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.
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!
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!
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.
Fluffy white rice rich with the aroma of coconut cream accompanied with small fried anchovies, delicately roasted peanuts, half of a hard boiled egg, slices of cucumber and a good small serving of sweet and spicy sauce all wrapped up in the fragrance of banana leaves. For the initiated, just the thought of nasi lemak is enough to induce a circus of flavors in their mouths and set their stomachs growling.
The words “nasi lemak” literally translates to mean fatty or creamy (lemak) rice (nasi) in the Malay language. It refers to the creamy coconut milk used in cooking this rice to produce its distinctive exotic fragrance and flavor so the unhealthy connotations of its translated name can somewhat be justified in this context.
While the origins of nasi lemak is unclear, it is a dish that is enjoyed by Malaysians and those in neighbouring Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Pride and glory to be claimed over the creation of this unique dish have created much debate on where it truly comes from but despite it all, the dish is evidently much loved by many.
In Malaysia, nasi lemak in its native form of coconut rice served with sambal ikan bilis (anchovies and onions in a chili paste) on a banana leaf, is deeply ingrained in the Malay culture. It is a staple breakfast, and is increasingly becoming an any-time meal including supper, for many locals. The versatility of this coconut rice had led to many variations and adaptations to suit the changing tastes and eating habits of Malaysians. But amidst this, the two things that have remained true to the traditions of the original dish are the coconut rice and the tantalizing sweet sambal.
The simple Malay version has been modified over time where the traditional hard boiled egg and anchovies in the sambal have been replaced with fried egg and crispy anchovies. In many eateries, the choice of coconut rice is available along with white rice, and is served with other local Malay dishes such as fried fish, chicken or beef rendang and spicy vegetables.
It is not unusual for the Chinese to have their nasi lemak with deep fried chicken drumstick, sausage, fried egg, chilli squid, stir-fried French beans and an assortment of other side dishes. This supersized version with its variety of offerings is a popular choice for young Malaysians when dining with their kakis (local colloquial term for buddies).
Nasi lemak has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a simple coconut rice to a dish highly capitalized by some chefs and restaurants claiming to serve the best nasi lemak in town. The good news for diners is that the increasing variety and choice means there is no need to settle for just one.
To try this exotic dish of South East Asia, not much effort or hunting is required to find a place that serves it. For the authentic and basic Malaysian nasi lemak, simply pop into any neighbourhood mamak (Indian Muslim) or Chinese coffee shop in the morning. Look out for small pyramid-shaped packages wrapped in brown paper and banana leaves on the tables.