Masterchef, The Malaysian PM and Crispy Chicken Rendang

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By: Obbana Rajah

When Malaysian-born Zaleha Kadir Olpin made Nasi Lemak with Chicken Rendang for popular UK cooking competition Masterchef, she intended to portray feelings of nostalgia through her “childhood favourite” dish.

However, judge Gregg Wallace dashed all her hopes and critiqued saying, “the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin so I can’t eat it”.

His comment sparked outrage in many Malaysians, who took to social media to express their distaste.

 

Even Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak posted on his twitter and rhetorically asked, “Does anyone eat chicken rendang ‘crispy’? #MalaysianFood”.

Chicken rending is usually served as a dry curry, akin to a thick stew.

The British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell stepped in and tweeted the two Masterchef judges retorting that rendang, “should also not be confused with the fried chicken sometimes served with nasi lemak”.

It also then came as no surprise when former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir commented, “Maybe you are confusing rendang chicken with KFC”.

Comments came pouring in from Singaporeans and Malaysians alike on Facebook and Twitter.

Netizen Chan Wk said, “Next episode, crunchy Pad Thai?”.
To that, Alex Ng added, “No, fried bird’s nest”.
And Saah Abdullah jumped in and said, “Or crispy lamb curry next”.

In Wallace’s defence, Facebook user Ken Tan added, “When we order Nasi Lemak set as a default dish itself, it usually consists of a crispy fried chicken wing rather than chicken rendang. This could be where the Masterchef [judge] got confused. Unless one calls it ‘Chicken Rendang set’ and not ‘Nasi Lemak’, maybe the Chef might be more clear”.

Malaysia Airlines took the opportunity to sell their own version of chicken rendang as well on Twitter.

One thing is for sure, people around here take their local food fare very, very seriously.