10 fermented food you can find in Malaysia

For better intestinal health and greater immune system, I have been searching for fermented food and drinks for a long time. It led me to create a simple 10 minutes miso soup and to brewing a more complicated ginger ale.

It was a half-hearted attempt, until I read ‘The Art Of Fermentation’ which convinced me that eating some fermented food daily is one major factor to good health. I’ve make up my mind to incorporate more of them into my diet. So I researched and gathered a list of common fermented food in Malaysia.

1. Fermented beancurd
Fermented beancurd is a preserved tofu made from soybeans. “Commercially available fermented bean curd is made by using dry firm tofu that has been inoculated with the fungal spores….This freshly fermented tofu is known as mold tofu” (霉豆腐).” (source)

fermented beancurd

2. Tempeh
Originally from Indonesia, tempeh is made from soybeans. The fermentation process binds soybean into a cake. It is traditionally made within banana leaves.

3. Shrimp paste (ha kou)
Shrimp paste is made from fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt.
shrimp paste

4. Appam pamcake
Appam is made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Now that you know it’s good for you, try to order it when you visit an Indian restaurant next.

5. Sourdough bread
Made by a long fermentation using naturally occuring lactobacili and yeats in dough, sourdough taste a little sour because of the lactic acid produced during fermentation.

Sourdough bread, RM 8.30/ 500 g | Rustic Sourdough Walnut RM 6.30/ 300 g Presto

6. Kimchi
Kimchi needs no introduction in Malaysia. It’s one of the best source of natural probiotic.

7. Soy sauce
“Soy sauce is a condiment made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds” (source)

8. Miso
Miso products by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae.

9. Rice vinegar
Popularly used in Asian cooking, rice vinegar is made from fermented rice.

10. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple juice. Bacteria and yeast are added into the juice to start the alcoholic fermentation process. Sugar are turned into alcohol and alcohol into vinegar.
apple cider vinegar

As I pore over articles and books on fermentation, I also found that while these food may be fermented, the good bacteria might be destroyed if they are heat-treated. According to Nobuaki Fushiki, an avid fermenter and  the owner of Japanese restaurant Shiojiri Jozojo, “There’s no point to eating the miso and soy sauce you can buy at supermarket…Those products have been pasteurized and contain zero live enzymes and good bacteria.” (Sigh!)

In that case, perhaps our best bet for live bacteria would be freshly made appam pancake and sourdough bread. If you are looking for good bacteria for your gut, perhaps you can make your own fermented food or buy homemade products from independent vendors.

Do you eat fermented food?

photo credit: TESCO and PRESTO

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