Liza is a homemaker. She has an obsession with coffee and loves photography, baking, cooking, and writing.
What Makes Malaysian Food Special?
I grew up in Malaysia, where I enjoyed eating local dishes every day. Now that I live in the United States and have become familiar with a very different cuisine, I've gained some perspective on what makes Malaysian food unique.
In Malay cooking, having the correct ingredients is crucial to the success of each dish because every single flavor is a critical part of the whole. If you can't get the right ingredients, the dish won't be as authentic and genuine as it should be.
Let's take the example of chicken rendang. One of the main ingredients in this dish is called kerasik, or desiccated coconut. Kerisik is made by taking shredded coconut, toasting it in a pan, and then grinding it (with a mortar and pestle) into a thick oily paste. If you can't get this ingredient, or if it's not prepared properly, the flavor of the final dish just won't be right.
Another aspect of Malaysia's unique cuisine has to do with the nature of the country itself. Multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual, Malaysia's diversity has led to an exciting blend of many traditions from around the region. Traditional Malay cuisine reflects a generous use of spices and coconut milk, but it also borrows seasonings and cooking techniques from China, as well as certain aromatics (such as curry leaves) and flavored rice dishes from India.
My Mother, My Mentor
As far back as I can remember, my mother served me the most authentic, traditional, and tasty Malay foods. To this day, my mother is my mentor in the kitchen. I am lucky to have a mentor like her because she has an incredible depth of knowledge and understanding of Malay cookery over the past fifty years. By teaching me these traditional culinary techniques, I've learned to take pride in my ethnicity and culture.
Cooking Malay Food in the United States
In 2016, following my move to the United States with my husband, I started to miss the food from back home. I missed eating nasi lemak for breakfast, chicken curry for lunch, crispy fried banana for snacks, and fish curry for dinner. Soon, I began cooking Malay food at home.
There is nothing that compares to a home-cooked meal, right? It always tastes better. In my opinion, the most important thing when you cook is that it comes from your heart. That is the secret to making food taste delicious.
In sharing some of my favorite Malay dishes with you, I hope that you will appreciate the abundance and authenticity of Malay cuisine. I see this as a way of explaining my culture and my roots, and I hope you will discover some wonderfully delicious meals along the way. Enjoy!
My All-Time Favorite Malay Dishes
- Chicken or beef satay
- Nasi lemak
- Mi sup (chicken noodles)
- Nasi goreng (fried rice)
- Curry noddles
- Malay-style chicken curry
- Chicken rendang
- Mi rebus (boiled noodles)
- Sambal udang (spicy shrimp)
- Shrimp curry with pineapple
- Fish curry
- Roti Canai
1. Chicken or Beef Satay
2. Nasi Lemak
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3. Mi Sup
4. Nasi Goreng
5. Curry Noodles
6. Malay-Style Chicken Curry
7. Chicken Rendang
8. Mi Rebus
9. Sambal Udang
10. Shrimp Curry With Pineapple
11. Fish Curry
12. Roti Canai
Questions & Answers
Question: Where can I find curry leaves and pandan in the US?
Answer: You can find curry leaves and pandan leaves at the Asian store. Perhaps you should check out the Asian stores near your house. Usually, curry leaves are placed in a cool area such as vegetables, herbs, fruit shelves. For pandan leaves, you should check in the freezer as they tried to preserve the leaves from dehydrating.
© 2018 Liza