Top 10 Malaysian Eats
Malaysia is one of the food capitals of the World, thanks to being a melting pot of so many different cultures, including Malay, Chinese and Indian, as well as Pilipino, Thai, Portugese and Dutch.
If you are lucky enough to visit the country that I spent six years of my childhood in, these are the top ten dishes you must seek out and try. Be prepared for big flavours, as that’s what Malaysian food is all about!
- Roti Canai – like a cross between bread, flaky pastry and a pancake – flaky, rich and incredibly moorish. It’s the ultimate way to scoop up your curry! Most roti is savoury, but you can get sweet versions too with sugar and condensed milk. Make sure you also ask for ‘Roti tissue’ – like its name suggests, it’s as light and thin as tissue paper (this one is usually served sweet).
- Satay – my favourite hawker stall dish that I have many childhood memories of – chunks of skewered meat marinated in spices and cooked over open flames, served with a peanut satay sauce, cucumber, red onion and rice cubes – order plenty, they’re so delicious you’ll want at least half a dozen!
- Hainanese chicken rice – this beautifully simple dish has its roots in the Chinese province of Hainan, yet has been adopted by many Asian countries, including Malaysia. It’s proper comfort food, featuring chicken poached in a flavourful stock along with chilli sauce, a dressing made with sesame oil and soy sauce, rice and slices of cucumber.
- Beef rendang is a popular dish that traditionally is served during ceremonies and to honored guests. It is similar to stew, but much richer and drier and with the most tender slow cooked beef you can imagine, in a thick coconut lemongrass sauce – a must try!
- Nasi Lemak – known as the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak, wrapped up in a banana leaf, is commonly eaten for breakfast. Rich creamy coconut rice is served with a spicy sambal, deep fried crispy anchovies and peanuts, fresh cucumber, boiled egg and some sort of meat or curry for a fragrant and tasty meal.
- Rojak is an interesting dish – it translates to ‘mix’ and consists of fruit and vegetables combined with a thick, sweet, spicy sauce. There are many variations, but most Malaysia versions will feature apple, mango, cucumber and pineapple with fried dough (like savoury donuts) tossed with a thick sauce of shrimp paste, sugar and chilli.
- Kaya (coconut jam) – everyone loves this thick, rich, sweet coconut jam. It’s a breakfast staple, usually spread on white bread for breakfast (not healthy, but certainly delicious!)
- Fish ball noodle soup – another classic hawker dish, a base of delicious light broth with rice noodles, vegetables and the fresh bouncy fish balls. If you’re travelling with kids, this would be a good dish for them to try!
- Hokkien mee – is what we would eat late at night for supper on the weekends. Another traditional dish with Chinese origins, Hokkien mee is a rich, indulgent noodle dish with a dark soy and garlicky sauce with egg noodles, pork crackling, prawns, bean sprouts. This moorish dish is sure to satisfy!
- Bak Kut Teh – translates as ‘pork bone tea soup’, Bah Kut Teh is cooked for hours to create a rich meaty broth which is the loaded up with pork ribs, mushrooms, tofu puffs, garlic and either rice or noodles. The broth is deeply herbal and full of vitamins and minerals.
- Tofu-fa – I had to include this one as an extra as it’s what my Malaysian grandfather sold on the side of the road from his motorbike as his business. Silky, creamy soya bean curds are topped with a sweet sugar syrup. Eat for breakfast, lunch or for a snack!
To be doing what I am today is a dream come true. It all started when I was 12 years old. I was watching TV after school one day and Jamie Oliver was cooking up a storm on The Naked Chef.