Once you’re in Malaysia and eating, you’ll quickly dispanse with historical concerns and wonder instead where your next meal is coming from and how you can you get to it sooner.
Asam pedas is a fish dish that is, like a lot of dishes in Malaysia, usually enjoyed with a plate of rice. Asam pedas means ‘sour spicy’, and it stays true to its name; the main ingredients are dried chillies, tamarind, belacan and shallots, and when combined with the fish (usually stingray or Spanish mackerel), it is a tantalizing combination with just the right amount of both flavours, making it one of the most loved Malaysian dishes of all time.
Banana leaf rice
If you don’t mind eating with your hands, and having them smell strongly of curry afterwards, then banana leaf is something that you need to roll your sleeves up for. Rice is served on a banana leaf as opposed to the usual plates together with servings of curries, vegetables, pickles and papadom, and if you want to show your appreciation towards the finger-licking food, you may fold the banana leaf inwards after you have finished it, and if you’re feeling quite the opposite, outwards!
Now, who doesn’t love rendang? Recently voted by readers of CNN International as the number one dish in World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods, many recognize rendang as their favourite and it isn’t hard to see why. Rich in spices and slowly cooked to perfection, rendang is a spicy fare and can usually be seen during religious festivals such as Eid. There are many variants to rendang, and one can opt to cook rendang with other main ingredients such as chicken or mutton, but beef remains as the more popular version of this dish, and can be found in Malay restaurants all around KL.
No Malaysian food lunch spread is complete without the Nasi Dagang. Nasi dagang is another fantastically tasty dish, consisting of rice steamed in coconut milk, fish curry and extra ingredients such as fried shaved coconut, solok lada, hard-boiled eggs and vegetable pickles.
It is a well-known breakfast food in the states on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, such as Terengganu and Kelantan. The most famous Nasi dagang of Terengganu comes from a place called Kampung Ladang, an area within the Kuala Terengganu district. I have not tried the one from Kampung Ladang but my colleague who covers the East Coast says it’s truly the best.
Sang Har Noodle
Next up is the Sang Har Kwey Teow (flat noodles). This is fresh river prawns cooked Cantonese style in a thick eggy broth and finished off with either flat or egg noodles. The orange roe in the head of the prawn just seeps and infuses into the eggy liquid sauce of the noodles and makes the taste phenomenal. The amazing way that the tautness of the prawn flesh blends into the springiness of the flat noodles is like these two components were just made for each other.
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