It can be difficult to pair wine with the spicy and intensely aromatic food of Malaysia but don’t let this put you off. Choosing the best wine can enhance the flavors of the dish and makes for a culinary feast for the senses. From spicy curries to fresh seafood dishes and steaming bowls of noodle soup, here’s a guide on some of the country’s mouthwatering specialities and their recommended pairing.
Char Kway Teow
Another classic noodle dish, this variation is stir fried in seconds over a charcoal fire with soy, prawns and chili thrown in. The shrimp paste, belacan is also added with bean sprouts and cockles. You’ll find the best in Malaysia at the northern state of Penang, with many chef’s adding pork lard and Chinese sausage for extra flavor. This hearty dish has a salty and savory taste which works well with a well-chilled white such as an oaked chardonnay or a sancerre wine.
This slow cooked dry curry fuses sweet, sour and savory elements in quintessential Malaysian style. Using a variety of spices including turmeric and kaffir lime, this dish has an intense flavor profile which is complimented by the tangy sun dried fruit, ‘asam keping’. To compliment this heavy curry, you’ll want to choose a low alcohol red with a degree of sweetness and a fruity character. A Zweigelt is a great choice or an Australian Shiraz, best served slightly chilled.
This shrimp dish is bursting with flavor, made using sambal paste and flavored with Malaysian shrimp paste, known as belacan. It’s quickly stir fried with kaffir lime leaves, providing a citrusy flavor and is often served over a steaming bowl of rice. This dish is best paired with a sparkling Rose or chilled Rose from southern France. This refreshing, light wine cuts through the spicy flavors, offering some welcome relief from the heat.
A Southeast Asian staple, this street-food favorite is popular in all the major cities in Malaysia. Although there are many variations, Curry Laksa remains one of the most popular. This noodle dish has a coconut milk base and is prepared with spice paste known as ‘rempah’ made from turmeric, ginger and lemongrass. To finish, the bowl of noodles are topped with shrimp, tofu balls, cucumber and a boiled egg. The off-dry white, Gewurztraminer is a great wine to accompany the dish with just enough sugar to compliment the spice.
There’s plenty more Malaysian dishes to enjoy with a glass of wine. Be sure to try some of these pairings and you won’t be disappointed.