Heritage on a Plate

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otak otak

Intermission: Some Penang Food Favourites!

Food Tour, Malaysian Food, Penang FoodDanny MahesComment

Hello! This week I wanted to take a break from our regular Penang in Pictures and Friday Flashback series, and show you some gorgeous food pics. Oh, and if you don't already know, the "intermission" is from old films they used to show at the cinema. Typically, midway through the film there'd be a 5-10 minute cut for toilet breaks. That's when you'd go out to stretch your legs and top up on the cinema snacks like chickpeas and sugared nutmeg. It was pretty cool!

Penang Kopi (Local Coffee)

if you've met me or been on one of our food hops in Penang, you'll know that I'm addicted to the local coffee. This stuff is so good. The local coffee, or kopi as we call it here, is often flavoured with spices, butter and palm sugar. If you walk into a shop and ask for kopi, you're in for a wild ride. Flavours can range from nutty and sour to sweet and spicy. It usually comes with condensed milk and sugar, so you might want to ask for less sugar, or strong and black with no sugar or milk to really savor the flavor.

hop penang food tour coffee kopi

Nyonya Otak Otak (Braaaaainnnsss)

When the zombie apocalypse finally rolls around, I'll be well prepared. By which I mean that decades of enjoying the Nyonya Otak Otak in Penang will have prepared me to consume brains as a zombie.

The dish is actually made from mashed fish and flavoured with spices, curry powder and in Penang, daun kaduk (wild pepper leaf). It's steamed in banana leaves for the Nyonya version, which has the consistency of a nice custard. The Malay community will grill it, giving it a more solid texture quite similar to fish cake.

The name itself means "brains" in Malay, due to its... well, brainy look. The otak otak is notoriously difficult to photograph, so I'm pretty happy this shot came out looking anything other than a brainy pile of mush :P

hop penang food tour nyonya otak otak

Penang Nyonya Assam Laksa

These pictures were initially part of the Laksa Shootout series, but I decided they were a little too specific. I wanted to capture the range of colours and ingredients, and the little quirks at different shops.

hop penang food tour assam laksa

This picture is from the Penang Road Famous Laksa, and I really loved how the colours from the mint, shallots, torch ginger flower and pineapple (!) really came together.

hop penang food tour nyonya assam laksa 1

This is from the other laksa place just up the road, and I really loved the detailing on the chopsticks. It gives the place it's own personality. I've become aware in the last few years about how strongly we are conditioned to consume without pause, with no chance to take a breath and critically examine the things around us. Things like this remind me that this isn't just another laksa on the list. It's a place with it's own character, personality and history.

Something to remember as we explore this beautiful world together. Safe journeys and good eating.