What to eat in Malaysia

If I was to sit you down to a slide night of travel photos - not that I would - the pictures you'd see would be of food. I can be wowed ...

If I was to sit you down to a slide night of travel photos - not that I would - the pictures you'd see would be of food. I can be wowed by palaces, temples and other fantastic monuments but it's the experiences with food I remember the most.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || meat market Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Last year's whirlwind trip to Malaysia was no exception. We booked early in the year to take advantage of great flight, hotel and tour package prices and travelled in September - squeezing the week in between uni trimesters.

Everything we ate was delicious, but here's a handful of my favourites.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || vegetable market Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || fresh producer Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The savoury

Let's start with the smattering of savoury street foods and offered up treats found on my travels.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || satay Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
I expected to see more of the rich peanut sauce I imagined was the staple of Malaysian street food. It was always where tourists could be found and the best I had was actually a travel-weary room service order on our first night in Kuala Lumpur, at about 1am local time. Hunt it down if you're a fan, but look around for other tasty treats.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || lobak Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || lobak fried bean curd Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
I don't eat a lot of red meat, practically none, so it's been decades since I've had pork crackling and this deep, deep fried bean curd, or lobak, is the closest I've come in all that time. It snap, crackles and pops just like pork crackling and I'd hate to think how many calories are on that plate. It is, like so much of the street food you find, a Chinese introduction, but worth tasting, for novelty value alone.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || roti Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Now, we're talking. Hot, flaky, buttery flat bread that is something like a savoury croissant in Indian naan shape. Dip it into spicy, soupy curries and drown with a warm, sweet aromatic chai.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || dim sum Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
The Chinese influence on Malaysian cuisine is evident everywhere you go. You'll likely eat more Chinese meals than authentic Malaysian. Roll with it, I say. The dim sum are cheap and tasty.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || lemang Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
We happened on a family cooking for Malaysia's National Day and were offered this sticky rice steamed over a fire in bamboo. The rice is smoky, with a hint of coconut for sweetness tempered by salt. It's also buttery and hot, and delicious.

The sweet

I don't have the sweetest tooth but in hot steamy climates a sweet hit - especially a cold one - can recharge you like nothing else.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || cendol Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
There's beans, corn, glutinous rice thingies, shaved ice, coconut milk, palm sugar and probably a heap more stuff I don't care to know about. All I know is it's good and it is sweet. Hurt your teeth sweet. I will warn, shaved ice is a risky proposition if you don't have a cast-iron stomach. I was willing to take the risk.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || apam balik Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Okay, this is worth hunting down. It's ridiculously good and ridiculously cheap. It's hot, peanutty and coconutty and crunchy on the outside while warm and squidgy in the middle. 

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au || kuih Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Think of this as a smorgasbord of sweet treats. Kuih are gooey bites of rice flour, pandan, palm sugar and coconut in many combinations. It's a lucky dip of taste and texture. Don't hold back. Ask for one of everything.

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  1. What a vibrant food tour you have just given us Katie! I am very curious about those large green objects (vegetables?) that look like giant peas in your second photo. Fascinating.

    1. Oh Lord, I wish I knew. They were everywhere, and from memory, the photo underneath is what comes out of them. They're hard, like a jacaranda seed pod and I have no idea what they're for. I've not seen them on travel in the region before - at least not like that. I'll have to call on others to say what they are and what they're used for.