Food >>>

A food war with Singapore and Indonesia?

Thanks The Star for quoting me in this news article, but it’s much better to give out my blog URL too. 🙂

Hainanese chicken rice is neither originated from Malaysia nor Singapore. The recipe is inherited from a city named Wen Chang in the China Hainan island. But Hainanese chicken ball rice was invented either in Muar or may be in Melaka.

Bak Kut Teh is truly a Malaysian dish, which is originated from Klang. Singapore is hijacking from Malaysia and claim theirs.

I gonna write its naming origin.

The inventor of Bak Kut Teh is named Lee Boon Teh (李文地), a medical sensei from Klang Selangor at about 70 years ago. In the old time, Chinese traditional traders are called with his/her trade name in front of their second name.  For example, Tan Ah Yong, a pork seller is called Pork Yong.

Lee Boon Teh, a part-time pork rib soup trader was conveniently called Bak Kut (肉骨) Teh and also a pot of Chinese hot tea is served after the dish. Klang folks are mostly Hokkien descendants, Bak Kut Teh (肉骨地) is in same pronunciaton with Bak Kut Tea (肉骨茶).

Therefore Bak Kut Teh is mistaken as Bak Kut Tea even if tea is not an ingredient of the dish.

The third generation of Lee is still running a Bak Kut Teh shop in Klang.

Kedai Makanan Seng Huat
No. 9, Jalan Besar, 41000 Klang, Selangor.
GPS Coordinates: 3.0425973N 101.4480329E

This shop is too pride with Lee’s traditional recipe and set a few rules like no additional soup and no chili sauce served to customers.

What is Bak Kut Teh?

The soup stock is herbal base, herbs like anglelica, cloves, star anise, medlar seeds, szechuan peppercorns, etc. are mixed with pepper, ginger, wild ginger buds, garlic, bamboo cane, pork bones, pork meat, pork intestine and giblets, all slow cooked for hours. The soup is usually served with white steam rice.

Running a check on chilli crab’s origin

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 09:50:00’s-origin

WHERE did chilli crab come from? Malaysia or Singapore? Apparently, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen herself is not sure.

“We’ll see how it plays out ,” Ng said when asked about Singapore’s furore over her statement at the recent Malaysia International Gourmet festival that chilli crab was originally Malaysian.

“We’ll have to do a research to find out its exact origin.”

Last week, Ng claimed that chilli crab, together with other local delicacies such as nasi lemak, bak kut teh, laksa and Hainanese chicken rice, were Malaysian creations but were being hijacked by neighbouring

She also said that Malaysia will stake a claim on these dishes. This has certainly riled many Singaporeans, including the son of the dish’s “inventor”, Roland Lim.

It is claimed that Lim’s mother, Cher Yam Tian, came up with the recipe for chilli crab in Singapore back in 1950, which became a hit with Singaporeans, even to this day, after the dish made its way to restaurants.

Ng, however, maintained that the other Malaysian signature dishes that she mentioned besides c hilli crab were indeed of Malaysian origin.

“Bak kut teh was invented by a Chinese sinseh in Klang back in the 1930s,” Ng told reporters yesterday at a
Press conference of the Malaysian Open 2009 tennis tournament held at her ministry.

“He used to sell bak kut teh under a bridge.” She added: “But let’s do a study to find out ourselves. If it turns out I’m wrong, I’ll apologise. The media shouldn’t make such a big issue out of it. “It’s no big deal. There’s nothing wrong with discussing food. Debate on food is healthy.”

She also refuted claims that she wanted to patent Malaysian food. “I never said that. I also never claimed that only Malaysians are allowed to cook these dishes. It doesn’t matter if other countries prepare it too. However, I want Malaysians to be the ones who cook the nicest.”

Ng added that it was in her ministry’s plan to position Malaysian food as a major tourist attraction.

No intention to patent local food, Dr Ng says


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia does not intend to patent local food but wants its citizens to know their origins, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

She expressed surprise over responses on her statement on local food and Malaysia’s intention to lay claim to several dishes, which were synonymous with the country’s identity and ideal as a tourism product.

“Neither did I say that no other countries can cook such food. We are not trying to compare with other countries,” she told a press conference on Wednesday.

“Malaysians must know about the origin of their food. We want them to start thinking about their food when they eat them. We also want them to improve on their dishes and be more creative.”

Dr Ng’s recent statement that nasi lemak, laksa, bak kut teh, chilli crab and Hainanese chicken rice are Malaysian dishes had sparked off a “food fight” on the Internet, including from some unhappy Singaporeans who insisted that chilli crab and the chicken rice were theirs.

Dr Ng said a study on the origins of foods in the country would be conducted and an apology conveyed if it was wrongly claimed.

“At the end of the day, tourists will go to where the food is tastiest,” she added.

The National Heritage website, has 100 types of food and drinks listed under its food heritage list.

These include nasi lemak, laksa, chilli crab and Penang char kuay teow.

Citing an example, Dr Ng said bak kut teh — which is Hokkien for meat bone tea — originated from Klang in the 1930s by a Chinese sinseh.

“Ba kut teh can be chicken or any meat because it is meat bone,” she said.

Local dishes, she said, could be part of the Malaysian tourism product branding as many were already in the heritage food list.

Laksa and nasi lemak among our pride, says Yen Yen


KUALA LUMPUR: Laksa, nasi lemak and bak kut teh — these are some of the food Malaysia will lay claim to.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said there were many dishes synonymous with Malaysia’s identity but they had been “hijacked” by other countries.

Happy chefs: The chefs of the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival at Royal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka. – AZMAN GHANI/THE STAR

“We cannot continue to let other countries hijack our food. Chilli crab is Malaysian. Hainanese chicken rice is Malaysian. We have to lay claim to our food,” she told reporters after launching the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival yesterday.

The festival, which runs throughout October, is part of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia campaign. Novem-ber’s part of the campaign will centre around shopping mall food, while street and heritage food will be the highlight in December.

“In the three months, we will identify certain key dishes (to declare as Malaysian). We have identified laksa … all types of laksa, nasi lemak and bak kut teh,” she said.

When asked how the ministry would go about labelling the dishes Malaysian after identifying them, Dr Ng said she would reveal her strategy at a later stage.

“That is Part Two. We cannot reveal it yet, but we will let you know soon,” she said.

On another matter, Dr Ng said tourist arrivals in August increased by 10.4% to 2,030,337 compared to the corresponding period last year.

For the first eight months of the year, arrivals went up by 4.4% to 14,730,437 compared to the corresponding period last year.

Dr Ng said arrivals from China increased by 14.8% in August, while arrivals from Australia and Britain increased by 26.6% and 16.5% respectively.

Double-digit growth was also recorded for arrivals of tourists from more than 20 countries, including Poland (59.9%), Italy (49.7%) and Iran (40.4%).

To further boost tourism, Dr Ng said 500 guides were undergoing a three-month foreign language course.

“They are being trained in Russian, Arabic, South Korean, Japanese and French. It is a scholarship. Right now, we only have two Russian-speaking guides. That is not enough,” she said.

The comment board with Facebook account.
Christine says:

Isn’t it too harsh to say that Singapore stole anything from Malaysia? While there are some dishes that are uniquely Singaporean, to my understanding, Singapore has never promoted some of the dishes such as Ba Kut Teh with the intention that they originated in Singapore. Rather, it is part of our unique multiethnic culture that resulted in the congregation of so many types of different dishes here. As time goes by, many of these dishes have been infused with local flavour and hence becomes part of the local culture. Singapore’s tourism campaign is promoting this multicultural heritage through the food that we have here. There is a difference between saying, “come try the food we have here” and “come try the food that originated from here”. After all, there are different variants of Ba Kut Teh in Singapore, such as the teochew type that I’m more familiar with.

To respond specifically to your Ba Kut Teh example, I’m also confused as to when did Singapore ever say that Ba Kut Teh originated here. I haven’t found anything thus far in STB’s website that said “Ba Kut Teh originated in Singapore” like what you claimed to be a hard fact. The bottomline is, it is perfectly fine if Malaysia wishes to use the origin of these dishes as a tourism selling point, provided they can back it up of course since now you’re taking about origins. It is upsetting, however, as a Singaporean to see such a blatant statement such as “Singapore stole Ba Kut Teh from Malaysia” due to the negative connotations of that line.

admin says:

Whether you put it in the black and white or not is not the core issue. The foreigners’ impression on where is the origin of the Bak Kut Teh is truly counted.

Singapore government strongly recommended Bak Kut Teh to HK Chief Executive Officer is a high profile “hijacking” campaign to rationalize Bak Kut Teh as a food uniquely to Singapore.

I do not totally blame Singapore STB for promoting their own version of Bak Kut Teh, I rather to condemn our Malaysian government for not officially adopting Bah Kut Teh as our cultural heritage for a stupid reason, the food cannot be consumed by all races in Malaysia.

See this link in SinChew Daily.

Rais Yatim is a typical Malay fascist to use nonsense to exclude Bak Kut Teh as Malaysian national heritage.

Malaysian Buddhist and Hindu followers do not eating meat, by Rais Yatim’s definition only vegetarian food is qualified. But the fact is chicken rice is one of items in the food heritage list is so self-explanatory to say Rais Yatim is a bigot.

Another Singapore reader. says:

i think the above comment was refering to nasi lemak.

Also, in 1930 it was not malaysia it was malayan, thus it would be appropriate to say it was malayan food not malaysia. it was only named malaysia after the merger, thus without singapore, there would be no malaysia only malaya.

Why you are no more calling Singapore as Temasik?

Malaysia inherited everything including debt from Malaya under the international laws. Malaya is a history found in the museum.

I hope to see rebuttal with intelligence, not the childish argument.

Singapore reader says:

Did Singapore ever claim that Bak Kut Teh originated from Singapore? If so, when and where, please enlighten me. Since finding suggest that first domesticated of rice is from the region of Yangtze river valley 10,000 years ago (, so the Chinese can start shouting “stop others lay claim to our food”, all form of rice including Nasi Lemak? And where is Lee Boon Teh from? Was he born in Malaysia? Or came from China too? if so, base on your own theory how can the food be consider as “Malaysian Food”??

An argument with a full of fallacy.

Singapore government heavily promoted Bak Kut Teh as theirs in the tourist brochures and websites is a hard fact. Also many Bak Kut Teh hawkers in Singapore put up “Klang Bak Kut Teh” in their signboards.

What on earth to say Bak Kut Teh is a rice-based recipe? Who care where you source raw material to make your food?

The Bak Kut Teh recipe or cooking method was invented by Lee Boon Teh who called Malaysia home is good enough to make Bak Kut Teh, a native recipe found in Malaysia.

Xiu Ling says:

thank you for the information about ‘bak kut teh’. will make sure that i try bak kut teh at this shop the next time i m at klang.

i think that it is a good idea for the government to promote local food, not only those dishes mentioned, but also the various types of kuih that are available. it will be wonderful for research to be conducted into the dishes that are common and familiar to almost all malaysians and to let malaysians know the origins of these food and maybe to appreciate them even more. however, regarding patenting the food, i have doubts about its feasibility and necessity.

Dash says:

I think that we should claim what’s supposed to be Malaysian food. Just like what Khoo mentioned, SG hijacked our bak kut teh!

The next question arised would be, How’s Datuk Ng going to do all these food branding? Well, Datuk Ng, I support your efforts! 🙂 Good luck~

Food recipe cannot be patented, but we can trademarked “Klang Bah Kut Teh”, “Penang Laksa”, “Muar Otak-otaK”, etc. to prevent foreigners from passing off Malaysian food in their hawker centers.

Nesh says:

Aaah Bak Kut Teh…our proud dish that often shares along with family and friends even at the most congested restaurants in Malaysia. This is one particular dish that no other countries should try to claim as theirs.

justicenequality says:

What is Ng Yen Yen motives to highlight this Msian origin of certain dishes?
Is she trying to stir discontent & unhappiness especially with S’pore?
Does she realises that more than 60% of tourists to Msia comes from SINGAPORE?
What brownie POINTS is she trying to gain if those dishes are proven to be Msian origin? Any monetary award?

I believe she was responding to Indonesian Batik was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage.

Ng Yen Yen is Ah Lian type of woman, she has raised many controversies like Chinese maid and sexy nightgown issues.