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Exploring Malaysia's Diverse and Unique Cuisine through the Eyes of Chinese Students: A Culinary Del

Updated: Jan 12

Written by: Xiao Mingwei, Wang Guanqi

Editor: Ma Xin, Peng Siwei

(Image source: Wang Guanqi)

BANGI, 27 Dec - As a multi-racial country composed of Malay, Indian, Chinese and other multi-racial people, Malaysia's unique cuisine highlights its colorful history and culture.

Historically, Malaysian cuisine and its unique flavors and culture originated from settlers of different backgrounds such as Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Thais, Indonesians and Portuguese.

The colorful Malaysian cuisine carves out an image of a nation that reflects the country's diverse food culture shared by many races. At the same time, with the increasing number of Chinese students coming to Malaysia, apart from experiencing the cultural environment, landscape and climate that is different from their own country, food is also an essential part of the experience of studying abroad.

Malaysian Food Culture and Traditions The beliefs, food and culture of Malaysian society are deeply influenced by Islam.

To this day, almost all authentic traditional Malaysian food are spicy, savory and sweet, cooked with local spices such as turmeric and lemongrass, using black pepper, star anise, cinnamon and coconut as seasonings. Natural ingredients such as pandan and lime are also used to add flavor to the dishes. Malays traditionally use their own ground spices such as mortar and colored powders to cook their dishes.

Fakhruzzaman Fadzil Bin Husrizal, who is the manager of Restaurant Bristol said that:" Many Chinese international students come to the store every day to taste local food. I once asked them why so many Chinese students like to come to my restaurant to eat, and they said they all like the nasi lemak and drinks here."

Guo ZhuoZhuang, a Chinese international student at Fakulti Sains Sosial & Kemanusiaan (FSSk) in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said: “Many Chinese international students live in Savanna.

Restaurant Bristol is a Mamak with many local delicacies. My friends and I like the nasi lemak and teh tarik there."

(Photo resource: WANG GUANQI)

Voted the most popular traditional dish by the National Heritage Board of Malaysia.

Coconut Milk Rice is a very common dish in Malaysia, and it is a favorite at all levels of roadside stalls and restaurants, and has always been the unofficial "national dish" of the Malaysian people.

As the name suggests, the rice is cooked in coconut milk, which gives it a refreshing coconut flavor. Typically, Malaysians cook coconut milk rice in a regular iron pot or rice cooker, sometimes with knotted banh mi leaves, or with spices such as ginger and lemongrass to enhance the flavor of the rice.

In addition to rice, a traditional plate of coconut milk rice would be accompanied by slices of cucumber, dried river fish, fried peanuts, poached or fried eggs, and sambal chili sauce (a sauce made from shrimp paste and chili) that determines the flavor of the whole plate of coconut milk rice. With continuous improvement, many other side dishes have been added to the coconut milk rice, such as fried chicken thighs, octopus, and beef curry.

Liang Zhixi, a Chinese international student at Fakulti Sains Sosial & Kemanusiaan (FSSk) in UKM, said: “I personally like Nasi Lemak, the rice made with coconut milk suits my appetite very well.

Although this is my first time trying it, I think this is what I like."

A plate of seemingly ordinary coconut milk rice is actually a combination of Malay, Chinese, Indian and other ethnic culinary elements, the world's road is a true "cross-ethnic" cuisine, reflecting the Malaysian people proud of the spirit of national tolerance.

(Photo resource: WANG GUANQI)

Kuih seri muka is a common Nyonya and Malay pastry. The first layer is a watery glutinous rice cake, while the second layer is a steamed cake made from rice syrup.

It is characterized by a mixture of flavored sticky rice with coconut milk and "essence" made from "vanilla leaves" mixed with "coconut milk".

Most Nyonya cakes have a soft texture due to the use of glutinous rice flour and tapioca, and in the early days, Nyonya cakes made use of the juices of various plants to color the cakes, which resulted in vibrant colors and a strong aroma from the mixing of various spices, which is the most distinctive feature of Nyonya cakes.

Lu Jingjing, a Chinese international student at Fakulti Sains Sosial & Kemanusiaan (FSSk) in UKM, said: “I like kuih seri muka, the sweetness and coconut flavor of the sticky rice layer, and the green pandan layer with a little saltiness and pandan aroma, it is a dessert that has a very different texture from Chinese pastries.

I also would like to take it back to China and give it to my family to try."

Making traditional food a culinary experience for international students. In Malaysia, over time and with the integration of different races, the authenticity and uniqueness of the original specialties of the traditional cuisine have been preserved, but also mixed and matched to create new specialties that have different cultural and aesthetic values.

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