Laksa is thick spicy rice noodles which are served in a tangy fish soup/gravy, and very popular dish in Penang, most stalls in other states even use the name ‘Penang Laksa’ to promote the dish. Though the soupy gravy is made with mackerel, it is not fishy at all, because it uses lots of aromatic herbs. The dish also served with fresh vegetables like shredded cucumber, pineapple, lettuce, fragrant mint leaves, and onion. In general the term Laksa refers to Malay style laksa, sometimes called Malay Laksa and very popular in Malaysia. Many variations can be found at different parts of the country. Tamarind which is used as a souring agent to give a tart tangy taste is a key ingredient. Penang Assam Laksa or Penang Laksa is very famous and well known.
Roti Canai is one of Malaysian’s favourite food for breakfast. Made of mainly flour, ghee and water, this flattened bread is best served with dhal or curry. There are many variations where the roti canai can be combined to create different flavours using the bread as the base. For example, you can get roti telur (egg), roti bawang (onion), roti planta (a type of margarine), roti sardine and roti cheese. Though these variations may add some exotic taste to the bread, it is sometimes best if you eat the roti canai as it is plain and hot!
Smoke and more smoke from black stir fried woks are a common sight in Malaysia’s hawker stalls and centres. But rather than choking, the smoke from Chai Tau Kway being fried with dashes of oil fills the air with a tantalizing fragrance of garlic and spring onions which is enough to make anyone salivate.
Chai Tau Kway is a common Chinese dish found in Malaysia originating from the Teo Chew clan. It has since influenced the taste buds of Malaysians as an everyday breakfast dish because it is packed with carbohydrates energy and serves as a good pick-me-up in the morning.
Chai Tau Kway which means Radish Cake, is made from mashed radish, rice flour and water. The finished product of steaming this is an off-white cake which is then cut into bite-sized rectangular blocks for frying with eggs, garlic, spring onions, light soya sauce, fish sauce and chilli.
There are two types of Chai Tau Kway that hawkers will always offer at their stalls: the black version and the white version. The black version comes with the extra dash of black soya sauce which makes the dish really black and sweeter due to the natural sweetness of the black soya sauce. The white version is a simple combination of the typical ingredients as mentioned earlier without the black soya sauce and is lighter to taste.
Another key ingredient for the Chai Tau Kway is the preserved radish bits, called chai poh in teo chew that are fried together to add the extra crunch and sweetness to the dish. Go without that and the regulars to this dish would be able to tell the difference and know what is missing.
In most hawker centers, Chai Tau Kway is labelled as Fried Carrot Cake. The carrot part of the name refers to the Chinese name for radish, which literally translates to “white carrot”. To the amusement of locals, this has caused much curiosity among foreigners who are confused by the lack of orange carrots in this cake. It has become somewhat of a joke in Malaysia and Singapore and even inspired to title of a Singaporean food Guide for foreigners – There’s no carrot in carrot cake by Leslie Tay.
A variation of hawker-style Chai Tau Kway is commonly found in Dim Sum restaurants. The mashed radish is compacted into rectangular blocks and lightly fried. It is served with chopped shallots, dried shrimp and a chilli dipping sauce.
To try out Chai Tau Kway in Malaysia, one need not travel too far to experience this local delight as it is very popular at night markets, street-side vendors as well as streets strewn with pop-up stalls. One famous street many would know about is Petaling Street in Chinatown, KL where finding the Char Kway will not be such a tough feat.
Normally cocktail is known to be a mixture of alcoholic drink, but there is a lesser known definition of cocktail which refers to small pieces of food, normally served in cold as appetizer, and they are served in the cocktail glass, hence the name. A popular form of this type of cocktail is shrimp cocktail, which can easily be found in many restaurants in Malaysia.
Beside shrimp, one may also find chicken cocktail, or other seafood cocktail. Some time, such cocktail comes with some wine, but it won’t get you drunk !
Chicken rice is very famous among Malaysians, there are many different types of chicken rice and Hai Nan Chicken rice is top of the list! The smoked and steamed chicken which are crystal white top up with special made chilies made Malaysian go crazy!! The rice are actually cooked with the steamed chicken soup which enrich the chicken flavour of the rice! Added with some of the black sweet soy source, it makes one agrees it’s finger licking good!
Fou Thiu Chiong literally means ‘Buddha jumps over the wall’ in Chinese. The name of the soup implies that it is so appealing, even a vegetarian monk (Buddha) himself could not restrain himself and would sneak out of the monastery (jump over the wall) to taste it.A typical recipe requires many ingredients including quail eggs, bamboo shoots, scallop, sea cucumber, abalone, shark fin, chicken, Jinhua ham, pork tendon, ginseng, mushrooms, and taro. When served in restaurants, the more expensive ingredients are emphasized to justify the lofty price normally charged for this soup.
The Indian Rojak is a mixture of fried dough fritters, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, prawn fritters, bean curds, bean sprouts and cucumber. This is all combined and splashed with a spicy peanut sauce. At certain stalls, squids are also added into the mixture as a variation order.
Oyster is easy to find in most of the fish village in Malaysia, especially at west coast of Malaysia. Fried oyster is cook with egg, yam juice, some grain juice and fresh oyster, fried them until it is fully cook. Add some lime juice when you taste it! You are going to be able to enjoy the juicy fresh Oyster in your mouth!
Think about pancakes and one would mentally drift upon a plate of stacked fluffy discs made from buttermilk, eggs and flour on the griddle and usually served with a generous pour of golden maple syrup; an enticing breakfast image made famous by the good old American diners and cafes. The South Indians however, have their own version of the pancake called the Dosa, or better known as Tosai in Malaysia.
Tosai was first brought onto the shores of Malaysia by the South Indian community during the British Colonisation of Malaya. Since then, it has become one of the favourite breakfast staples that can easily be found at most Indian stalls in Malaysia’s coffee shops. Locals would usually visit these Tosai and a cup of teh tarik (pulled tea) as it is packed full of carbohydrates and lacking in the saturated fat department.
Golden brown and crispy on the outside, Tosai is made from South Indian black lentils known as urad dal and rice which is soaked and grounded together. The batter is left to ferment which gives the Tosaiits tangy, mildly sour taste. Unlike its fluffy pancake cousin, the Tosai is soft in the centre with thin edges that are almost brittle to the touch. During cooking, the batter is poured onto a flat hotplate, spread out evenly in a large circular form and panfried until slightly brown. It is folded in half or rolled before being served in order to fit onto the plate.
Usually served in a convenient metal plate with multiple indents for side dishes and dips, the best thing about eating Tosai is the variety of side dishes that are available. One of the favorites is the coconut chutney dip which is made from grated coconut, ginger and chanadahl (split chick pea). Another common side dish is the dahl curry made from lentils and spices. Though the usual Indian spices and chillies might not be suitable for young children, sugar can also go surprisingly well for the little ones and would be an absolute delight for them. Other side dishes would include mint chutney, Indian yoghurt and sambar, which is also called dahl.
A variation of the Tosai is a delicious crepe stuffed with spiced potatoes called Masala Tosai. The mixture of potatoes, peas, carrots and other spices gives the Masala Tosai an exquisite taste of saltiness, tanginess and spice. To truly appreciate good South Indian food, one can visit the Sri Lakshmi Narayana Bhavan, 26 Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where it is famous for its vegetarian South Indian cuisine.
Satay, the South East Asian equivalent of the kebab in Turkey or yakitori in Japan can be found virtually everywhere on the shores of South East Asian countries. Originated in Indonesia, satay is a mini kebab with pieces of meat usually chicken, mutton or beef – or even pork as sold by the Chinese – skewered on thin bamboo sticks and casually cooked over a flaming charcoal grill. This delectable dish is typically served with a small bowl of fragrant peanut sauce which serves as a clever pairing.
Tumeric is one of the main ingredients of the satay, which gives it its distinct yellow coloring and tangy taste. Its sweet and tasty flavouring is due to a number of herbs and spices that goes into its marinate recipe, typically brown sugar, cumin, garlic, lemon grass and ginger.
Throughout Malaysia, the variations of the satay are plenty. More commonly, the typical charcoal grilled Satay can be found at hawker centres or pasar malam (night markets) throughout the states of Malaysia and in Singapore. A satay seller can be easily spotted from afar by the smoke, the aggressive waving of the distinctive satay fan, flames dancing from a portable charcoal pit and the aroma of the oils from the satay. Served up with sides of raw red onions, cucumbers and ketupat (compacted rice cake) and one can be on their way to flavour heaven.
In the state of Selangor, a well known and popular version among locals and tourists is satay Kajang, earning this town in eastern Selangor its informal title of the Satay Town. There is even a satay museum (Galeri Sate) showcasing the history of Kajang satay. One of the most popular restaurants is Haji Samuri, which has expanded to 20 outlets within Selangor and interstate.
In parts of Penang and Malacca however, locals are used to having their satay on a self-servicing approach. It can be a tad bemusing at first to see people gathering around a minivan – usually a white one – and dipping sticks of meat and seafood into a dark bubbling pit of sweet peanut sauce, but one would find out soon why the locals love it so much. This is called ‘satay celup’ where sticks of raw chicken, mutton, beef, squid, quail eggs or vegetables are cooked in the hot peanut sauce and for an added flavour, it can go along very well with different types of chilli sauces available.
Another type of satay resembles that of the hotpot culture where most can be seen dipping sticks into boiling hot water before drenching them into different types of hot sauces. This type of satay is called the ‘satay lok lok’ and it has become somewhat of a supper culture for most Malaysians and also serves as a good wrap-up after a good night of hitting the clubs.
The satay has proven to be one of the most distinctive local foods of South East Asia because of its exotic blend of ingredients that can be easily found at the local provision stores. It is with no surprise that this unique and colourful dish is worthy of being national food icons for both Malaysia and Singapore when food tourism is concerned and is evident to be loved by many as a must-have item for an Asian barbecue.