate his back. The smash feels a lot slower to him now, but I bet his opponents would beg to differ!

There he is, doing the overhead jump smash!

When I asked Aaron what his biggest regret has been in his badminton career so far, he said it was his arrogance after winning championships. This meant he didn’t go to training and people began catching up with him. I found his honesty so refreshing!

I asked him what his tip would be for budding badminton players. Yep I wanted to know for myself, but for all of you too! He said, rather than waste time jogging on a treadmill to improve stamina, use that time practicing footwork on the court. That way you’ll be improving your stamina and your footwork! Makes perfect sense! Also, he said to practice your footwork fast, not slowly because if you practice it slowly, you can get stuck in quite a slow pace. Interesting! I will definitely treasure these useful nuggets!

After dinner, we moved over to the couch, where he showed us how to string a racket. My husband has been breaking rackets nearly every week since badminton season started!

Look at the concentration on Aaron’s face! His method was so cool. He strung it all by hand, then used his stringing machine to tighten the strings. I gave it a go too!

He has a signature move. Can you spot it on this racket?


He always leaves a space at the bottom. This is how you know that Aaron has strung the racket!

Interesting fact? He started playing tennis before he started playing badminton. Weather conditions got in the way so he moved over to badminton… and that is the story of the guy with many talents!

8 thoughts on “37. Dinner with a badminton pro!

  1. Cool! Now that you are friends with him you can play with him, heh heh. Use nay angle you can to play with better players because even though you’ll feel terribly embarrassed he’ll be nice about it and you can improve a lot.

    And my coach actually does the same thing with the strings! Usually another guy strings my rackets, but when my coach does, he also leaves that one line missing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha good idea! 🙂 I think he is happy to share his wisdom which is great! I’m already thinking about the footwork tip. At the moment in group coaching we practice our footwork quite slow which might be slowing me down.

    His coach taught him to string like that – apparently the missing string acts like a shock absorber.


    1. Hi, Thank you for having an interest in Malaysian Cuisine!

      Buttermilk chicken
      – deep fry any part of the chicken of your choice. I don’t suggest marinating the chicken with any seasoning besides pepper and a small pinch of salt.

      Depending on how much chicken you’re cooking, you will have to estimate how much of the buttermilk sauce you will like to make. For that night’s dinner, we used :

      1) 2 chicken breast fillets
      2) 4 table spoons of condensed milk
      3) 8 table spoons of evaporated milk
      4) 20 curry leaves
      5) 2 chilli padi.

      – pour 1 table spoon of sunflower oil into a frying pan at medium heat.
      – add curry leaves and chilli padi and stir until you see the curry leaves turn slightly brown .
      – add both evaporated and condensed milk into the pan.
      – add chicken and mix them all together.


      As for the steamed fish, salted egg fried squid, nasi lemak and charred fried noodles, I will have to write it somewhere else because of the following reason below.

      Fun fact :
      Most Malaysian dishes (as well as many other Asian countries) are not measured accurately as opposed to Western cooking. I believe western culture strive for consistency. However, as for asia, we mostly rely on estimation (we call this method of cooking, ‘agak-agak’). Hence, it is really difficult for me to tell you the exact amount as when we cook our dishes we just agak-agak. Dont worry, Gordon Ramsey was shocked too when he came to malaysia to learn malaysian cuisine. HAHA! Maybe i’ll start making videos on youtube so that interested people will have an idea roughly how it is done? haha

      Jumping Smash
      As for the jumping smash for badminton, there are few suggested training such as frog jumps, skipping ropes, jumping as high as you can on land and in swimming pool. I found that the most useful training is actually a combination of a frog jump and a jump.

      (1) So start off in a squatting position, then jump as high as you can. Do that 20 times x 3 sets.
      (2) The next one will be the opposite. Jump and in mid-air, bring your knees as close to your chest as possible (the same posture as whilst you were squatting). Do that 20 times x 3 sets.
      (3) Skipping Ropes – We used to do lots of these but for starters, to measure how much you can cope, start skipping and start counting how many you can do. Until you absolutely cant do anymore, that (number of skips) x 1.5 and that will be your target. Continue to do this at least twice a week, and by the end of 1 month it should be easy-peasy; that is when you increase it by another 1.5x for the next month!



      1. Oh my gosh, it was the squid that was salted egg not the chicken! Haha my bad! It was delicious!

        YouTube videos would be awesome! Then we can try to cook the same cuisine at home! I am going to try cooking buttermilk chicken. Love Malaysian food, I have always wanted to go to Malaysia, perfect excuse!

        I totally get ‘agak agak’ – our cuisine is similar. When I was learning from my mum she would put in a pinch of this and a bit of that. We call it ‘Andaaza,’ apparently you just know how much to use!

        I know lots of people who will really benefit from the jumping smash tips you’ve given. Not sure I am ready for this yet, hopefully at some point in the future!

        Thanks for such a detailed response! 🙂


  3. I remember that the chicken in the creamy sauce was called salted egg chicken. It was so good! Aaron will have to help me out with the names of the others, his secret recipes and tips on jumping that high!


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