If you are in a foreign country and want to gain quick access to its culture, look nowhere else except for its food. Like other places in this part of the world, street food is embodied in the Malaysian food culture. It is so popular not only because it is cheap, but it is also convenient for people that are looking for a quick meal and also takeaways for the family.
You should never leave this country without trying its street foods. Once in a while, abandon your hotel’s restaurant or cafe, head to any busy alleys, most likely you will bump into food stalls. Or, even better, gear up and get your stuff and your stomach ready for a visit to Pasar Malam!
What is Pasar Malam?
Pasar Malam can literally be translated as Night Market. Like its name, Pasar Malam is a place where you can find almost everything under the sun. Imagine it to be like a flea market in your country.
You can buy anything here, from groceries, stuff for your garden, traditional medicine, pest control items, cheap electronic goods and accessories like USB Cable, Selfie-stick, Mobile Power Bank, plasticware, clothing and most importantly Foods!
Without any doubt that food in Pasar Malam is likely the best street food you can ever encounter. The selection of foods and drinks can vary vastly and you can pretty much go to Pasar Malam with an empty stomach and leave bloating! I kid you not.
Here are Six must try foods if you ever visit Pasar Malam in Malaysia.
1) Keropok Lekor
It is made of fish – more like Malaysian Fish Finger. I believe you can only find this in Malaysia, and to be exact, you need to go up to the east coast part of Malaysian Peninsular – Terengganu. The birthplace of Keropok Lekor.
Due to its coastal line, fish is the staple for the people living here. There are so many dishes made up of fish and one of them is the one and only – Keropok Lekor.
Oh, how about go to offbeat path i.e. get away from the obvious tourist spot like Kuala Lumpur and head up to Terengganu. Go find places that make keropok lekor and experience yourself how it’s made.
2) Yong Tau Fu
This dish I believe is a dish that influenced by the Chinese culture, suits its name. Usually, it is a combination of finger-sized foods that is boiled in chicken or veggie broth.
You can choose what you want and the hawker will prepare it fresh in front of you. Usually, people eat this with peanut sauce or with a light broth, top with garnishes like toasted peanuts
3) Coconut Shake
I believe most people is familiar with the milkshake and by now already got the idea what coconut shake is. Exactly like what you imagined, coconut shake is made up of coconut juice and coconut flesh, blended with vanilla ice-cream.
The best coconut shake must use the green coconut that is still young in age. The brown and yellow coconut are already matured enough and they have thicker and harder flesh. The matured coconut has degraded juice that already lost its sweetness.
A good coconut shake must use young green coconut with soft white flesh. Usually, it will be top with one or two scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Go team vanilla!
4) Putu Piring
I told you that food being the gateway to learn one’s culture, and thus far we’ve learned about the Malay and Chinese foods. Keropok lekor is rooted from the Malays, Yong tau fu is rooted from the Chinese, and of course as a proud citizen of a multi-racial country, I have to introduce you the food that the Indians have to offer – Putu Piring.
It is a delicious light meal for you that have the sweet teeth. This delicious sweet disc is stuffed with brown palm sugar and will be steamed to perfection.
The texture of this disc is so unique that I cannot find an adjective in the English dictionary to describe it. That means you have to Go! and travel Malaysia to eat this.
5) Puteri Mandi
This one will grab your attention, at least for the gentlemen! It can literally be translated as “Princess Bathing”.
Its main ingredient is glutinous flour that is shaped into small cute balls with pandan flavour. Its texture is very similar to the Japanese mochi if you ever had one. It is drenched in a sweet caramel-liked sauce that is made up from palm sugar and cooked with coconut flakes.
I know, so many ‘tropical ingredients’ here. You got pandan, palm, coconut etc. One thing about these words – it tells you that this is a traditional dish and of course an authentic one.
6) Goreng Pisang
Goreng Pisang – Banana Fritter. If you are a banana fan and prefer deep-fried food and couldn’t care less about your calories intake, you are in heaven!
This is a guilty pleasure that can be found almost anywhere in Malaysia. You might think that you can recreate this dish in your kitchen, most probably you can, but you have to find the right banana for it. Your typical banana is eaten for breakfast and your go-to snack is not really suitable to be used to make Goreng Pisang.
You must find the banana that is a little bit hard in texture so it doesn’t turn into mush when fried, (like plantain) but with a sweet taste to it. Go figure you banana experts!
This is a perfect snack when you are on the road wandering around those tourist spots. The upscale version (not the street-food version) usually garnished with ice-cream and even grated cheese and chocolate. *I told you, it is a food that will make you feel guilty to your body*
In case you are looking to learn more about these dishes and learn other recipes, I highly recommend you to grab this cookbook from Amazon.com. It is a very comprehensive Cookbook with a lot more traditional dishes that you could learn and start to impress your loved ones!
Lastly, don’t wait, let Go! Travel Malaysia.