Introduction to Malaysian cuisine

August 6, 2011 in Provisions,Restaurants

I fully admit that I’ve never been a rock star at geography. But even I was a little embarrassed when a group of Malaysian students joined my Alliance Francaise class in Nice, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you where Malaysia was.

I did little to remedy my ignorance about Malaysian culture, other than go home and find the country on a map. So when I was approached to be a part of the Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Ambassador Program, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the cuisine and culture.

Grilled chicken at Laksa Me, Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne CBD, Australia

Malaysian cuisine is incredibly varied, reflecting the country’s diverse population and complicated history: Chinese, Indian and Eurasian are all significant subcategories. Located in Southeast Asia, Malaysia borders Thailand, Singapore, the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca–leading Malaysian to become the original “fusion” food.

Malaysian food is an awesome budget Southeast Asian food option in Australia, although it’s often overshadowed by Thai curries and Chinese dumplings. I’ll be embarking on a bit of a culinary adventure with the opportunity to try heaps of Malaysian food–but I wanted to start you off with the basic dishes:

Rendang beef curry, Laksa Me, Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne CBD, Australia

Rendang beef curry: slow cooked with spices and coconut cream. So. Freaking. Good.

Jackfruit prawns at Laksa Me, Malaysian Restaurant in Melbourne CBD, Australia

Sambal Udang: spicy prawns, served in a robust sauce of tomatoes, chilies, shallots, garlic and tamarind. At Laksa Me, we tried Gulai Nangka prawns–green prawns slow cooked with young jackfruit in a rich red curry. I laughed when the girl next to me couldn’t finish her prawn because it was so spicy–and then I started sweating profusely after the first bite and couldn’t eat anymore. And this wasn’t even considered a “spicy” dish! Be warned.

Seafood Laksa at Pan Asian, Prahran, Melbourne, Australia

Laksa: noodles in tangy fish soup. Cheap, filling, nutritious and just the right amount of spice: laksa is probably my favorite Malaysian lunch option on a budget.

Roti at Laksa Me, Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne CBD, Australia

Roti: the delicious, crepe-like flat bread that accompanies most Malaysian curries. Perfect for mopping up juices–and satisfying even on its own.

Looking forward to delving into more Malaysian cuisine–and getting past the basics.

While Malaysia Kitchen may have paid for my meals, all opinions and photos are completely my own. The first, second, third and fifth photos are from Laksa Me. The fourth photo is from Pan Asian

  • Fran

    While you are in Melbourne, you should visit Singapore, too! :) You could extend your Malay food introduction + add in Indian and Chinese food (definitely not the same ones sold on western countries) here. The food here is ridiculously good.

    P.S. I got hungry after reading this post. Must remedy it with Laksa tomorrow. :)

  • http://www.europeantravelista.com Debbie @ European Travelista

    I have to admit, all of this food looked scrumptious!  My mouth is watering.  Need curry quickly!

  • Anonymous

    I had Laksa at the KUL airport and remember it as having more than ‘just the right amount of spice.’ Perhaps though that could have been my body adjusting to the heat and humidy of SE Asia. Sweet deal to get to sample all this food. :)

  • http://marisawilliams.com risamay

    I’ve never had Malaysian cuisine. I need to remedy that! It looks and sounds delicious.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, looks like a cuisine right up my alley! Don’t feel embarrassed, most Americans don’t even know where Tunisia and Algeria are…. geography is simply not emphasized enough in the classroom! 

  • Anonymous

    I’m certainly hoping to try authentic Malaysian food at some point–SE Asia is next on the list! I could go for a laksa lunch tomorrow as well :)

  • Anonymous

    I’m going out for Malaysian again this weekend–I can’t wait!!! Am going to go very hungry :)

  • Anonymous

    The jackfruit curry had me sweating–but the laksa I could handle! The chef at one of the restaurants said Malaysian food tends to be quite spicy–I certainly believe him. And yes, loving the opportunity to eat so much delicious food!

  • Anonymous

    Definitely try it–it’s so underrated!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a great spicy alternative–you’d love it! And re: the geography–certainly something that isn’t emphasized in the American isolationist classroom!

  • http://avenue-reine-mathilde.over-blog.com Tiphanya

    I stayed one month in Malaysia and didn’t try any of the food you show us (except the roti). But we tried everyday to eat new stuffs, and everyday it was hard to choose which news meal we should pick instead of another one. I love this country for its foods (and so cheap)

  • Anonymous

    Would love to go and try it firsthand in Malaysia–some day!

  • Pingback: Spotlight on Malaysian seafood specialities | C'est Christine

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