Rojak

3 Mar

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about rojak yet. It’s one of the quintessential Malaysian dishes, inspiring both a short film and a book of short stories. The word means “mixture” in colloquial Malaysian, and it’s kind of like chop suey imagined as a fruit salad. (Though neither marshmallows nor Cool Whip make an appearance in rojak. Thank goodness.) Rojak is typically a mixture of fruits like pineapple, guava (the green type, not the pink, sour type), cucumber, something called kedongdong (really), and green mangoes, dressed with a thick, spicy, sweet-and-sour sauce made from palm sugar, tamarind pulp, shrimp paste (again, really), and chili. It’s frequently garnished with crushed peanuts and a prawn cracker, though usually not as large as the one pictured. The taste is somewhere between savory and sweet, and surprisingly refreshing for something so strongly flavored.

Sometimes Malaysian culture is likened to rojak: a mixture of disparate elements coming together in a pleasing whole, even as each ingredient retains its distinct flavor. It’s probably a more apt description than the melting pot, and besides, what’s more Malaysian than eating fruit with shrimp paste and chilis?

 

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2 Responses to “Rojak”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rojak: how Malaysians eat fruit « Straight Out of Kampung - August 11, 2011

    […] know I’ve talked about rojak before, but I think this deserves a special mention. You see, the other day I happened on a rojak stall […]

  2. Nasi Lemak: The Food and The Film « Straight Out of Kampung - January 30, 2012

    […] (As does the trailer: here’s a more representative scene.) Perhaps it should have been called Rojak, since it’s a mashup of kung fu parodies, social satire, and good old universal slapstick, […]

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