Every once in a while on a tour I get the odd question, based on what I call global rumors. One such question and rumor is: Do Malaysians eat dog meat?
Although not illegal in Malaysia, the short answer is — no. Malaysians do not eat dog (or cats). This is a major misconception since dogs and cats can at times be found on the menu in other Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Viet Nam.
However, there are a few what many would call exotic and other call just plain strange, foods in Malaysian cuisine.
Here are some examples:
Frog on a Stick
Frog legs aren’t that strange to Westerners and are even quite common in Chinese cuisine, such as frog leg porridge, but the whole frog?
In a well-known night market called Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur, there’s a stall there that serves the whole frog battered and deep fried on a stick. Add a little chili powder on top to kick it up a notch. It’s not easy being green.
Bull Penis Soup
I have to be honest. Some of the dishes on this list I have eaten and enjoyed and some I have not. I suppose it’s mostly psychological. But this is one I had to try.
And it’s delicious. The dish is called Sup Torpedo and the bull penis is the star. The broth is like a curry and it’s served with Indian spices. Sup Torpedo is said to work wonders for male virility. In some places, you can request the testicles as well, if you are hungry enough.
Rendang is a spicy meat dish that originates in the Malay archipelago. It’s prepared by stir-frying meat in a spice paste with coconut milk, lemongrass and tamarind.
Mainly made with beef, there is one place in Selangor that has taken Rendang to a new level. They are using porcupine meat.
I’ve never made it out there to try it, but reports tell me it’s a little on the chewy side, however, the spices and preparation take away any of the gamey flavors it may have.
Yup, grubs. Mainly a delicacy in Sabah and Sarawak, many Malaysians don’t even have the courage to twist the heads off these live, squirming worms and pop them in their mouths. But don’t worry, if eating them live is not your thing you can find them cooked in various ways. Stir fry is the most common.
Truth be told, these little guys are packed with vitamins and minerals and are actually a healthier choice than chicken or beef.
No one ever said eating healthier was easy, right?
As far as weird may go, this one is actually pretty tame and I snack on these all the time. They can be prepared many ways and eaten the same as you would chicken wings.
Next time you sit down for a Chinese Dim Sum lunch, try a plate of hot and tasty braised chicken feet.
Fried Pigs Brains
The smooth, custard flavor of these normal-looking meatballs is definitely an acquired taste. This is a specialty item that I have only seen in a select few places.
Internal organs seem to be a hit in South East Asian countries, and Malaysia fits right in there. It’s not particularly a bad thing when you consider that it’s better than letting it go to waste.
Cow’s lung is a popular dish commonly called paru or paru Goreng. It is cow lung, brushed with seasoning then fried and goes great with nasi (rice).
Crispy Honey Bees
This is one that shocked me more than the Sago grubs. But when you stop and think about the nutritional value and can get past the psychological barriers, it makes sense to give these a try.
Honey bees and larvae are either fried or sautéed and then served up as a snack. They taste a lot like chicken, or so I am told.
So Malaysians may not eat dogs, but they do have some dishes that make their way onto the “strange” list. At least by Western opinions. There are a lot more dishes, like sup gearbox, satay parut and liver satay that are weird and phenomenal that I’ll discuss in a later article.
Did I miss any dish you enjoyed on your visit to Malaysia? Or anything that shocked you even more than the above? Let me know in the comments below.