"What would you like for lunch, Sir/Ma'am? We have chicken noodle and nasi lemak."There were quite a number of travelers from China and I could hear them whispering among themselves:
"甚么是 "nasi lemak"?"
Since not every one of the flight crew could speak Mandarin, I decided to practise my Mandarin and introduce the mainland Chinese to our Malaysian delicacy:
Me: "你 会 吃 吗?"
Chinese man: "还可以."
Me: "好. "Nasi lemak" 是米饭 (mǐ fàn) 配
- 亁 鱼 炒 辣椒, 洋葱 ("dried fish sautéd with chillies and onions" - I didn't know the exact term here!),
- 鸡蛋 (jī dàn),
- 花生 (huā shēng),
- 黄瓜 (huáng guā).
Chinese man (smiling with kids showing interest): "好的! 好的!"
Phew! I was famished by the time I finished that sentence in Chinese ;-)
Here's a photo of Malaysian nasi lemak - nope, it's not the Malaysia Airlines version, which had disappeared quickly down my tummy.
What's in "nasi lemak"?At its basic level, nasi lemak consists of:
- Rice steamed with coconut milk and screwpine leaves (pandanus leaves) - very fattening and of course, high in cholesterol, which makes it a cause for concern among parents whose children take breakfast or lunch at school (The Star reported that nasi lemak will not be taken off the menu in schools);
- Sambal - the essence or raison d'être for nasi lemak. A basic sambal is dried anchovies sautéd with chillies and onions;
- Hard-boiled egg - slices or a whole egg depending on the generosity of the nasi lemak vendor!
- Slices of cucumber
- Deep-fried anchovies and groundnuts - some nasi lemak fans see these as essential although it's optional for me.
The nasi lemak pictured above is what Malaysians would call a "nasi lemak special" because it has an extra e.g. a piece of chilli chicken. Other extras could be chilli squid, chilli beef or even a whole deep-fried fish.
Note that this plate of nasi lemak is not authentic because I got a slice of deep-fried egg, which is not the norm.
Furthermore, the nasi lemak cost me RM17.20!!! Oh well, I was a desperately homesick puppy tucking into her first plate of nasi lemak at KLIA after being away from home for a long time. Beggars can't be choosers, right?
Of course, nobody makes nasi lemak better than the neighbourhood makcik - you'd pay about RM5-7 for a delicious meal and even praise her to the skies for it. Let me see if I can do some free publicity for her, eh? ;-)