Simple delicious pleasures…our unique local salads
You know you are in the midst of a revolution when McDonald’s, the world’s largest peddler of meat products, sticks a salad on its menu, though apparently theirs has only slightly fewer calories than a quarter pounder which really defeats the purpose.
After all, salad is diet food, isn’t it? Nevertheless, the humble salad appears to have taken over the menus of Kuching food establishments today, cementing its arrival as the de rigueur food of choice for those trying to improve their eating habits. You can potentially find a salad in all the sections of any given menu – appetizer, main course; salads have even managed to creep into the dessert menu! The salad, indeed, is here to stay.
Of course, most people you ask are likely to think lettuce when they think of salad. Further evidence of the salad’s new popularity in Kuching comes with Genting Garden, the West Malaysian grower, which is making a mint off the humble lettuce and the cheery cherry tomato. The shelves of Kuching’s supermarkets are full of their produce and locally grown varieties of lettuce are even creeping in. As a result, our restaurants are offering salads in increasing numbers and varieties, from a single dish to a whole bar.
The traditional rojak. Popular too is the fruit only version with the same sauce.
Rojak is, at its essence, a local salad of mixed vegetables and fruits, enveloped in rojak sauce, which is a thick, sweet yet savoury sauce comprising local prawn paste (belacan, for those of you in the know), palm sugar and lime. In Malaysia and Singapore, the term “rojak” is also used as a colloquial expression for an eclectic mix, especially in describing the multi-ethnic character of Malaysian society. Rojak differs from region to region within the Malayan archipelago – and you can get Singaporean and Indonesian versions of this popular dish as well!
Rojak Sotong Kangkong also known as Joo Hoo Eng Chai in the local Hokkien dialect is eaten warm
Rojak sotong kangkung:
Bunga Kantan Salad:
So there you have it, a quick look into the world of Malaysian salads that you can get. In my opinion, our local salads are as healthy, as beautiful and as tasty as their Western counterparts, but I suppose that is a matter of preference. The salad is here, and it is here to stay!
Grace Balan-Law is a features editor with a local English daily. Married with a three-year -old son who keeps her on her toes 24/7, she enjoys the occasional morning walk at the park, plays a little tennis and still dreams of writing a book one day.