Honestly, there is no better place to be than home. As a nation with 13 states and people from different cultural backgrounds, those coming for a visit to Malaysia would certainly be in for a treat, literally. Malaysian cuisine is basically a blend of Chinese, Indian and Asian Malay flavours making every dish incredibly rich and flavoursome. Safe to say, Malaysia is a nation with outstandingly tasty food and unique creations. This is a Malaysian food guide of must have dishes from each state in the country.
This skewered grilled meat is usually served with a spicy peanut sauce and other accompaniments like cucumbers, onions and ketupat. It comes with a variety of meat ranging from chicken, beef and lamb to more gamey options like the wild boar and rabbits. Despite being a well-known dish across the whole nation, the best satay can only be found in Kajang.
Bak Kut Teh
Known as a meat bone tea in the Hokkien language, it is one of the many comfort foods that the non-Muslim community enjoy. It could be lunch, dinner or even supper — the perfect meal to have during a rainy season would be the famous Bah Kut Teh. Served in clay pots, the broth is deeply flavoured with herbs and comes with chunks of succulent pork meat, mushrooms and tofu. This is the ultimate soul-food for all Selangorian.
This sour and spicy dish is a favourite among the Peranakan community in Melaka. Usually cooked with freshwater fish, the Asam Pedas is made with tamarind juice and an assortment of spices. Though it’s common to cook it with fish, there are other seafood choices as well. Besides that, the dish is also cooked with a variety of vegetables such as lady’s finger, brinjal and long beans.
There is the famous Satay Kajang from Selangor and there is the Satay Celup in Melaka. Different from the regular satay, this skewered meat is rather an assortment of hot pot ingredients. There are a plethora of choices such as crab, meatballs and dumplings. Similar to your favourite mala hotpot restaurant but instead of hot Szechuan broth — the skewered meat sticks are cooked in a pot of boiling peanut sauce. It is absolutely a hot, savoury mess.
Chicken Rice Ball
One of the reasons why Malaysians from other states travel all the way to Melaka is because of these balls. No pun intended it is just like any other chicken rice dish. It also comes with the usual condiments of chilli and soy sauce. However, the difference of this signature dish is the way the rice is served. Instead of serving it on the plate, it comes in little rice balls.
Masak Lemak Cili Padi
Popular for its coconut milk-based dishes and spicy food, Negeri Sembilan is most popular for their Masak Lemak Cili Padi dish. This rich and spicy dish is a fine representation of the Minang cooking method. Cooked with coconut milk, turmeric and copious amounts of chilli, the creamy gravy is usually served with meat and vegetables.
What makes a chicken rice dish special is the poached, flavoursome chicken. This traditional Hainanese dish is loved by many and can be eaten at any time of the day. Poached to perfection, the tender meat of the chicken is garnished with spring onions and drizzled with soy sauce and aromatic oil. The famous Ipoh Chicken Rice is usually served with bean sprouts on the side, elevating the flavours of the overall dish.
The only drug one would need to get addicted to is this hearty dish called Nasi Ganja. It is Perak’s take on the famous Nasi Kandar that is basically a mix of curries topped with crispy red fried chicken, salted egg and lady’s finger. Honestly, nothing is better than having your plate filled with curries.
This is a must-have dish when one is visiting the state. Although Penang is known to be the state with an abundance of good food — Nasi Kandar is definitely one of the strongest culinary contenders. With a wide range of meat and vegetables to choose from, one can never get tired of this dish.
Char Kuey Teow
As the food capital of Malaysia, one of the famous street food in Penang has got to be Char Kuey Teow. This popular flat rice noodle dish is usually cooked in a wok with bean sprouts, shrimps, eggs and lap cheong aka Chinese sausages or cockles as an alternative. To up the ante, hawkers do also cook the dish over a charcoal fire and uses duck eggs instead.
Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin
Arguably Pahang’s most famous dish, the Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin is a curry dish cooked with freshwater silver catfish. Made from fermented durian, this special curry dish is absolutely delicious and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. Although the ingredients may seem like an odd combination, it is a flavoursome delicacy that can be found in Temerloh.
Although the dish can be found anywhere in the country, the most popular ones served would be from Perlis. Marinated in turmeric, salt and pepper, the fish is grilled to perfection. The main secret of Perlis’ Ikan Bakar is the sauce. It is made up of red chillies, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Thai chilli sauce with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. May sound like an easy condiment to make, however, nothing can beat theirs.
Nasi Ulam or also known as Nyonya Herbs Rice is basically Kedah’s version of Nasi Kerabu. Something like a rice salad, the dish comes with a variety of raw vegetables and spices. It is also often topped with fried grated coconut and lime juice to give the dish an aromatic finish.
Known for their colourful presentation, this dish is served with blue rice, an assortment of herbs and raw vegetables, fried chicken and crunchy crackers. The blue hue of the rice comes from cooking it with butterfly-pea flowers. This deliciously, unique dish is also often served with Ayam Percik.
Nasi Lemak is a famous breakfast dish in the West Coast of Peninsula. As for the East Coast, it is the famous Nasi Dagang. This reddish glutinous rice is a mixture of jasmine and white sticky rice and it is normally served with a curry dish called Gulai Ikan Tongkol, pickled cucumbers and carrots.
Compared to laksas from other states, the Laksa Johor is served with spaghetti noodles instead of the traditional rice noodles. Putting their Western take aside, the broth is thicker and is made from ground chilli and spices, fish and coconut milk. However, like the traditional laksa, it is topped with shredded cucumbers, bean sprouts and herbs.
The Hinava can be made with either mackerels, prawns or squid. Something like the Hawaiian Poke salad, this special Kadazan-Dusun dish is marinated with lime juice, sliced ginger, red onions, chilli and grated Bambangan seed. To enjoy the dish, one can have it on its own or can be eaten with a plate of white rice.
Coming from the largest state in Malaysia, the signature dish that Sarawak is known for is the Sarawak Kolo Mee. It is a mix of springy noodles with pork lard, minced pork, barbecued pork and choy sum. To give the dish a flavoursome taste, it is tossed in soy sauce and meat stock before being served.
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