Cuisine of the Week: Malay Cuisine
Malay food does not have so many different from any southeast country like Thailand and Indonesia. It has a strong, spicy aromatic, combining different kinds of herbs that commonly found in Southeast Asia. Malay cuisine is part of the major cuisine in Malaysia. Since Malaysia is a multi-cultural country the majority have Indian, Malay and Chinese.
Most Malay foods are a mix of herbs like garlic, ginger, turmeric, kaffir leaves, and lemongrass and so on. Other than that, most of the favourite food is cooked with coconut milk like rending, nasi lemak, curries and many more. The spicy and creamy taste makes the food taste better. Every dish in Malay cuisine is spicy since we all like spiciness. Only a few people like non-spicy food, which is depending on the region you visit.
The Evolution of Malay Cuisine
Being strategically located, Malaysia is like the paradise of food. With the multi diversity and cultural of Malaysian people, we can have different cuisines in one place. In the 15th century, Malacca has been named as one of the most strategic harbour. People from other countries came to trade and stopped by Melaka for business purposes.
As many people coming in and out, there are a lot of influences brought by the traders. One of the heavily influenced is cooking. A lot of the traders brought along spices from their country and grew it in Malaysia. Among the spices that we know of are pepper, clove, exotic vegetables and cardamom.
With that Malay cuisine is heavily influenced by the Arab, Indian, Chinese, Siamese, Javanese, Minangkabau and some other cultures. Nowadays, as we can see, Malay cuisine uses a lot of spices in preparing one single dish.
Popular Malay Food and Pastries
- Nasi lemak
Nasi lemak is a traditional Malay food that is usually served with anchovies, nuts, and spicy condiments. The rice is soaked in coconut milk and result in creamy fatty taste. The Lemak words itself means fatty. Malaysian usually enjoys their nasi lemak in the morning however, there are people who enjoy eating nasi lemak in every meal.
- Ikan Bakar
Ikan bakar is marinated fresh fish that wrapped with banana leaves. The marinate paste is usually made of spicy chilli sauce and herbs. The fish will be grill with a banana leaf on it. . Ikan Bakar has its dipping sauce made of soy sauce, lime, and chilli. This flavourful dish is the must have dishes when you are by the beach
- Masak Lemak Cili Api
Masak Lemak Cili api is a coconut milk-based dish that is cooked with turmeric and chilli. It has a creamy and spicy taste that keeps you craving for more of it despite the stingy spiciness. Masak Lemak can be cooked either with chicken, beef or seafood, but most Malaysian favourite Masak Lemak is the one that cooked with smoked beef.
Laksa is a very famous wheat noodles in Malaysia that originated from Penang. The taste of laksa can vary depends on which state you visit. The creamy spicy tangy coconut broth that mixes with fish meat is a mouth-watering dish that is bound to be delish!
- Asam pedas
Asam pedas is a sweet, sour and spicy stew that originated from Minangkabau. The Asam pedas can be cooked either with fish, beef or chicken or with the addition of okra and tomatoes. Asam pedas is famous in Melaka where you can get it anywhere in Melaka’s restaurant.
- Curry puff
Curry puff is like a mini version of pie. It is a popular snack in Southeast Asia. Curry puff is filled with curry potato that mixes with chicken or beef and cooks it in deep fry to have the crispy taste.
- Nasi kerabu
This blue colored rice is mostly famous in Terengganu. The rice is soaked with blue pea flower to get the blue-tinged colour but it does not affect the taste of the original rice. the rice got a savory taste with the help of the salad that is a mix of lemongrass, kaffir leaves, and salt. Nasi kerabu is served with grated coconut, sweet and spicy sauce, salted egg and smoke beef.
It is an important part of Malay food. You can’t get otak-otak in other countries. It is a dumpling made of steamed seafood and wrapped in the banana leaves. The steamed seafood is grounded with turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, and other spices. Then place the wrapped otak-otak on the grill. It tastes a little bit spicy but flavourful.
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Article Written By Marcovy
Marcovy is a passionate writer who thinks life is about living to eat and enjoying it to the fullest. He wanted to explore the restaurants around Malaysia and the idea of documenting those food experiences was what inspired him to start writing food blog.