An insider’s guide to Penang’s gastronomic street delights

penang street food guide

After growing disillusioned with a career in IT, Penang-raised Mark Ng didn’t have to look far from home for a more rewarding direction.

The long-time foodie had spent the first 16 years of his life growing up in Penang’s gastronomic Garden of Eden, otherwise known as George Town.

To his surprise, there was still no one enlightening the wide-eyed tourists about the stories behind all those mouth-watering dishes that Malaysia is world famous for.

Penang street food guide in Malaysia

So Mark launched a ‘food experience’ business called Simply Enak – Enak is Malaysian for delicious – and he hasn’t looked back.

“It started out as a personal mission; no one was giving the historical context of the food,” Mark tells 50 So What.

“How was the curry different here compared with what’s on offer in India? No one tells you how it’s evolved so I thought maybe I should start answering those questions.

That simple premise has now blossomed into four set tours for groups of eight – two in Kuala Lumpur and two in Penang – and all manner of bespoke packages for companies, families and individuals.

Mark believes this is the best way to not just experience the unique food, but fast-track your understanding of the the melting pot of cultures that make Malaysia such a fascinating place to visit.

To whet you appetite for all the treasures that await you in Malaysia, below Mark shares one of his favourite recipies from his vast collection of Baba and Nyonya cuisine, the traditional food of the early descendants of the Chinese immigrants.

Ju Hu Char/Bang Kuang Char (Fried Jicama/Yambean)

penang dish

A dish commonly served during the Chinese festive season, for example the Chinese Luna New Year. This can be used as the filling for Pie Tee (Top Hats) or as a wrap with lettuce.

Ingredients:
Pork belly –150 grams

(Boil in hot boiling water until it is cook. Remove it from water and finely dice it.)
Prawns –100 grams. Minced finely

(Tip: Any prawns of your liking, big/small)
Shallots –50 grams. Finely chopped
Garlic –2 cloves. Finely chopped
Carrot –½ a stick. Finely chopped
Jicama (Yam bean or a look-alike turnip) –300 to 400 grams. Finely chopped
Leek –½ a stick. Finely chopped
Dried Cuttlefish–50 to 100 grams

(Tip: Only the tentacles if possible. If you cannot find it, you can skip the cuttlefish)

Sugar
Salt
Sunflower oil/peanut oil

Preparation:
Stir fry garlic and shallots until golden brown.
Add jicama, carrot, leek and continue frying.
Add salt and sugar to taste.

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