Indonesian & Malaysian cuisine with Wine

published in Time Out Singapore

With 6,000 islands Indonesia’s populace share a diverse cuisine. Indonesia’s Maluku,  “the Spice Island” gave the world mace, nutmeg and cloves. In return, the Spanish brought chillis, the Arabs and Indians arrived with spices whilst the Chinese settlers introduced noodles and soy sauce.  Malaysian cuisine reflects her melting pot of cultures too.  Malay cuisine’s flavours are a legacy of trade with neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, India, the Middle East, and China. Indonesia and Malaysia share dishes such as satay, nasi goring, tempeh, beef rendang and gado gado. Indonesian cuisine usually leans towards spicy and sweet or spicy and savoury; the same dish, cooked Malaysian style might contrast the tastes of sour with sweet; the sweet with chilli or salt and so on.

Whatever wines you choose for Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines, they have to be highly-flavored to meet head on, a predominant taste – be it the spice, the sweetness, the savouriness, the nutty coconut flavour and more.

Parry satay’s smoky peanut taste with a lightly sweet wine – a Vouvray moelleux. This wine will also match gado gado salad’s dressing. Nasi lemak is chilli sweet so venture a Hungarian Tokaji – the cold syrupy wine will quell the chilli and texturally match the dish. Ditto for Indonesian nasi goreng featuring kecap manis. For Malaysian nasi goring that is savoury rather than sweet, opt for Verdicchio which is soft and friendly also to ayam goring.

Enjoy coconut-based dishes (curry kapitan, lontong, opor ayam) in tandem with toasty Pinot Noirs or Chardonnays. Tahu goreng, is sometimes served with crushed peanuts with lime or a sweet sauce with the addition of prawn paste. Both versions will not overcome the oak aged – Soave Classico, or Spanish Albariño Barrica.

Ikan Assam Pedas – fish cooked sour and hot, is the perfect foil for Sauvignon Blanc / Sancerre. Cava’s, smooth elegant genial bubbles will elevate the dish flavours and those of dishes like the sweet-sour babi panggang.

Roti Canai or Prata (in Singapore) is the local fried crepe. Martabak is the same, but filled with minced mutton, garlic, egg and onion. Both are served with curry and the most suitable wine is a sweet sparkling spumante.

Find out more in the books “Pairing Wine with Asian Food” or “Wine with Asian Food”