Malaysian food is a lot similar to Indonesian cuisine. The neighbouring countries have several recipes that are rather similar, and there have been debates on which of them came up with the original. But despite the similarities, dishes from either country have distinctive features, flavours, and ways to prepare.
Here’s a short list of some popular Malaysian dishes, most of them also found in Indonesia that food lovers and travellers should definitely try:
Your visit to Malaysia will be incomplete if you do not get to try satay, which is considered the country’s national dish. The composition of this dish closely resembles those of the Japanese yakitori, South African sosatie, and Turkish kebab. The Malaysian satay is sweeter though, and is usually served with different ingredients such as red onion and cucumber cut in wedges; or with ketupat, which is a kind of rice cake cooked in woven coconut leaves.
There are different variations of the satay sauce as well. The most common is the peanut satay, which is thicker and spicier compared to the Indonesian version. A yellowish powder derived from turmeric is also used to add flavour. The meat ingredient is marinated overnight in a special spice mix.
Apambalik is Malaysia’s own version of American pancakes. This sweet treat is a type of griddle cake filled with different ingredients. While regular pancakes are usually eaten with maple syrup, apambalik is stuffed with peanuts, sugar, and sprinkled with corn. You can buy apambalik from stalls throughout Malaysia. They come available in two textures: soft, crepe-like and crispy.
This Indian-influenced flatbread is sold in mamak stalls in Malaysia. Roti canai is made from a thin dough, dipped into curry sauce. This flat, circular treat goes perfectly with a cup of milky tea called teh tarik.
You might think the stingray is one of the dangerous creatures in the sea—and you won’t be wrong—but in countries like Malaysia, it is makes for the tastiest seafood fare. In Malaysia, they wrap the stingray in banana leaf and combine it with different spices, including turmeric. The stingray is marinated to infuse the meat with a richer flavour. After marination, it is then grilled and served with sambal belacan, a traditional chili paste prepared with lime juice and sliced shallots.
Laksa is another popular dish in Malaysia. Other countries such as China, Indonesia, and Singapore have their respective versions of this dynamic recipe. This dish has multiple variations:
Curry laksa features a coconut-based soup with ingredients like fish sticks, shrimp, bean curd puffs, and cockles. Instead of seafood, some vendors sell it with chicken. Malaysians call it daunkesuma when curry laksa is served with a spoonful of sambal chilli paste and garnished with Vietnamese coriander or laksa leaf.
In Penang, there is what they call curry mee. The recipe uses a different kind of noodles called yellow mee or bee hoon, instead of the traditional white, thick laksa noodles. It also has coagulated pork blood, another special delicacy in Malaysia.
Laksalemak, or commonly known as laksanyonya, is another laksa variation that is cooked with coconut gravy. Lemak, in Malay language, refers to the presence of coconut milk, which makes the dish richer and more flavourful.
A speciality of the northeastern Malaysian states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Kedah is called laksam. It is cooked with very thick, white, flat rice-flour noodles and coconut milk.The main ingredient is usually fish, but there are stalls that offer eel.
Asamlaksa is flavoured with finely sliced vegetables like onions, pineapple, lettuce, cucumber, red chillies, and comes with kembung fish or mackerel. In 2011, CNN listed asamlaksa as No. 7 in the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods. Asam is a Malay word for tamarind, which is what makes this fish-based soup taste sour.
Make sure to taste all of these delicious dishes as you tour Malaysia! Not only will they satisfy your taste buds, they are also healthy and affordable. Most of these delicacies you can buy from stalls, as well as several local restaurants and dining spots.
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