Otak otak! Fish mousse paste steamed in a banana leaf.
I had so many tasty meals in Malaysia, I couldn’t fit them all in one post. So here’s my ode to Nyonya food.
Nyonya cuisine is a mix of Chinese and Malay cooking. Technically, nyonya refers to descendants of ethnic Chinese who immigrated to Malaysia and parts of Indonesia long ago, in the 15th to 17th centuries. At that time, Malaysia, called “Malaya”, was still a British colony.
Nyonya cuisine has its roots in China, but has evolved into a regional cuisine using traditional Malay spices. Nyonya food in Penang is it’s own subcategory. For example, laksa in Penang is made with tamarind and lime juice, giving it a distinctly sour taste. The Kuala Lumpur and Singapore versions use just coconut milk.
Typical nyonya foods include Curry Kapitan (a pungent curry made with a paste made of shallots, hot chilies, fresh turmeric, coriander and roasted shrimp paste), Jiew Hu Char (minced pork stir fried with shredded veggie assortment, chiefly jicama!), Otak otak (light fish mousse flavored with lemon grass and other spices, steamed in a banana leaf), and Tau Eu Bak (slow cooked pork).
Here are some pictures of the things we ate:
A Nonya feast. Clockwise from bottom left corner: Otak otak, Spring roll & Loh bak (tofu skin with pork), Pork stew hong bak, Ah char awak (pickled veggies with peanut sauce), Top hat with jiew hu char, Curry kapitan in the middle.
Top hats. Jiew Hu Char dropped into little cups of deep fried batter.
Outside the Nonya restaurant in Penang with Grace, cousin Julie’s friend!
Nutmeg juice. Made from the pulp of the fruit that surround the nut.
Nut and fruit of the nutmeg. The red stuff on the outside of the nut is peeled off, dried and turned into Mace, a baking spice.
Typical old bungalow next to restored shophouses in Georgetown.
Typical open-front restaurant in KL, we ate breakfast here. Aunty Emme’s picking her fish ball veggies from the case.
Fish balls, veggies stuffed with fish paste. You pick your own and they drop it in boiling soup to parboil.
Curry chicken on the right, some kind of pork stew on the left.
These have been partly fried or grilled. Delish.
Curry chicken! Tastes like Dad’s. Madras yellow Indian curry taste.
Can’t remember what it was, but it tasted as good as it looks.
Aunty Emme, Uncle Denis, two of their friends, me and another friend Karen.
Aunty got me this special bbq beef. Sweet and way better than beef jerky!
Rojak! Means everything together. We also got Chendol from this guy.
It’s Ramadan, so no lines. He’s shredding the ice block for our chendol.
Naval biscuits, named so because they look like a belly button.
The family house in KL where we stayed for 3 days.
Trendy cafe in Penang, where they made lampshades out of baskets you put over your food to keep the flies away.
Cool wood carving.
Made a new friend.
They call this drink — soy milk with grass jelly on top — Michael Jackson. Sigh.