A national dish is any countries culinary. It is served as a festive culinary tradition that forms part of a cultural heritage. Most countries have a favorite or national dish. Popular with residents and forming part of a country’s identity, they are an essential experience for visitors.
Let’s see what national dishes in Southeast Asia Muslim can try while in the country!
MALAYSIA – Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is first mentioned in a book in 1909, in a book named ‘The Circumstances of Malay Life’ written by Sir Richard Olof Winstedt. Nasi Lemak was mentioned as a Malay cuisine and part of the Malay culture.
Nasi Lemak derived its name from the cooking process involved soaking the rice in coconut cream before steaming the mixture. The rice is also commonly cooked with pandan leaves to give it the distinctive flavor and fragrant.
The traditional Malaysian version of Nasi Lemak is served with sambal, fried anchovies, peanuts and boiled egg. Other side dishes such as sambal kerang, sambal sotong or chicken rendang can be eaten with Nasi Lemak.
Due to its popularity across Southeast Asia, Nasi Lemak is improved by different regions and culture to suit the palates of the people who enjoy the dish. The 7 different variations are the Malaysian Indian, Malaysian Chinese, Riau, Singaporean Malay, Singaporean Chinese, vegetarian and Thai.
BRUNEI – Ambuyat
Ambuyat or also known as linut is a national dish of Brunei and it is a local delicacy in the Malaysian States of Sabah, Sarawak and also the federal territory of the Labuan.
The dish is made with sago palm starch that is cooked into a glue-like substance and eaten along with sour fermented sauce and an arrangement of vegetables and soup. Sago is white solids being derived from the trunk of a Rumbia tree. The local term for sago is Ambulung.
The dish could be eaten with a bamboo fork referred as candas by rolling the starch around the prongs, then dipping into the sauce. Ambuyat and its tropical sauce dip is usually served with other local dishes such as fried fish, grilled prawns, fried belutak or mixed beef, lalap or fried dried beef and local vegetables.
INDONESIA – Nasi Padang
Nasi Padang, the famous Indonesian dish, is known and appreciated all over the world. The way it was presented, and the taste is different from typical dishes and exotic, flavored and spicy. From rendang to dendeng, Padang food is loved by many and indeed is one of Indonesia’s most popular local cuisines.
Nasi means steamed rice and is served with the Padang food. Using coconut milk and various ingredients, the technique can be used to cook different types of ingredients, including beef, chicken, egg and even unripe jack fruit.
Most Padang restaurants will serve a lot of dishes straight away on your table. Immediately after you enter the place, a waiter comes to you with piles of dishes and quickly set your table with dozens of a plate filled with dishes. Interestingly, at the restaurant, fill up your tummy and pay for those dishes you ate only. No payment is made for other dishes you did not eat.
Nasi Padang can be easily found in Indonesian most important cities, such as Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara. In 2011, CNN readers voted rendang as the World’s Most Delicious Food. However, rendang is not the name of the dish, but it is a cooking method.
SINGAPORE – Hainanese Chicken Rice
This dish was brought to the island by Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island on late 19th century. In Hainan, the dish is made with stock from both pork and small chicken bones called Wengchang chickens, but Hainanese chefs in Singapore make their stock only from chicken.
This dish is an ensemble of 4 parts ; poached chicken, fragrance rice cooked in chicken stock, soup based on the chicken stock and a variety of dipping sauces including minced garlic chili, ginger and thick soy sauce.
In 2011, CNN listed chicken rice as one of the 50 best foods in the world. The dish received further attention when it was lauded by international chefs and famous television personalities, Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain.
LAOS – Green Papaya Salad and Sticky Rice
Green papaya salad and Sticky Rice is a combination that is genuinely Laotian. It is one of the traditional staple food of the Lao.
Green papaya salad or Tam Mak Hoong literally means pounded papaya, is a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. Even though it is originated from Laos, this dish is also eaten throughout the Southeast Asia and can be served in different ways depending on the region. The Quintessence of Lao cuisine converged as this dish consists of four main tastes : sour lime, hot chili, salty of savory fish sauce and sweetness of palm sugar.
Sticky rice or Khao Niaw is a traditional Laos food, eaten by Lao citizens more than anyone else in the world. This rice traditionally steamed and served in a cone-shaped bamboo basket called “Lao Aep Khao”. Although it is from a glutinous rice it is actually gluten free. In Laos, there is always sticky rice available to eat at any time of the day.
THAILAND – Pad Kra Pao
Thai Basil Chicken or Pad Kra Pao is Thai fast food and popular dish because of its taste and simple stir-fry cooking technique. This dish consists of a minced chicken stir-fry in rich, spicy brown sauce with Thai basil.
This dish is great served over rice with a wok-fried egg on top. Pad Kra Pao can be found at a simple street side restaurant or in a food court especially during lunchtime.
CAMBODIA – Amok Fish
Cambodian fish amok or trey amok is a classic Khmer curry dish. It is made of fish, lemongrass, chili, coconut cream and amok “ngor” leaves, served in banana leaf with rice.
Amok refers to the process of steaming to infuse it with flavor and leave the fish tender. Although halibut or cod is commonly used, the traditionally fish amok used the freshwater Trey fish.
Why should you skip all these delicious foods whenever you are in the country? Come to these restaurants with empty stomach and leave happily with full stomach.