Pasembur – Famous Malaysian Cuisine

Have you ever heard of pasembur? It’s sometimes called Malay rojak, Indian rojak, rojak mamak (meaning Malay-Indian), or even Penang rojak – a dish with many names but one common trait: deliciousness!

Rojak means “mixed” in Malay, and this salad dish is certainly an eclectic mixture: raw cucumber and turnip, blanched bean sprouts, boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, to name but a few ingredients. Crisp-fried bean curd, yam fritters and prawn fritters (cucur udang) are added as textural elements.

While other rojaks have these items in common, what makes pasembur unique is a spiced gravy of sweet potato, chilli and crushed roasted peanuts that brings the combination together and makes it surprisingly moreish.

It’s said this sauce, and its pairing with rojak salad, was brought to Penang by Indian-Muslim traders in the 18th century. Others credit far more contemporary creators: the Kareem family, who have been selling this dish in George Town since 1945. Their stall stands proud in Union Street – quiz them on its origins and test the tale!

There are variations on the pasembur theme. While the original sauce is vegan, sometimes belacan (shrimp paste), tamarind, soy sauce and lime juice are added. Crisp prawn crackers and fish or squid cakes can go into the salad mix too. When ordering, you can also opt for noodles – they will be served separately to mix into the rojak if desired.

It’s best to eat pasembur immediately as it tastes best while still hot and crispy!

Shop name:
Kareem Pasembur Rojak
7, Lebuh Union, George Town, 10200

Famous Malaysian cuisine is a 50-video series produced by Masters of Malaysian cuisine(MOMC) in partnership with Tourism Malaysia.

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