[Kota Bahru 2013] – The local Malay food — Nasi Kerabu


I was born in Malaysia big city – Kuala Lumpur, but lucky enough my parents came from the same small fish village in Sepang, so we still have childhood memory of catching fish in the river, playing in the pig farm and eating rojak mee by the beach. All these made me have some kind of intimate feeling attached to the slow-paced-small village in suburban and also their “special” local food that never exist in the big city.


“Good food is often cheap food” quoted from Tyler Cowen, I strongly agreed with his theory whenever I wandering for food in suburban area, where fish is fresh from the sea and chicken is fresh from the farm, an expensive restaurant doesn’t mean to provide more.


Recently, much to my delight, I travel to the suburban area all around Malaysia frequently. Without having too much freedom/time to go around, my colleague still manage to bring me to their famous local food stall for a quick but nice meal. Most of the time, all these old little nostalgia stalls located at somewhere that I can’t tell the address or point out the route, but most of the local could bring you there easily with their both eyes closed.


So, I am here with a plate of Nasi Kelabu with a glass of hot barley “kosong”. Nasi Kelabu is a Malay traditional rice, where the rice will steam with some kind of herb to form different color (green/blue) topped with finely sliced onion, bean sprout, cucumber, some kind of herb and minced fish with a deep fried fish as side (ikan goreng). We would mix all the topping with rice thoroughly and eat with the sambal chilli which tastes spicy with a sour fishy taste. The sambal chilli plays an important role in bringing out the unique “kampung” food taste, you would definitely asking for “tambah” (refill) although it was so spicy that you may need a cold drink to cool you down. When the cold drink was on the way to rescue your on fire-tongue, take a bite on the “keropok” (fish cracker) the natural sweet from the cracker would relieve the burning sense on your tongue. For a person like me it was spicy to make me tear but just nice for spicy-eater. With tear and barley ice, I finished it within 10 minutes, yumm!!… I would definitely come back for it, with good preparation of tissue and 2 glasses of barley ice.


The food reminded me my parents’ hometown and the rojak mee.


Note: Someone said put a pinch of salt on your tongue, hold it for few second and rinse it off with water, the sense of burning due to spicy will fade off.

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