Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eating pig in Malaysia

Roast whole suckling pig, Chinese style

Before I left Hong Kong for Penang, a colleague asked me what I'd be doing back on holiday at home. "Mainly just eat and sleep", I told her. "Sounds good to me!" was the reply from the frequently sleep-deprived Australian mother of three who has become a fan of Malaysian and a lot of other Asian foods after living for years in the Big Lychee!

And I can see that she'd love much of what I've been eating on this current visit -- some meals of which have come courtesy of favorite eateries, others of which (including an ethnic Indian meal of chapati, goat mutton curry, curried fish roe and curried bhindi (AKA ladies' fingers or okra)) have emanated from the kitchens of newly discovered purveyors of delicious food.

Alternatively, I know quite a few people for whom the centerpiece of a family dinner my second evening back this time would not appeal -- and even be downright taboo. More specifically, it is one of those positive peculiarities of Malaysia that even while Islam is the official and majority religion of the country, roast whole suckling pig is a prized delicacy for a sizable minority of its population.

And for the record: I consider the crispy skin of suckling pig roasted Chinese style to be a truly tasty treat -- especially when eaten with the sweet sauce, rolls and spring onion that also go well with Peking Duck. So it is indeed a source of delight to me that this particular dish is available for consumption by the likes of me in Hong Kong as well as Penang. :b


sarah bailey knight said...

hi ytsl,

Looks so tasty. What are some of the dishes surrounding it?

Glenn, kenixfan said...

A post worthy of Bourdain and his pig fixation!

The lady fingers sound good. I get an okra dish at Penang restaurant back home that they called Becalan -- I think.

Long pieces of okra and some shrimp-paste sauce on it.

Okra is something I miss from New Orleans so I will usually taste it when I find it on a menu.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Clockwise above the pig are: a plate of fried and steamed buns (to eat with the pig), a plate of a mix of vegetables and minced pork, a bowl of kangkong (potato vine or swamp cabbage) in clear soup and a small bowl of raw pineapple chunks for dessert. Around, in the smaller dishes are the Hoisin sauce for the pig and, also, pounded red chillis to add spice to things. :)

Hi Glenn --

Belacan is a shrimp paste that figures in many dishes, including vegetable ones. Have never had it with okra though -- usually, the vegetable of choice for that is kangkong.

And if you like okra: make sure to have some Indian food before you leave Hong Kong. Have you been to eat at Chungking Mansions yet? ;b

Glenn, kenixfan said...

Good idea! I had Indian food last time and it was not bad.

I think okra is an interesting veggie and it's a shame that it is so hard to find in the States: either at a "southern" style restaurant or an Indian restaurant.

hcpen said...

Wow, looks delicious:-) I simply LOVE the crispy skin too..most ppl eat it for the skin, i guess!

YTSL said...

Hi again Glenn --

More re okra: when I was in the US, I had a good friend from the American South who introduced me to the wonders of pickled okra. Have you tried it? ;b

Hi hcpen --

Yeah, the skin of the suckling pig is by far the best part! :)

ulaca said...

It looks like your little piggy wanted to be a glider in another life. Cold cuts of all kinds are top nosh.

Brian said...

My knees when soft at the word chapati. Nothing better in the world than a freshly made chapati and a spicy curry.

Horsoon said...

Looking at that piggy... Oh I can't eat that! LOL!

YTSL said...

Hi Ulaca --

Teehee re your glider comments. But re your other comments: these are not cold cuts -- and all the better for being served hot! ;b

Hi Brian --

Have I told you my 96 chapatis story? If not... hmmm, maybe it might be worth a blog entry! :b

Hi Horsoon --

Does the piggy look too cute??? ;(

Willow said...

omg....suckling pig is so, so good. I've not yet been served steamed buns with this dish but you've introduced a great idea. Like I should request steamed buns and the fixings to go with it next time. Thanks.

YTSL said...

Hi Willow --

Suckling pig is indeed so good but, honestly, whenever I've eaten it, the steamed buns go before even the pig skin! They are VERY good indeed -- on their own as well as with the skin, sauce and spring onion. :b