Malaysia has a thick and wild, natural flora and fauna. Although it is a tropical country, it grows a lot of produce that is typically used in the cuisine.
Let us look at the 5 typical Malaysian vegetables and herbs grown in Malaysia:
Malaysian vegetable Taro root is one of the most commonly used ingredients used in Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. It is a root vegetable known for its edible starchy corm. It is known by many local names and often referred to as ‘elephant ears’. It is known to be toxic when consumed in its raw form and hence must be cooked and consumed. It is known to prevent cancer, blood pressure, diabetes and boost the immune system. It is used to make curries, chips, patties or even roast it with herbs. It is also a staple Chinese moon festival foods.
Used commonly in stews and curries, bamboo shoots are wild and abundantly grown in Sarawak jungles. They are known as Rebung beting in Malay and are known to be toxic if eaten raw which makes it bitter, however, they taste great when boiled with water and the broth is discarded which also removes the bitterness. They are also cooked and pickled in sugar. Read more about the interesting health benefits of bamboo shoots.
Also known as the creeping sword fern, this hairy fern is called Paku Uban in Malay and Paku Putih in Sabah. Paku Uban has hairy fronds and stems and is known to taste less bitter with cores of their fronds being removed. The curly heads give out a crunchy taste and is used an ulam ( herb) and nasi kerabu. It is also served as an appetizer with Sambal belacan.
An indigenous plant to Borneo, it is called Terung Dayak , Terung Asam or Terung hutan in Malay. It is also a popular and widely grown in Sarawak. It tastes pleasantly sour and therefore named Terung Asam which means sour eggplant/ brinjal and is common in West Malaysia and other parts of the world. Terung Dayak flowers are white and immature, while the fruits are green in color. The mature fruits can be yellow ,orange, reddish orange, dark purple to black depending on varieties. It is used in most of the curries, stews and also fried to make Terung Dayak in sambal belacan which is served as an appetizer. They are rich in fiber and aids smooth digestion, it is also known to keep diabetes at bay and are helpful to the heart.
Galangal looks similar to ginger, but it has a distinct ringed light brown-colored skin and is more spicier and pungent compared to ginger. Galangal is used throughout Southeast Asia in such dishes as Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng), Malaysian rendang (a currylike meat or poultry dish), and Thai curries. Know more about the health benefits and uses of the Galangal here.
These Malaysian vegetables extremely versatile and are found widely across Malaysia.
Find your nearest Asian Store