Johorean Azfaren Aznam suggests some of the classic dishes from Peninsular Malaysia’s most southern state.
When visiting Johor, you should try to find and savour the dishes that this splendid state is famous for. With influences ranging from Javanese, Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Malay, European cuisine and many more, Johorean food has a unique character of its own.
Here are seven Johor specialities you should try whenever you are in town.
1. Laksa Johor
Laksa Johor is the southern state’s own version of laksa, or noodle soup dish in Malay. The unique feature about this dish is that it uses spaghetti instead of rice noodles.
The broth is made using coconut milk, curry powder, a variety of spices and is fish-based. It is accompanied by condiments such as cucumber, bean sprouts, boiled egg, kesum leaves and sambal belacan, with a squeeze of calamansi lime.
True Johoreans will eat this dish with their hands. Laksa Johor can be found in Johorean restaurants and food courts.
Pepes is fish, seafood or chicken wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked. The meat is mixed with many spices and can be grilled, steamed or boiled.
It is usually ordered as a side dish and a delicious snack. It can usually be found at standalone stalls near a restaurant or in food courts.
3. Kacang Pool
Kacang Pool is said to have originated from an Egyptian dish, Ful medames, cooked using fava beans. The beans are mashed and cooked with mince meat and spices.
It is usually served with a sunny side up egg and a slice of thick toast. Chopped up onions, calamansi lime and slices of green chilli adds a little more zing to the dish.
The Larkin Fire Station food court is the famous spot to find this dish, though you can also find it at the hipster cafe Cupchai in Bandar Baru Uda and Kilang Bateri.
4. Nasi Briyani Gam
Nasi Briyani Gam is a famous dish in Malaysia, and the town of Batu Pahat usually gets the honour of being the place where you can find the best version of this dish. Made using long grained basmati rice which is cooked with spices, it is available with chicken, lamb and beef.
The meat is cooked together with the rice in a special sauce made up of spices and ghee (clarified butter). Dhal and vegetable pickles round up the meal.
5. Nasi Kukus Ayam Rempah
Nasi Kukus Ayam Rempah is a quick and simple dish consisting of steamed white rice, chicken fried with spices, and served with curry, vegetables and sambal belacan.
Other accompaniments include fried catfish with spices. Usually consumed during lunch, there are popular roadside stalls in Gelang Patah that specialise in this particular dish.
6. Mee Rebus
Mee Rebus is a yellow egg noodle dish, served with a gravy made from sweet potatoes and spices. It is usually served with boiled eggs, calamansi limes, fried tofu, bean sprouts, and fried shallots.
The famous Johor Mee Rebus Haji Wahid includes a garnishing of fried dried shrimp mixed with flour.
7. Asam Pedas
Asam Pedas is a term for sour and spicy stew, and is famous in Melaka and Johor. The Johorean Asam Pedas is noted for its use of kesum leaves – also known as ‘Vietnamese coriander’ – black pepper and has a thicker gravy which is bright red in color.
The Asam Pedas gravy is usually cooked with either chicken or seafood such as stingray or skate, red snapper and other varieties of fish. Typically, it is served with white rice alongside other dishes.
Tickle your taste buds the next time you’re in Johor
So that’s a quick overview of seven Johorean dishes you must try. There are many restaurants and stalls where you can find these delicacies and everyone will have their favourite spots.
I wish you all the best in your discovery of delicious Johorean food and leave you with a short pantun:
Travelling down to Johor,
Land of tantalising dishes;
Lovely food to look for,
Fulfilling all your wishes.
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