Anyone who has been following my Instagram account will know that I’ve been on an eating rampage for the past few weeks. This tends to happen whenever I visit home after living abroad for most of the year, as Malaysian food is my favourite cuisine and I miss it terribly whenever I’m away. I therefore overcompensate for the rest of the year whenever I’m back home, resulting in a huge food fest for about 2 weeks every year.
As I do so love to share and introduce friends and strangers alike to the wonders of Malaysian food, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to the above. An alternative title to this post could be, “What Jules ate over the last 2 weeks”.
I have split the food into various categories, based on cultural origin of each dish. For those unfamiliar with Malaysian culture, there exists three main ethnic races in Malaysia – Malays, Chinese and Indians – all three cultures of which are reflected in the large range of food we classify as Malaysian cuisine.
Nasi lemak, the unofficial national dish. Rice steamed with coconut milk is served with crispy chicken, sambal (spicy chilli paste), cucumber, hard boiled eggs, peanuts and fried anchovies. The chicken is sometimes substituted with meat rendang.
Chicken and beef satay. Marinated meat is burnt / grilled, then dipped in a peanut sauce and eaten.
Mee goreng or fried noodles. Noodles are often fried with vegetables, tofu, sambal, eggs and sometimes meat. This particular version from Penang included cuttlefish.
Roti prata with tandoori chicken and some dhal on the side.
Roti pisang. Essentially fried flatbread with bananas.
Fish head curry. Exactly like it sounds with the addition of other vegetables such as okra, potatoes as well as tomatoes.
Asam laksa. Not strictly chinese, but a blend of chinese and malay. White rice noodles in spicy soup (cooked with tamarind) filled with fish, lettuce, cucumber, onions, mint and chilli. The sauce on the side is thick, sweet prawn paste.
Chinese steamboat or hotpot. Thin slices of meat, leafy veg, eggs, mushrooms and seafood are continuously added and cooked in a pot of boiling broth as you eat.
Fishball noodle soup. Simple and healthy. Best eaten with frersh green chilli in soy sauce.
Dry curry mee with chicken
Char koay teow. Wok fried noodles, bean sprouts, prawns, cockles and egg. My favourite Malaysian dish.
Pan mee. Flat noodles with minced pork, poached egg and fried anchovies.
Teo Chew cendol. Dessert comprising shaved ice, coconut milk, gula melaka (liquid palm sugar), green starched pandan flavoured noodles and red beans.
Chinese Malaysian – Ipoh Specialties
After my short weekend trip to Penang, I made an impromptu visit to another town called Ipoh, located on the way to Penang from Kuala Lumpur, just a 2 hour drive away. The purpose of my visit was to visit family, which meant that there was a lot of eating to be done as that is how my family (and I daresay most other Malaysian families!) like to show their hospitality.
I wasn’t complaining though, as Ipoh, like Penang, also offers some very famous local specialties that people will drive up from KL for the day just to eat.
Yee sang (shown here unmixed), traditionally eaten around Chinese New Year time. Not specially from Ipoh but I’ve added it to this category as that’s where I ate it. This is a Teochew-style raw fish salad (normally salmon). It is a symbol of abundance and prosperity.
Ipoh prawn mee. A mixture of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli is served in a soup made from prawns, kangkong (a type of vegetable), eggs and chilli. A little sweet and fairly nutty.
Sotong kangkong. This was a new one for me. Cuttlefish salad with kangkong in a spicy peanut sauce.
Ipoh lou shu fun or “rat’s tail noodles” (so called because of the shape of the noodles). It comes with minced pork, fish balls, pork liver, pork intestines, fried shallots and spring onions.
Ipoh white coffee. Famous all around Malaysia, the coffee beans are roasted with palm-oil margarine (hence the “white” in name), with condensed milk added to the coffee. Better than any Starbucks coffee you can get.
Ipoh soya bean pudding road side stall
Ipoh tau fu fa or soya bean pudding. Silky soft tofu in sugar syrup infused with ginger.
Rambutans. Looks weird but cut open to reveal sweet flesh surrounding a nut-like seed.
Duku langsat. Easier to open than a rambutan but what you get in the flesh can either be sweet or sour. The seed is bitter (and annoyingly easy to mistakenly bite into).
Mangoes. Needs no introduction! One of my favourite fruits!
Durian aka “King of the Fruits”. It’s like Marmite, either you love it or you hate it. Can be smelt a mile away. I love this stuff and can eat bucket loads of it.
Mangosteen. For some reason called the “Queen of the Fruits” though I have no idea why.
Coconut jelly. Technically not a fruit but hey! Take a baby coconut, scrape the coconut flesh out and suspend in coconut jelly made from the coconut water et voila, a cooling, tropical dessert!
With everything tasting so good, it’s no surprise that I tend to leave Malaysia with a few additional kilos on me annually!
Have you tried Malaysian food? What did you think of it?