(54) Malaysia – Nasi Lemak

Sorry for my little hiatus we were off camping! With the warmer weather we have also decided to go down to 3 countries a week so we can enjoy the outdoors and get more active! Alright now on to the Malaysia!

Walking the canopy walk in Gunung Mulu National Park. Source: Maps of the World

Malaysia is a southeastern Asian country situated by Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand. It is made up of two regions, West Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) and East Malaysia (or Malaysia Timur). Western Malaysia makes up 40% of the total country and is known for its rainforests, mountains, and sandy beaches along with some of the tallest skyscrapers of the world. Eastern Malaysia is home to many nature reserves, National parks, and rural landscapes. One of these National Parks, Gunung Mulu National Park (pictured above) has incredible bridges you can walk in the canopies of the rainforest, the largest cave chamber in the world, and the pinnacles which are jagged limestone peaks that are as high as 50 meters (164ft).

All special ingredients and foods we haven’t tried before!

Malaysian cuisine consists of many things I have not tried (and will be trying today). It is made up of three ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese, and Indian. The common ingredients you can find throughout Malaysian dishes are chili peppers, Belacan (shrimp paste), coconut, lemongrass, tofu, seafood, soy sauce, tamarind, rice and noodles. The unofficial national dish of Malaysia is called Nasi Lemak and consists of many of the ingredients listed above along with two I did not see myself trying.. dried anchovies and sardines.

Nasi Lemak is made up mostly of a coconut rice that is cooked with pandan leaves, tamarind juice, and sambal ikan bilis (achovy paste made of chilis garlic, shallots, belacan, and small dried anchovies). It has other ingredients that are garnished around the main dish which allows you to get a different experience with every bite. Due to the array textures and flavors it is adored not only in Malaysia, but also neighboring countries and islands.

Although feeling a little uneasy I decided to tackle this new meal with an open mind. I did have to purchase several ingredients through Amazon since I was unable to find them in my local stores. Although it looked daunting, it was not too challenging to make. I still have not found a way to avoid burning the bottom of my coconut rice, but it was still successful. The recipe I used had several elements that together made up the dish (this being the traditional way) and looked quite nice once I plated it up.

I filled a tea bag with the pandan leaves for easy removal

We were pleasantly surprised by the dish, however the spice had us chugging water and milk. The anchovies and sardines were gave a salty flavor to the dish (make sure not to over season with salt). The egg, rice, and cucumber helped soothe my burning tongue after taking a bite of the very spicy sambal ikan bilis. If it wasn’t as spicy it would have taken a higher rating, but due to feeling like my mouth, face, and esophagus was up in flames we rated it 6.5/10.

Let us know what you think of this unique dish and if you handled the heat better 😅

(42) Saint Lucia – Curried Chicken and Coconut Pineapple Rice

We are back the Caribbean baby! St Lucia is an island situated in the Caribbean Sea south of Martinique and north of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Although a small country it is full of various unique landscapes such as rainforests, coral reefs, mountains, a dormant volcano, and sandy beaches. St Lucia has also been known as Iyonola and Hewanorra which were names given by natives meaning island of the iguanas, but was renamed in the 16th century by the European settlers.

The Pitons of St Lucia. Source: Planetware.com

So I already had a hunch I would like this dish since we had made a coconut curry tuna dish for Tuvalu not too long ago. Although this is not the national dish, it is still a good representation of the country with common ingredients. Their cuisine is influenced by British, East Indian, and French cooking styles and flavors which can be seen in this dish.

There is a large variety of spices St Lucians use such as allspice, cinnamon, curry, and cloves and an even large variety of fruits that are native to the island. This dish has the wonderful pineapple which can easily elevate any dish in my opinion, especially when grilled! I used this recipe when preparing dinner.

As expected the dish was a hit and easy to prepare! I had marinated the chicken overnight to get the best flavor possible. The pineapple coconut rice was amazing (honestly what doesn’t coconut milk and pineapple make better)? The chicken was very flavorful and well seasoned. I would have liked to try the marinade on bone-in chicken that I would cook up in the Air Fryer. We rated this dish 8/10.